6.9.1 Nominative, genitive, dative and accusative

The declension is the champion among the difficulties in learning a language, especially to distinguish between a direct object (accusative) and an indirect object (dative). But let' s start from the beginning. Why we have to know what is a direct and indirect object? Let' s have a look at these sentences.

I saw him.

I give him the book.

In both sentences we use the word him. The question is, whether these two 'him' have the same grammatical function. In some languages, it's quite easy to find out if they have the same function because you use different interrogative pronouns to ask for them.

'Who / what' is used to ask for direct object, an accusative.

'To whom' is used to ask for an indirect object, a dative.

Therefore, it is quite easy to find out whether the two 'him' have different functions or not.


I saw him.
=> Who or what did I see ? => him
=> him is a direct object.

I give him the book.
=> To whom did I give the book? => to him
=> him is an indirect object.

Since the personal pronouns don't distinguish in their form between a direct and an indirect object, they are simply called objective pronouns in English. In other languages that wouldn't make any sense because all other languages have a different form for the direct object and the indirect object, but in English you always have the same form.

I see me in the mirror.
=> Who or what do I see in the mirror? => me
=> me is a direct object

I give me the book.
=> To whom do I give the book? => to me
=> me is an indirect object

I see you in the mirror.
=> Who or what do I see in the mirror? you
=> you is a direct objet.

I give you the book.
=> Who or what I give the book? you
=> you is an indirect object

I see her in the mirror.
=> Who or what do I see in the mirror? her
=> her is a direct object

I give her the book.
=> To whom do I give the book? to her
=> her is an indirect object.

I see us in the mirror.
=> Who or what do I see in the mirror? us
=> us is a direct object

I give us the book.
=> To whom do I give the book? to us
=> us is an indirect object.

It works the same way if the direct object is a thing. (The indirect object is very seldom a thing, the indirect object in general is a living beeing.

I see the book?
=> Who or what do I see? the book
=> the book is a direct object.

I see it.
=> Who or what do I see? it
=> it is a direct object.

Why it is necesary to be able to distinguish between a direct and an indirect object? It is important, because the the translation of a direct object is different depending on wheter it is a directo or a indirect object.

direct object:
I see him.
Lo vedo.
indirect object:
I give him the book
Gli do il libro.

direct object:
I see her.
La vedo.
indirect object.
I give her the book.
Le do il libro.

We are going to discuss the personal pronouns later in detail. Until now the only, very important thing to understand is that the personal pronouns me, you, him, her, us, you, them can be a direct object and an indirect object and that in Italian you have a special form for the direct and the indirect object.





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