Plural definite:    Plural indefinite:

Nominativ:    die Äpfel           Äpfel
Genitiv:      der Äpfel           Äpfel
Dativ:        den Äpfeln          Äpfeln
Akkusativ:    die Äpfel           Äpfel


              Plural definite:    Plural indefinite:
Nominativ:    die Männer          Männer
Genitiv:      der Männer          Männern <-- THIS
Dativ:        den Männern         Männern
Akkusativ:    die Männer          Männer


Why does Männer acquire an -n ending in the indefinite genitive, but Äpfel doesn't?

May 17 The error was not in the source. Take a look at this link: http://www.welt.de/vermischtes/article3011942/Wenn-Frauen-toeten-dann-oft-wegen-der-Maenner.html

wegen is a preposition that always takes the genitive. In the title the definite plural form (wegen der Männer) is used, but later in the article the indefinite plural form (wegen Männern) is used.

I'd still very much like an explanation of why the definite and indefinite forms differ in this case, as I haven't been able to find an answer anywhere.

  • Could you please add the source where you found these declination tables? I followed your links but couldn't find them.
    – boaten
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:02
  • 6
    This seems wrong to me.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:09
  • 1
    @boaten, da ist links neben dem Abspielicon für die Aussprache noch ein weiteres Icon, das vielleicht ein Buch oder eine Tabelle symbolisiert.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:11
  • @CarstenS Ah, danke.
    – boaten
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:12
  • 2
    When would you use that form anyway? "Ich gedenke der Männer" - "Ich gedenke Männer[n]"? -" Ich bedarf der Männer" - "Ich bedarf Männer[n]". They all sound weird anyway, but probably more so because the genitive is getting out of fashion. Feb 23, 2016 at 21:37

3 Answers 3


It doesn’t; it’s an error in your source. Canoonet, e.g., correctly has Männer.

Regarding your addition of wegen Männern: The problem here is in your assumption that “wegen is a preposition that always takes the genitive”. This is wrong; in fact, the dative is arguably more common in spoken language, and there are certain cases where dative is used even in standard language, of which this is one. See again Canoonet for the details.

  • 1
    The question concerns indefinite nouns though. (I agree with you, but your link doesn't answer the question.)
    – boaten
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:15
  • Is the indefinite plural form ever different from the definite one?
    – Carsten S
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:16
  • 3
    @Carsten S: Only for adjectives-turned-nouns, such as Angestellter (die Angestellten, einige Angestellte).
    – chirlu
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:27

Well, I do have the answer now. The genitive indefinite plural of Mann is indeed Männer and not Männern, but the dative is used instead when the genitive is not apparent (die Autos Männern, not die Autos Männer). The same with Äpfel.

Leo was at fault here. The entries for Mann, Wald and Gott all give the dative instead of the genitive form in indefinite plural.

  • 3
    What is "die Autos Männern" supposed to mean?
    – fdb
    Oct 11, 2019 at 11:55
  • But then it is "wegen Äpfeln" too or "wegen Kindern" or "wegen Dampfschifffahrern", et cetera. That concerns all nouns meaning, you have to use the Dative, when you work with "wegen" in the indefinite plural, though in other cases you do use the Genitive. - - - Also "Die Autos Männern" means nothing, you need a definite article here! Dec 19, 2019 at 18:06

In German, we have a Genitivregel saying that the Genitive has to be recognizable either by the noun's or the article's (determiner's) or the adjective's ending. Plural nouns like Männer don't have a distinct genitive ending, the only distinct plural ending is -n for the dative Männern. So if you want to use Männer in the genitive you have to mark the genitive

  • by an article (determiner): die Autos mancher Männer
  • or by an adjective: (die) Autos französischer Männer

which is grammatically correct (but strange as an idea).

For syntactic or semantic reasons it is often not possible to add an article or an adjective, then you must construct your idea in another way, e.g. as a von-construction.

Ich empfehle die Lektüre des verlinkten Aufsatzes. Dort findet sich eine ausführliche syntaktische Diskussion der Genitivregel inklusive einer umfangreichen Liste von Ausweichkonstruktionen. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Regel sind Tabellen, in denen Genitivformen von Substantiven ohne deutlichen hinweis darauf, dass diese Formen nicht isoliert verwendet werden dürfen, irreführend. Das gilt, soweit ich sehe, für alle artikellosen Genitiv-Pluralformen, denn eine separate Genitiv-Plural-Endung der Nomina haben wir im Deutschen nicht.

  • Good answer, except that viele is not an article. You could change the first example into die Autos der Männer.
    – chirlu
    Dec 20, 2019 at 23:06
  • @chirlu: I didn't want to give an example with a 'classical' article in order to bring to mind that there are many more 'articles' than der, die, das and ein/e. 'Viele' may be interpreted as a 'Quantifikativ-Artikel', but from a morphemic point of view it is declined like an adjective. As I don't want to discuss this point here I replace vieler by mancher. Dec 21, 2019 at 1:14

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