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German Preposition Cases, Part III

This week we're continuing the German Preposition Cases series. Let's examine the prepositions that always require the genitive case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

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Let's start out by taking a look at the genitive case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the dative case: 

 

der => des
die => der
das => des
die
(plural) => der

 

And for the indefinite article

 

ein (masculine) => eines
eine => einer
ein (neuter) => eines

 

Remember too that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition. And while accusative and dative prepositions aren’t (with some exceptions) usually accompanied by altered nouns, masculine and neuter singular nouns preceded by genitive prepositions get the suffix “-s” or “-es.” Generally plural nouns don't change.

 

The common German prepositions that require the genitive case are anstatt or stattauβerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, and wegen. The preposition statt, which is not to be confused with the separable verb stattfinden, takes the genitive case. Here, the plural die Runden becomes the genitive der Runden:

 

... heizte Vettel statt der geplanten drei insgesamt sechs Runden über den Asphalt.

... instead of the planned three laps, Vettel sped six laps over the asphalt.

Caption 46, Formel-1-Autorennen Sebastian Vettels Homerun

 Play Caption

 

Here, the singular feminine noun die Wertung becomes the genitive der Wertung:

 

... und er fährt hier außerhalb der Wertung mit.

... and he's riding here without being scored.

Caption 35, Trial-Meisterschaft in Bensheim - Part 2

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Note that if a masculine or neuter proper noun is used, such as the continent das Asien, the proper noun has "-s" added as a suffix:

 

Bislang gibt es außerhalb Asiens überhaupt noch keine vergleichbare Drehscheibe.

Until now, outside of Asia, there hasn't been a comparable [yuan trading] hub at all.

Caption 40, Frankfurt wird Handelszentrum für die chinesische Währung Yuan

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In the following, the masculine nominative ein Dom becomes the genitive eines Doms:

 

Wir haben vier Segmente innerhalb eines Doms.

We have four segments inside a dome.

Caption 52, Bildverarbeitung Sirius Advanced Cybernetics

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It's also often possible to use außerhalb or innerhalb as dative prepositions by pairing them with von for the dative case: außerhalb von and innerhalb von.

 

Here, the nominative die Perücke, with the adjective goldene Perücke, becomes the genitive goldener Perücke. It is important to note that if no definite or indefinite article is present, the adjective takes the genitive ending: 

 

Trotz goldener Perücke hat der einst vornehme Herr wohl schon bessere Zeiten gesehen!

Despite the gold wig, the once distinguished gentlemen has indeed seen better times!

Caption 3, Architektur Karlsruher Brunnen - Part 2

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In this next caption, the neuter nominative das Training becomes the genitive des Trainings

 

Und wie ist das passiert? Während des Trainings?

And how did it happen? During the training?

Caption 33, Jenny und Alena Handball

 Play Caption

 

 

And in the last of our genitive case examples, the masculine nominative der Getriebeschaden becomes the genitive des Getriebeschadens

 

... wegen eines Getriebeschadens zurück in die Boxengasse.

... go back into the pit lane due to transmission damage.

Caption 43, Formel-1-Autorennen Sebastian Vettels Homerun

 Play Caption

 

 

You may have noticed that the personal pronouns were not listed at the top of this lesson. That's because personal pronouns aren't generally used in formal German, however the usually genitive prepositions anstatt or statt, trotz, während and wegen are sometimes used with personal pronouns informally — but with the dative case!

 

Thus the singular and plural personal pronouns "I," "you," "he," "she," , "it," "we," and "they" take the dative case with the above genitive prepositions:

 

ich => mir
du => dir
Sie
(formal "you") => Ihnen
er 
=> ihm
sie 
=> ihr
es
=> ihm
ihr => euch

wir => uns
sie
=> ihnen
Sie (formal "you" plural) => Ihnen

 

Probably the most commonly-heard example is, instead of saying "because of me" as meinetwegen, you'll often hear:

 

Und ihr seid auch da. Etwa wegen mir?
And you are here too. Somehow because of me?
Caption 2, Otto Waalkes: Hier kommt Otto!

 

Remember too that meinetwegen also has a slang usage meaning "I don't have anything against it". We'll cover the informal usage of dative personal pronouns with usually genitive prepositions in another lesson! 

 

Further Learning
To recap, the common German prepositions that require the genitive case of definite and indefinite articles and nouns are anstatt or stattauβerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, and wegenGo to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives formally take the genitive case. Also review Part II in this series about prepositions that require the dative case.

The Preposition Seit: "Since" or "For"?

One of the most common mistakes that native German speakers make when translating the preposition seit to English is to always render it as "since," but in contexts where the English word is meant to be used to indicate the passing of a period of time, it should usually be translated as "for." The mistake seems to be common with Europeans speaking English, as I hear it regularly on the streets and in cafés and restaurants in Berlin, where so many Europeans are speaking English as a lingua franca.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Yes, I have been going there since (correct: for) many years.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since (correct: for) at least a decade.
I have lived in Berlin since (correct: for) 16 years. 

 

It's easy to see how this mistake is made, as the German sentence uses the word seit and as it's actually correct to use "since" if a specific year is used in the same sentences: 

 

Yes, I have been going there since 2018.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since at least 2012.
I have lived in Berlin since 2006. 

 

Here are some examples of seit used on Yabla German with the correct English translations "for" and "since." Note the way that the context of each sentence changes which English word is used.

 

„Mir ist so“, maulte Piggeldy, „als tue ich das schon seit Tagen!“

"For me it's like," muttered Piggeldy, "as if I have already been doing this for days!"

Caption 11, Piggeldy und Frederick - Wanderdüne

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Seit Montag wird das Lied im Radio gespielt.

The song has been playing on the radio since Monday.

Caption 33, Liza - Ein Lied für Opel

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Sie schreibt ihr Referat, an dem sie schon seit zwei Wochen arbeitet.

She is writing her paper that she has been working on for two weeks.

Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

 Play Caption

 

Seit vergangener Woche hat die Kranich-Airline nun ihren ersten gebrandeten A dreihundertachtzig in Betrieb.

Since last week, the crane airline has now had its first branded A three hundred and eighty at work.

Caption 9, Rund um den Flughafen - Der neue Airbus A-380

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Na ja, ich krieg' ja seit Monaten keine Wochenendzeitungen mehr.

Oh well, I haven't been getting a weekend newspaper for months.

Caption 8, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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OK, ihr seid jetzt seit April in Deutschland, ja?

OK, you have been in Germany now since April, right?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

 Play Caption

 

Ich spiel' jetzt schon seit zehn Jahren Handball.

I've been playing handball for ten years now.

Caption 7, Jenny und Alena - Handball

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Also, die Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie gibt es seit dem Jahr zweitausend-und-acht.

Well, the sustainability strategy has been there since the year two thousand eight.

Caption 37, Rheinmain im Blick - Nachhaltigkeit

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A general rule of thumb is to translate seit as "since" if it refers to a specific date such as a year, month, or day of the week. If it is referring to a length of time, such as "many years," then seit is usually translated as "for."

 

Further Learning
Compare other contexts in which seit is used on Yabla German and study some other uses of the word in which the preposition seit can also be translated as "because."

Using während

The German word während means "during" or "while." If you have learned this word, you likely also learned that it is a preposition used with the genitive case. In fact, this is not always the case. But there are two common structures for the implementation of this word, so let's look at some examples.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The genitive case is required when während is used with a noun that expresses a period of time. 

 

Und wie ist das passiert? Während des Trainings?

And how did it happen? During the training?

Caption 33, Jenny und Alena - Handball

 Play Caption

 

Während der vierzigtägigen Fastenzeit durften sie nur eingeschränkt essen.

During the forty day fasting period, they were only allowed to eat limited amounts.

Caption 18, Deutsches Bier - 500 Jahre Reinheitsgebot

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However, there are instances where it is correct to use the dative (See the link provided in "Further Learning"). Moreover, it is not uncommon to also hear the dative case used with während in colloquial spoken German. The dative case may be used with nominalized verbs, for example: 

 

Und jetzt geb ich während dem [Umgangssprache] Rühren nach und nach die Eier mit dazu.

And now I'll gradually add the eggs while stirring.

Caption 14, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt - Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Während is also implemented as a subordinating conjunction that connects a subordinate clause to a main clause. In this case, remember that the conjugated verb will be at the end of the subordinate clause.

 

Während ich weg bin, musst du das Haus fegen, Feuerholz hacken und den Kessel mit Wasser füllen!“

"While I am away, you must sweep the house, cut firewood and fill the kettle with water!"

Captions 22-23, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der Zauberlehrling

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So, während ich die Tafel putze, überlegt euch mal Verben mit Präpositionen.

So while I clean the blackboard, think about verbs with prepositions.

Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

 Play Caption

 

Danach sterben sie, während überall sonst endgültig der Bergfrühling einzieht.

Afterwards they die, while everywhere else the mountain spring finally moves in for good.

Caption 14, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

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Further Learning
To learn about instances in which the dative is used rather than the genitive, refer to the "Usage Notes" at the bottom of this page. You can review the declensions for the genitive and dative cases here. Then write your own sentences with the word während, or search for more examples on Yabla German.

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