The dative case is a grammatical case for nouns and/or pronouns. The dative marks, generally, the indirect object of a verb; other uses include possession, as in Vulgar Latin and, to a lesser extent, Classical Latin.
The dative was common among early Indo-European languages and has survived to the present in the Slavic branch, the Baltic branch and the Germanic branch, among others. It also exists in similar forms in several non-Indo-European languagues, such as the Finno-Ugric family of languages, Navajo and Japanese.
Languages that use or used the dative case include:
- Ancient Greek (and occasionally Modern Greek)
- Old English
Though in English, the indirect object of an action is sometimes expressed with a prepositional phrase of 'to' or 'for', an accusative pronoun can be placed directly after the main verb and used in a dative manner, provided that the verb has a direct object as well; for example, "He gave me that" or "He built me a snowman". In both examples, the accusative "me" functions as a dative. This collapse of the accusative and dative pronouns (which were distinct in Old English) into the same pronoun-set has led grammarians to discard the accusative/dative distinction in modern English grammar and refer to this combined form as the 'objective' (See also Declension in English).