The Dative case reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Dative case

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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:

While the dative case is no longer a part of the English grammar, it survives in a few set expressions. One good example is the word methinks, with the meaning "it seems to me". It survives in this fixed form from the days of Old English (having undergone, however, phonetical changes with the rest of the language), in which it was constructed as me (the dative case of the personal pronoun) + thinks ("to seem", a verb closely related to the verb "to think", but distinct from it in Old English; later it merged with "to think" and lost this meaning).

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).