According to my grammar texts (Hammer’s Grammar by Martin Durrell or Modern German Grammar by Dodd, Klapper, etc.), the noun phrase that denote what is measured should stand in apposition to the measurement notions, hence von zwei Pfund grünen Erbsen, where both Pfund and Erbsen are in the dative case.

On the other hand, according to Duden’s Richtiges und Gutes Deutsch, Erbsen should be in the genitive case if Pfund is in the dative case, hence von zwei Pfund grüner Erbsen, where grüner is in accordance to the plural genitive case.

Besides, I am wondering why Pfund needn’t be in the plural form in measurement constructions?

1 Answer 1


A measure of two pound of green peas would be (nominative, with preposition)

… zwei Pfund von grünen Erbsen …

The alternative form in replacing the preposition with a genitive of measure would be

… zwei Pfund grüner Erbsen …

and the colloquial, everyday form which is most commonly used today would be (all nominative, no preposition)

… zwei Pfund grüne Erbsen …

All can be used interchangeably, the first two are aging.

When the Erbsen is in dative case like in

ich koche ein Gericht aus zwei Pfund von grünen Erbsen

is possible as well as

Ich koche ein Gericht aus zwei Pfund grüner Erbsen

both of the above are grammatically correct, but pretty uncommon in day-to-day speech and most commonly replaced with

Ich koche ein Gericht aus zwei Pfund grünen Erbsen.

With regards to the expected plural on Pfund: German doesn’t pluralize common units of measure.

Das Brett ist zwei Fuss breit.

Uncommon units of measure (Glas, Tasse) can be flexed.

Ich trank drei Gläser Wasser vs. Ich trank drei Glas Wasser

And feminine “uncommon” units of measure ending in -e are always flexed

Ich trank drei Tassen Kaffee — here singular doesn’t work

  • 1
    I think von was only used as an example of a preposition demanding the dative case.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:35
  • Allright, re-worked the answer
    – tofro
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 12:28
  • 1
    A second category of units that is always flexed is time units: zwei Tage Bedenkzeit, drei Wochen Urlaub.
    – Uwe
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:49
  • 1
    @Uwe Yes, there are more exceptions. Constructs like "Ab einer Höhe von zwei Metern wird mir schwindlig" require pluralized units as well.
    – tofro
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:53

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