Dative Case in Russian

The dative case (дательный падеж) is used in Russian to denote the indirect object of a sentence to whom an action or object is given or that action's recipient or beneficiary. Generally, this meaning corresponds to the English words “to” or “for.” For example:

  • Алексей даёт цветы Марии. = Aleksei gives flowers to Maria.
  • Дайте мне совет, пожалуйста! = Give me advice, please!

Verbs that take the dative

Some verbs are followed by the dative case.

  • Даша радуется солнцу. = Dasha is happy at the sun.
  • Я помогаю Александру. = I am helping Alexander.
  • Саша звонит Андрею каждый день. = Sasha calls Andrei every day.
  • Почему Фродо доверяет Голлуму? = Why does Frodo trust Gollum?

Generally these verbs that take the dative denote certain meaning.

Dative verbs: Helping, giving a service, conforming, or causing a problem

  • аплодировать = to applaud
  • вредить = to harm
  • изменять = to betray
  • мешать = to hinder
  • напоминать = to remind
  • повиноваться = to obey
  • позволять = to allow
  • помогать = to help
  • противоречить = to obey
  • служить = to serve
  • советовать = to advise
  • содействовать = to cooperate
  • угождать = to please
  • учить = to teach (when with accusative, means to learn)

Dative verbs: An attitude

  • верить = to believe
  • грозить = to threaten
  • доверять(ся) = to trust
  • досаждать = to annoy
  • завидовать = to envy
  • льстить = to flatter
  • подражать = to imitate
  • поражаться = to sympathize with
  • радоваться = to rejoice at
  • сочувствовать = to sympathize with
  • удивляться = to be surprised at

Impersonal constructions that use the dative

Dative impersonal constructions with a verb

Several very common dative constructions in Russian involve impersonal verbs structured differently to how we speak in English. The most common ones are “нравится” (to like) and "казаться" (to seem). For example, in Russian, instead of saying "I like something," you would say "something is pleasing to me."

  • Она тебе не нравится? = You don’t like her.
  • Им хотелось поехать в Лондон. = They felt like going to London.
  • Брату кажется, что тепло. = My brother thinks it is warm.
  • Ему надоело работать. = He is bored with working.
  • Сестре приходится много работать. = My sister is obliged to work a lot.
  • Мне удалось достать деньги. = I managed to get the money.

Dative impersonal constructions without a verb

In English, we say “I feel something.” In Russian, you say “there is some feeling to me” – “мне что-то.” Most impersonal constructions that use the dative case denote a state of mind, feeling, inclination, or attitude. For example:

  • Мне холодно / жарко / тепло. = I’m cold / hot / warm.
  • Нам скучно / интересно. = We are bored / interested.
  • Мне не было ее жалко. = I didn’t feel sorry for her.
  • Ученику весело / грустно. = The student feels happy / sad.
  • Ему было лучше / хуже. = He was better/ worse.

Dative as the logical subject of an infinitive

Sometimes in Russian, a noun or a pronoun in the dative case may function as the logical subject of an infinitive.

  • Что им делать? = What are they to do?
  • Не нам решать. = It is not for us to decide.
  • Другу некуда идти! = My friend has nowhere to go!

Saying your age with the dative

In Russian, you don’t say “I have” or "I am" but instead “there are to me” however many years old. For example:

  • Мне тридцать три года. = I am thirty three years old.

Adjectives that take the dative

Here are common Russian adjectives you should know that take the dative.

  • благодарный = grateful to
  • верный = loyal to
  • знакомый = known to
  • известный = well known to
  • подобный = similar to
  • послушный = obedient to
  • присущий = inherent in
  • рад = glad to

More info on the Russian cases

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