So far as I know, the ditransitive verb "to ask" takes two accusatives in German (fragen), and the verb "to give" takes one dative and one accusative in many languages. Is there a language in which the verb "to ask" can be followed by a dative case (assuming that the language has a distinct dative case)?

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    When does fragen take 2 accusatives in German? It seems one can say either fragen + acc or eine Frage stellen + dat. In most languages that I know, the equivalent of eine Frage fragen sounds oddly redundant. Only in English can it work, because they have different roots. Jun 6, 2016 at 5:51
  • This website link gives four verbs taking double accusatives, including the verb "fragen".
    – discenter
    Jun 6, 2016 at 6:41
  • German wiktionary gives an example :Er fragt sie, ob sie möchte.
    – discenter
    Jun 6, 2016 at 6:45
  • The use of fragen with double accusative is really marginal. A sentence like *Sie fragt ihn ein Wasser is ungrammatical. The only cases I can think of are Sie fragt ihn etwas (She asks him about something) and the question Was fragt sie ihn? (What is is asking him?) Jul 6, 2016 at 13:10
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    @aml: There is a distinction between thematic roles and case. 'Her' is not morphologically marked as dative, so there seems to be little reason for us to treat it as taking the dative case. Dec 8, 2016 at 2:03

4 Answers 4


In Russian, [по]просить, 'to ask', can be followed by the Dative case object, then the meaning is 'to ask for somebody', like it is often used in prayers to saints when you ask a saint that she ask God to give you something, e.g. "Попроси мне и моим близким здоровья", 'Ask for health for me and my family'. Here "мне" 'for me' and "моим близким" 'for my family' are both in Dative, and "здоровья" 'for health' is in Genitive.

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    I think, this is an incorrect example of verb governance. The verb "to ask" governs the noun case for an object who is being asked, not the reason of a request. In other words, "to ask him" (accusative) is correct while "to ask by voice" (instrumental) is incorrect. Also, in English, "to ask" has two meanings (to beg and to question), and the OP definitely means "fragen" (not "bitten"), while your answer is about the meaning, "to beg". Jun 5, 2016 at 20:56
  • I agree with @bytebuster that this is not what the question is asking for, add, however, that you have the same construction with Latin posco. For example, Plautus writes: sine dote posco tuam sororem filio “I ask for your sister (acc.) for my son (dat.) without a dowry”.
    – fdb
    Jun 7, 2016 at 14:28

Turkish: Ona nedenini sor. Literal translation to German would be: Frage ihm/ihr den Grund. The asked person is in dative. The topic to be asked is in accusative.


In French, the recipient of demander ('ask') is dative:

(1) Je  lui   demande de répondre à  cette question.
    1sg 3.DAT ask     of respond  to this  question
    I ask him to respond to this question.

In Late Archaic Chinese, 問 wen ('ask') can subcategorise for a recipient, which is also dative.

(2) 孔子    與   之    坐  而   問  焉
    Kongzi  yu  zhi   zuo er   wen yan
    Kongzi  COM 3.ACC sit CONJ ask 3.DAT
    Confucius sat with him and asked him.

In both cases, the verb can also take an accusative object meaning what is being asked. In addition, the dative case only appears when the recipient is a pronoun; otherwise a prepositional phrase appears, respectively à in French and yu in Late Archaic Chinese.


In contrast to the previous answer in Czech, the verb "zeptat se" is actually being used when you're referring to the object of asking with dativ (but can not be used in the described meaning)

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