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Frequently Used German Dative Verbs

In the following chart you'll find those German verbs that take a "direct" object in the dative case rather than the normal accusative case.

The "dative verbs" category is a rather loose classification because almost any transitive verb can have a dativeindirect object. But in general, a dative verb is one that normally takes an object in the dative case — usually without any other object. The list below doesnot include such "normal" verbs, as gab (give) or show (show, indicate), that commonly have both a direct and an indirect object (as in English):He gives me the book.—Mir is the indirect object (dative) and book is the direct object (accusative).

In addition to the single-word English translation, many dative verbs can be translated with a to-phrase: Reply, to give an answer to; to give thanks to; to be pleasing to; etc. This favorite grammar trick of many German teachers does not always hold up (as with follow, to follow). But this "to" aspect does have some basis in the German grammar of some dative verbs, in that they are not actually taking a true direct object.I do not believe you. (I don't believe you.) Is short forI don't believe you—In whichit is the true direct object andto you is a sort of "dative of possession" that could be translated "of you" (i.e., "I don't believe it of you.").

However, even if you are one of those rare people who find all this dative grammar fascinating, it is best to simply learn the more common dative verbs. Thus, the chart below, which lists the most common dative verbs — those that you should learn first.

Note that many dative verbs also have an accusative be prefix variation: answer / answer, thank / thank, etc.

Most Frequently Used Dative Verbs

Below are additional dative verbs that are less common, yet still important German vocabulary words. You'll also find a few genitive verbs listed below the dative chart.

Less Common Dative Verbs

Listen to, smile at, rejoice, agree to, agree with, and other verbs with a zu- prefix also take the dative. EXAMPLES:Do you agree? (Do you agree with me?);I listen to you. (I'm listening to you.)

Genitive verbs

Note: Verbs used with the genitive tend to be found in more formal writing (literature) or informal expressions. They are rare in conversational German. For some of these verbs, the genitive can be replaced by a prepositional phrase.

Genitive Examples

  • I need your help. | I need your help.
  • They are ashamed of their error. | They are ashamed of their error.
  • We meet to commemorate that man whose work was so important. | We meet to commemorate the man whose work was so significant.

For reflexive verbs (sich), see our Reflexive Verbs glossary.

Watch Now: Intro to German Nouns