The difficulty, for me at least, with learning a new language is that it’s taken for granted that you have an excellent understanding of your mother language! This is a problem because while I have a good vocabulary and I has good grammar (!), I’m terrible at remembering what things are. Pronouns, adjectives, tenses, contexts, similes and adverbs all confuse me and have done since school.
So when it comes to learning these terms and how to use them in German, things get very messy. At the moment we’re tackling personal pronouns in German. A veritable minefield of exceptions, rules, tables and sometimes complete non-conformity. The personal pronouns in German can take four different forms although we’re only learning three for now. They are, the accusative, the nominative and the dative. Still with me? Good.
So the accusative (i.e. the, a, my…) and nominative (i.e. I, you, he she…) are understandable. We have them in English and as long as you translate what you need to say in English, remember the right German pronoun, apply the various rules and positioning of verbs, you’re fine. But the dative is causing me trouble because I’m not sure we have the equivalent in English and if so I think it’s the same as the other two? The direct translation from the dictionary is, “to whom”.
I’ve nicked this example from Wikipedia:
Ich sendete das Buch zum Verleger = I sent the book to the editor.
Here “Ich” is the nomative, “das buch” is the accusative and “zum Verleger” is the dative. I have an exam in this tonight! I’m hoping for divine inspiration from the Gods of pronouns and German grammar to see me through!