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12.9 The genitive case - possession

Usage of the genitive case
The main usage of the genitive case is to link nouns or noun phrases where English would normally use "of". It often indicates possession or ownership:

die Wohnung des Arztes
("the (male) doctor's flat")
die Wohnung der Ärztin
("the (female) doctor's flat")
der Keller des Hauses
("the cellar of the house")
das Zimmer der Kinder
("the children's room")

The genitive can also be used in German to link nouns or noun phrases where English would normally use "of":

die Abfahrt des Zuges
("the departure of the train")
die Farbe des Fernsehers
("the colour of the TV set")
die Sanierung des Hauses
("the renovation of the house")
ein Strahl der Hoffnung
("a ray of hope")

Genitive: before or after?
As you will see from the above examples, the German genitive usually follows the noun on which it depends - e.g. "die Wohnung des Arztes" (= the doctor's flat).

The only exception to this is that proper names and personal names in the genitive case usually come first. Unlike in English, there is no apostrophe before the genitive "-s" on personal names. Names ending in "-s", "-x" and "-z" usually add an apostrophe after the final letter of the name in the genitive case:

No apostrophes
das ist Marlenes Toaster
("that's Marlene's toaster")
links nebenan ist Marlenes Zimmer
("Marlene's room is next to it on the left")
Goethes Bücher
("Goethe's books")
Deutschlands Grenzen
("Germany's borders")
das ist Andreas Stereoanlage
("this is Andrea's stereo system")
das ist Andreas' Stereoanlage
("this is Andreas's stereo system")
das ist Fritz' Schwester
("this is Fritz's sister")

Weiter!Chapter 12.10: The genitive case - prepositions

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