There are several uses
of the dative case:
The most common use of the dative case is to show the indirect object. English
identifies the indirect object by a prepositional phrase, starting with "to..."
or "for..." Greek simply changes the form of the word that indicates the indirect
object to the dative case.
PLACE OR LOCATION:
When location is specified, without any sense of motion to or from, the noun
indicating the location is put in the dative case within a prepositional phrase:
in the house by the river on the rock.
The instrument or means by which an action in the sentence is done is frequently
expressed by a noun in the dative case. (See the phrase "with a knife"
in the example below.)
Note the different uses of the dative case in the following sentence, taken
from a game of CLUE.
"The murder was done
in the ballroom with a knife."
In Greek, the words "the
ballroom" would be in the dative case within a prepositional phrase beginning
with the word "in," as it is in English. In
Greek, the words "with a knife" would be represented in one word only, "knife,"
in the dative case.
When translating the word 'knife' from Greek into English, we would need
to use a prepositional phrase ("with a knife") to capture the
instrumental sense expressed in Greek with the dative case.