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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: What’s the difference between ihn and ihm?
Ihn and Ihm both mean “him” in German. So, how do you know which one to use? Ihn is used for direct objects. That means it answers the questions “what?” or “whom?” Ihm is used for indirect objects. That means it’s used in response to questions like “to whom?” or “for what?” Does that sound confusing? Don’t worry, we’ll do some examples.
Now, there are two things you should know before we dive in. One, because ihn is a direct object, it’s used in the accusative case; so it marks the object that’s answering “what” or “whom.” For example, Ich rufe ihn an, “I’m calling him.” Here, the “him” is receiving the action “called;” and answering the question, “Who are you calling?” Ihm is used in the dative case, which means it’s supposed to mark the indirect object. For example, Ich gebe ihm einen Stift meaning “I give him a pen.” Here, Ich answers the question, “Who did you give the pen to?”
Let’s do some more examples so you can learn how to use ihn and ihm correctly.
First, let’s do an example with ihn. Our first sentence is Auch wenn wir ihn nicht mögen, laden wir ihn zur Party ein. This means, “Even though we don’t like him, we’ll invite him to the party.” Here, we have the word ihn twice. That’s because the object ihn meaning “him” is receiving two actions, “dislike” and “invite,” from the subject wir or “we.” Here, ihn would answer the questions, “Who do you dislike?” and “Who did you invite to the party?”
Next, let’s do an example with ihm. Ich habe ihm ein Geschenk gegeben? This means, “I gave him a present.” In this sentence, the ihm is receiving the present and answers the question, “To whom did you give the present?”
Lastly, let’s do an example with both ihm and ihn. Zeigen Sie ihm, dass Sie ihn lieben. “Show him that you love him.” Sounds romantic, right? Here, the ihm answers the question, “To whom are you showing love?” and the ihn answers the question, “Who do you love?”
How was this lesson?
Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”