The dative case is a grammatical case that typically marks the indirect object of a verb. The indirect object can be the recipient or beneficiary of a verb. We can find the indirect object by asking “for whom?” or “to whom?” depending on the context. For example, in the sentence “We sent mom flowers”, the question “for whom?” and in the sentence “We gave mom flowers”, the question “to whom?” indicate that “mom” is the indirect object.

Dative Case in Persian

The dative case is chiefly marked with به (“be”). The preposition برای (“barâ-ye”) is used in certain cases, particularly when it is needed to indicate the beneficiary of a verb rather than simply its recipient.

به مادر گل دادیم
Be mâdar gol dâdim
We gave mom flowers
برای مادر گل فرستادیم
Barâ-ye mâdar gol ferestâdim
We sent mom flowers
به پدرم گفتم
Be pedar-am goftam
I told my father
به مادرم کمک کردم
Be mâdar-am komak kardam
I helped my mother
به پاریس که رسیدی، به ما زنگ بزن
Be Pâris ke residi, be mâ zang bezan
Call us when you arrive in Paris
به کنسرت می‌رویم
Be konsert miravim
we're going to a concert
پارسال، به ایران سفر کردم
Pârsâl, be Irân safar kardam
Last year, I traveled to Iran
به تو فکر می‌کنم
Be to fekr mikonam
I think about you
به ساعتش نگاه کرد
Be sâat-aš negâh kard
She looked at her watch
به کمکت نیاز دارم
Be komak-at niyâz dâram
I need your help
آن اتفاق به شهرتش آسیب زد
Ân ettefâǧ be šohrat-aš âsib zad
That incident harmed his reputation

Compare the following examples. The verb is “to send” in both sentences. The preposition برای marks the target when it is beneficiary and the preposition به marks the target when it is recipient.

برای مادر گل فرستادند
Barâ-ye mâdar gol ferestâdand
They sent mom flowers
به مرز سرباز فرستادند
Be marz sarbâz ferestâdand
They sent troops to the border

The ablative case marks “source” and the dative case marks “target”. This can be easily seen in the following example:

از انگلیسی به فارسی ترجمه کردن
Az Engelisi be Fârsi tarjome kardan
To translate from English into Persian

Dative of Pronouns

The dative marker به can combine with bound personal pronouns and free personal pronouns. Bound pronouns are not normally used in written Persian and are typical of spoken Persian. The following table demonstrates bound dative pronouns as they are written and pronounced in informal speech. The “h” in “be-hem” and other forms is an epenthetic consonant used to resolve vowel hiatus.

Singular Plural
1st Person بهم
2nd Person بهت
3rd Person بهش

The following table demonstratives free dative pronouns.

Singular Plural
1st Person به من
be man
به ما
be mâ
2nd Person به تو
be to
به شما
be šomâ
3rd Person به او
be u
به آن
be ân
به آنها
be ânhâ