3

So it occurred to me that, just as one can say "der Wagen is rot", one should be able to say

Der Wagen ist mein

with the uninflected (predicative) adjective "mein". That should merely mean, that the car belongs to me.

That is slightly different from

Der Wagen ist meiner

where we are using a possessive pronoun (ie, "der Wagen ist mein Wagen").

If some reader speaks spanish, I interpret the two sentences as meaning

El/Ese coche es mío

and

El/Ese coche es el mío

respectively.

The first sentences uses the possessive "mio" as predicative, and it means "der Wagen gehört mir". It just says that the car has the "property" of being mine (like "being red", "being fast", and so on).

The second one uses a pronoun, and it means "among all cars, this is the one that belongs to me". Admittedly not a big difference, but it is definitely there and natives do perceive it.

Does this subtle difference also exist between the two german phrases (assuming the first one is correct)?

  • Is there any difference in meaning between the Spanish sentences? – Wrzlprmft May 1 '14 at 0:12
  • 2
    What was your question, exactly? And, no, I don't speak Spanish. – Ingmar May 1 '14 at 3:28
  • "Der Wagen ist mein" is imho no right German I just know some cologne guys who say that. The correct form would be: "Der Wagen gehört mir". – rekire May 1 '14 at 6:34
  • @Wrzlprmft: yes, there's a slight difference in meaning. The first uses the possessive as predicative, and it means "der Wagen gehört mir". It just says that the car has the "property" of being mine. The second one uses a pronoun, and it means "among all cars, this is the one that belongs to me". Admittedly not a big difference, but it is definitely there and the natives do perceive it. – persson May 1 '14 at 8:50
  • @karoshi You're right making a distinction between both Spanish sentences. I'm not sure, however, if you really mean el coche es el mío or ese coche es el mío; el rarely works as demostrative. – c.p. May 1 '14 at 9:17
4

Both sentences are correct and have exactly the same meaning in German. Albeit, the first one

Der Wagen ist mein.

is very rarely used and might be interpreted as wrong (see the comments).

In some Upper and Central German dialects, one can also hear

Der Wagen ist mir.

but this is not part of Standard German.

  • 1
    "Der Wagen ist mein" is correct but very obsolete usage. "Der Wagen ist mir" must be some regional dialect that I have never, ever, heard. – wolfgang May 2 '14 at 22:27
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    I don't have daily contact with German, but have had enough contact to say that "der Wagen ist mir" must be quite rare or regional - otherwise I would have heard this kind of utterance at least once. Who uses this construction? – Walter Tross May 2 '14 at 22:39
  • As a native speaker, I have never heard "Der Wagen ist mir" (and would definitely consider it wrong). "Der Wagen gehört mir" is probably the most common way to express ownership, while "[Etwas] ist mein" would be old-fashioned but correct (you can frequently find this in fairy tales). – Hulk May 5 '14 at 12:28
  • "Der Wagen ist mir." would be perfect dialect in Baden or Bavaria. I do not consider it proper German though. – Steffen Roller May 5 '14 at 21:28
  • Obviously, I have generalized my dialectal knowledge. – Toscho May 8 '14 at 14:21
5

In any case "Der Wagen ist mein" is unusual, old-fashioned or Bible style. Once in my life I heard the following dialogue.

  • Wem gehört denn der Hut da? -- Das ist ja der meinige.

Normally one would say:

  • Das ist ja meiner./ Der gehört ja mir.
  • 1
    Dieser Hut ist mein (This hat is mine) is even worse. Not wrong, but, well, definitely ... biblical. – Ingmar May 1 '14 at 8:18
0

For possessive genitive case is used in German.
"That's my car" is said as "That is the car of me."

An example:

Das ist der Wagen meines Bruder. ("That is the car of my brother" for "That is my brother's car".)

  • Ok. This is better and I retract my downvote. However, I think this doesn't address the actual question. Also note that you can say "Das ist meines Bruders Auto" in German which is a word-for-word translation of "That is my brother's car". – Em1 May 9 '14 at 10:25
  • Oh. Noted. :) I'm still learning German.! And Thanks for the advice. – Frankenstein May 9 '14 at 10:30

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