I’m going crazy because all my dreams and rules are falling down.

As far as I know the preposition unter takes dative but the following examples don’t seem to be using dative.

(1) Unter welches Genre fällt Linkin Park?

(2) Wenn jemand ihre eigene Lebensgeschichte schreibt, fällt es unter dieses Genre: Biografie


3 Answers 3


Unter can go with either dative or accusative, and you came across two examples of usage with accusative.

  • fortunately it seems highly easy to comprehend
    – Dragut
    Jan 17, 2016 at 23:08
  • @Dragut You're right - German has some highly confusing patterns, but the case dichotomy for location/direction is nice and tidy. Nov 30, 2016 at 13:04

Unter is one of the two-way prepositions. It means it either takes the dative, or the accusative:

E.g. Die Katze schläft unter dem Tisch(e)

The cat sleeps under the table.

There's no movement involved, so it's in the dative case.

E.g. Die Katze und die Maus rennen unter den Tisch.

The cat and the mouse run under the table.

In this sentence, movement is present, so it is in the accusative case.

Here is a tricky sentence with which i had a problem in German class a decade ago:

The man walks back and forth under the bridge.

First, you will think that it is accusative, for there's movement present, right? Wrong, it takes the dative case :

Der Mann läuft hin und zurück unter der Brücke.

Now, you're wondering why it takes the dative instead of the accusative. The reason behind it is simple: the direction doesn't change and it's in the same spot.

  • 1
    Then this expression "Die Katze und die Maus rennen unter dem Tisch." would not be wrong according to the rules, if I want to imply where are they running(wo rennen sie?) :-/
    – Dragut
    Jan 17, 2016 at 23:24
  • If they're just in one spot, the sentence is correct. Jan 17, 2016 at 23:30

Let’s approach it. Remember that directional prepositions can usually take either dative or accusative, depending on whether there is movement or not. In this case, the verb fallen is one that indicates movement strongly. So whenever you fall over, across or below something, it is usually taken as a movement and the case of the location is accusative.

Ich falle über den Rand.

Note, however, that it is also possible to have a dative here if the location is just the general place where something happened and not a location onto which you fell:

Ich falle unter der Brücke ins Wasser.

We now have a figurative meaning of the verb fallen — but luckily that doesn’t change the general discussion. Before we get to your actual case, let’s quickly discuss unter den Tisch fallen, an expression meaning more or less to get ignored:

Meine Anmerkung ist unter den Tisch gefallen.

Here again, the movement is in the direction of below the table. So you can think of something being thrown down there from outside the table.

Finally, arriving at unter etwas (ein Genre etc.) fallen, it is the same movement. Think of it as throwing something into a box on which the genre is written. But we’re not looking at a box, we’re looking at a label. We’re throwing something below a label. So it is only natural to signify movement by using accusative:

Tarja Turunen fällt unter das Opera- oder Symphonic-Metal-Genre.

  • I'll think twice any more,before using a preposition,if there is a movement abstract or concrete, but I didn't understand how your comment(Anmerkung) falls under the Table,as far as know a comment can fall only as a spam,especially on blog's comment section?
    – Dragut
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:26
  • 1
    @Bergmann If you’re (e.g.) in a meeting, and you say something that is entirely ignored by all other participants, you could come out of the meeting and say ‘alles, was ich gesagt habe, ist unter den Tisch gefallen’ as a more figurative way of saying ‘alles, was ich gesagt habe, wurde ignoriert.’
    – Jan
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:28
  • gut :-) then when everything is understood: "alles, was ich gesagt habe, über den Tisch gefallen" or another figurative way?
    – Dragut
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:36
  • 1
    @Bergmann unfortunately not, stuff can only fall under the table (and wait there to be eaten by mice or something) ;)
    – Jan
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:50

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