This lesson is all about the dative case. This is one of the 3 Luxembourgish cases.
The dative case is different from the other 2 cases. And to find that out it makes sense to recap the two basic pattern for sentences. We have:
- Ech “verb” ⇒ Ech liesen. – I read.
which only needs the subject (nominative), and then we have
- Ech “verb+ something” ⇒ Ech liesen e Buch. – I read a book.
which usually uses the accusative. The third one, which usually uses the dative is
- Ech “verb + something to someone“.
or better yet, the rephrased version
- Ech “verb someone something“. ⇒ Ech ginn dir e Buch. – I give (to ) you a book.
Many Luxembourgish verbs fit this pattern… ginn (to give), hëllefen (to help), erklären (to explain), soen (to say)... and the underlying idea is a transfer. Not transfer as in I move somewhere but something is being moved from one entity to another entity.
And whenever we are looking at a situation like this, in Luxembourgish the thing being transferred is in Accusative and the receiver is in Dative. What matters are the roles.
Dative is the receiver. That is its core. Receiving something. Dative receives.
The definite and indefinite articles do change in the dative case:
The Definite Articles in the Dative
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
dem der dem den
Let’s take the verbs hëllefen (to help) and ginn (to give) – 2 verbs that take the dative case:
- Ech hëllefen dem Mann. – I help the man.
- Den Dokter gëtt dem Meedchen e Medikament. The doctor gives the girl a medicine.
The Indefinite Articles in the Dative
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
engem enger engem –
Let’s take the verbs äntweren (to answer), soen (to say) and schreiwen (to write)
- Ech schreiwen nach séier engem Kolleeg eng SMS. – I quickly write an sms to a colleague.
- Ech soen enger Cliente Äddi. – I say good-bye to a customer (female).
- D’Educatrice äntwert engem Kand. The child care worker answers to a child.
The Personal Pronouns in the Dative
Take a look at the following sentence:
Wéi geet et dir? – How are you? (informal singular)
We don’t say “Wéi geet et du ?” no, no, no!
⇒ du (personal pronoun in the nominative case) becomes dir in the dative.
ech (I) mir (me)
du (you) dir (you)
hien (he) him (him)
hatt (she) him (her)
si (she-form) hir (her-form)
mir (we) eis (us)
Dir / dir (you-pl & form) Iech / iech (you-pl & form)
si (they) hinnen (them)
Let’s take the verbs erklären (to answer), verkafen (to say) and schécken (to write)
- Soll ech dir dat erklären? – Shall I explain this to you?
- Ech verkafen hinnen mäin Auto. – I sell them my car.
- Ech schécken hir Blummen. I’ll send her (formal) flowers.
We can also transfer pieces of information… so there is not always a direct object there:
- Ech soen dir, wat ech haut maachen. – I tell you, what I’ll do today.
- Mir ass et kal. – I’m cold. (I tell you, to me it’s cold)
But there doesn’t even have to be an actual transfer going on…
- Ech liesen iech eppes vir. – I read something out to you (plural).
- Moien Här Weis, wéi geet et Iech ? – Good morning Mr Weis, how are you (formal)?
- Lëtzebuerg gefält mir. – I like Luxembourg (Luxembourg is pleasing to me)
The Dative isn’t really receiving a thing here… it is more like an audience for something. But still I think the idea of transfer shines through.
So… this is the basic idea of Dative…
Now, I am sure quite a few have been silently asking themselves
“So mir is like to me… why doesn’t she just say that.”
Well, that is not wrong… if you use that to help you remember Dative that’s fine. But Dative can also express for you and from you and even more importantly, not every to you is automatically a dir.
My learning tip:
In this lesson are a few verbs requiring the dative case but it is just good to know a few verbs, the most common ones and to use them WELL, rather than knowing many and hesitating in conversation. AND keep practicing!! Practicing makes perfect! That’s the most efficient way that is sticks in your head:-)
Watch the video of this lesson so to practice along with me (Übungen – exercises)!!
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