Latin for beginners (1911)/Part II/Lesson V

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41. The Dative Case. In addition to the relationships between words expressed by the nominative, genitive (possessive), and accusative (objective) cases, there are other relationships, to express which in English we use such words as from, with, by, to, for, in, at.[1]

Latin, too, makes frequent use of such prepositions; but often it expresses these relations without them by means of case forms which English does not possess. One of the cases found in the Latin declension and lacking in English is called the dā’tive.

42. When the nominative singular ends in -a, the dative singular ends in -ae and the dative plural in -īs.

Note. Observe that the genitive singular, the dative singular, and the nominative plural all have the same ending, -ae; but the uses of the three cases are entirely different. The general meaning of the sentence usually makes clear which case is intended.

a. Form the dative singular and plural of the following nouns: fuga, causa, fortūna, terra, aqua, puella, agricola, nauta, domina.

43. The Dative Relation. The dative case is used to express the relations conveyed in English by the prepositions to, towards, for.

These prepositions are often used in English in expressions of motion, such as She went to town, He ran towards the horse, Columbus sailed for America. In such cases the dative is not used in Latin, as motion through space is foreign to the dative relation. But the dative is used to denote that to or towards which a benefit, injury, purpose, feeling, or quality is directed, or that for which something serves or exists.

a. What dative relations do you discover in the following?

The teacher gave a prize to John because he replied so promptly to all her questions — a good example for the rest of us. It is a pleasure to us to hear him recite. Latin is easy for him, but it is very hard for me. Some are fitted for one thing and others for another.

44. The Indirect Object. Examine the sentence

Nauta fugam nūntiat, the sailor announces the flight

Here the verb, nūntiat, governs the direct object, fugam, in the accusative case. If, however, we wish to mention the persons to whom the sailor announces the flight, as, The sailor announces the flight to the farmers, the verb will have two objects:

1. Its direct object, flight (fugam)
2. Its indirect object, farmers

According to the preceding section, to the farmers is a relation covered by the dative case, and we are prepared for the following rule:

45. Rule. Dative Indirect Object. The indirect object of a verb is in the Dative.

a. The indirect object usually stands before the direct object.

46. We may now complete the translation of the sentence The sailor announces the flight to the farmers, and we have

Nauta agricolīs fugam nūntiat


First learn the special vocabulary, p. 283.

Point out the direct and indirect objects and the genitive of the possessor.


1. Quis nautīs pecūniam dat?
2. Filiae agricolae nautīs pecūniam dant.
3. Quis fortūnam pugnae nūntiat?
4. Galba agricolīs fortūnam pugnae nūntiat.
5. Cui domina fābulam nārrat?
6. Fīliae agricolae domina fābulam nārrat.
7. Quis Diānae corōnam dat?
8. Puella Diānae corōnam dat quia Diānam amat.
9. Dea lūnae sagittās portat et ferās silvārum necat.
10. Cuius victōriam Galba nūntiat?
11. Nautae victōriam Galba nūntiat.

Imitate the word order of the preceding exercise.


1. To whom do the girls give a wreath?
2. The girls give a wreath to Julia, because Julia loves wreaths.
3. The sailors tell the ladies[2] a story, because the ladies love stories.
4. The farmer gives his (§22.a) daughter water.
5. Galba announces the cause of the battle to the sailor.
6. The goddess of the moon loves the waters of the forest.
7. Whose wreath is Latona carrying? Diana's.



  1. Words like to, for, by, from, in, etc., which define the relationship between words, are called prepositions.
  2. Observe that in English the indirect object often stands without a preposition to to mark it, especially when it precedes the direct object.