ins /in das, im / in dem Café (dative, accusative)

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AnnaJDT

Senior Member
Romanian
Hello everyone!

I know it's correct to say:
1. Ich gehe ins Café. (accusative) Can I use "in das" Café instead?
2. Ich bin im Café. (dative) Can I use "in dem" Café instead? That's where it comes from, right?


Having these exemples in mind, I encountered this phrase: 3. Das können Sie im Zug machen. = That you can do in the train. (by "that" they refer to giving water to the dog).

So I wonder, why do we say "im Zug" (dative) and not "in den Zug" (accusative). Is it because machen and sein are both non-movement verbs? (notice how phrase 2 and 3 have the use of IM in common)

Thank you.
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    I know it's correct to say:
    1. Ich gehe ins Café. (accusative) Can I use "in das" Café instead?
    2. Ich bin im Café. (dative) Can I use "in dem" Café instead? That's where it comes from, right? :tick:
    That's right "im" comes from "in dem" and "ins" from "in das". But you cannot use the long form without changing the meaning. If you use the long form you emphasize the article, e.g.
    "Ich bin in dem Café." - you mean a very specific café, e.g. you always meet there or it is the only café in town

    Having these exemples in mind, I encountered this phrase: 3. Das können Sie im Zug machen. = That you can do in the train. (by "that" they refer to giving water to the dog).

    So I wonder, why do we say "im Zug" (dative) and not "in den Zug" (accusative). Is it because machen and sein are both non-movement verbs? (notice how phrase 2 and 3 have the use of IM in common)

    Thank you.
    The question is "Wo können Sie dem Hund Wasser geben?" - you ask for a place not a direction. Thus you have to use dative.


    "Machen" can be followed by an accusative phrase, too.

    "Der Hund macht in den Zug" - The dog does its business (peeing or worse) in the train.
     

    AnnaJDT

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thank you, Frank! So following your guidance, I found a way to test that I'm building the phrase correctly.
    Do you think it's a good idea to rephrase using "towards" that suggests direction, to make up my mind whether to use acc/dative? Or check if there is a destination or not?

    Example:
    1. Ich gehe ins Café. (accusative, because direction is involved: I go towards the café. Café is the destination.)
    2. Ich bin im Café. (dative; if I am in the café already, I certainly don't go towards it - no destination.)
    3. Das können Sie im Zug machen. (dative; I am doing something within the borders of the train. Again, no destination).
    4. Der Hund macht in den Zug (accusative). -- I don't really feel this phrase. The train is the destination... of the pee? Or maybe the scenario involves the dog being initially outside the train, but he jumps in (destination) the train and does his business? If the dog is already in the train when he does his business, we would use dative, right? Like this:
    Der Hund macht im Zug.

    I am trying to understand just how I am supposed to think and judge, I know that native speakers know these rules intuitively and probably don't normally apply consciously all sorts of silly rules: hey, this word is of feminine gender, and look, it's in the dative case, so it should have this declension, not the other one. Well, not sure if they are silly rules, but the grammar overall is beautiful.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    They are all correct. Probably you shouldn't worry about no. 4. It's a set phrase, I think.

    You can explain it by the fact that excretions always move towards somewhere. In this case, as you guessed, the destination is the train. Similar to "Der Hund macht an den Baum/in Gras/etc."
    Der Hund macht in den Zug=Der Hund macht sein Geschäft im Zug.
    It doesn't work without "sein Geschäft"
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    That's right "im" comes from "in dem" and "ins" from "in das". But you cannot use the long form without changing the meaning. If you use the long form you emphasize the article
    This is because in the uncontracted form it isn't an article but a demonstrative determiner. In German the equivalents of the and that are homonym and normally distinguished by stress only. In this special case, in dem means in that and im means in the. The same applies to other combinations where contraction is possible.
     
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