I’m collecting data on phrases with two-way prepositions. These are the prepositions that can go with either Dativ or Akkusativ case depending on the usage (an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen, and entlang¹).

An initial is to create a list of 2-grams consisting of preposition and article, e.g., über die, which can be either feminine or plural Akkusativ. The list:

  • über die (Akkusative feminine or Akkusative plural)
  • über das (Akkusative neutral)
  • über der (Dativ feminine)
  • über dem (Dativ masculine or Dativ neutral)
  • über den (Akkusativ masculine or Dativ plural)

My question: Are there any phrases that contain a member of this list that doesn’t fall in the specified category? Using the Google N-gram viewer, I can only find the 10 most common occurences (see here for an example). Is there ever literary or poetic wording where the word order is atypical and, for example, über der can ever be used such that der is the Nominativ masculine? Punctuation between words matters, so über, der is distinct from über der.

¹ entlang is a postposition when used in the Akkusativ.


2 Answers 2


The list is complete. Just to be strict, there's something you might want to consider:

In a poetic context you might stumble upon a vorangestellter Genitiv:

…, der über der Königin lange Haaren spricht. (notice the absence of the coma)

which actually means:

…, der über die langen Haaren der Königin spricht.

By the same token,

…, der über des Königs Thron spricht.

As you say, it would be common to find über, der. For instance:

Wir setzen den Fluss über, der …

There der is nominative, but there is a coma.

  • Super. this is exactly the exception I was looking for.
    – philshem
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 10:05
  • 4
    the presentation of the example clauses is incomplete. to complicate matters, there are 2 readings engendering different case marking. 1. über der königin langen haaren (über [location] den langen haaren der königin) (above the queen's long hair); 2. über der königin lange haare (über [theme] die langen haare der königin) (about the queen's long hair).
    – collapsar
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 10:23
  • @collapsar which is beyond the scope of the question. I think the OP understands which is the appropriate case. But I do agree that adding a verb would be better. So, I did that.
    – c.p.
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 10:36
  • @c.p. your corrections require a minor morphological adjustment in the case marking of lange Haare (n suffix dropped).
    – collapsar
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 11:00

In addition to c.p.'s answer, there is also the case of attributes prepending a noun in plural. Cases relevant for this question can occur

  • for any transitive, non-reflexive verb.
  • for adjective with direct objects (Is this the correct term?).

Transitive, non-reflexive verbs

Ich rede über der Hilfe bedürfende Kinder. (der=genitive feminine)

Über der Toten gedenkende Menschen hinweg sah man die Grabsteine. (der=genitive plural)

Adjective with direct objects

Über den der Akten kundigen Richter sah der Angeklagte schon die Gefängnisfenster. (der=genitive feminine)

  • Thanks, this is very helpful (and renders my project kaput).
    – philshem
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 7:50

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