Which construction is preferred in the following?

  1. Bruder der jungen Frau
  2. Bruder von junger Frau

Can someone please explain the particular constructions where "von" is preferred genitive over "des/der" and vice versa.

  • The most important difference is, that »Bruder von junger Frau« is wrong. It should be »Bruder von der jungen Frau«, and it is not genitive! It is dative. Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 15:03
  • @Hubert I don't think it's wrong, since it is used regularly in news headlines like Bruder von junger Frau dreht sich im Kreis. Was dann passiert, ist absolut unglaublich. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 4:40
  • @RolandIllig: Klingt nach vice, und ist ein starkes Indiz dafür, dass es falsch ist. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 7:02
  • "Bruder von junger Frau geschlagen" bedeutet, die Frau hat ihn geschlagen. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 7:05
  • @userunknown meinst du grammatikalisch falsch oder inhaltlich falsch? Letzteres glaube ich gerne, ersteres nicht. Dann halt ein anderes Beispiel: Mutter von fünf Kindern zu sein ist keine leichte Aufgabe – dieser Satz ist umgangssprachlich gebräuchlich und wesentlich häufiger anzutreffen als die Mutter fünfer Kinder. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


You seem to be confusing the genitive (spelling) case with the more general concept of describing a relationship or ownership.

von requires the dative and would be used like this:

[der] Bruder von der jungen Frau

[der] Bruder von einer jungen Frau

It might be a little confusing that the definite article for female nouns takes the same form for both genitive and dative: der Frau.

Without the von you'd put the "junge Frau" into genitive:

[der] Bruder der jungen Frau

[der] Bruder einer jungen Frau

The option using dative is more colloquial and used in spoken language; the option with genitive is more formal and more appropriate for written language.


I use the Genitive in formal language, also while speaking Standard German. In many German dialects, its usage has been limited or sometimes even non-existant. This idea that it does not exist in spoken language is false, especially when discussing complex topics (like at the university). However, I do not use it while speaking in my dialect.

Perhaps an analogy is best. If you are coming from the English speaking world, it's the same concept as this:

Dative "m"

The car of the man is red.

Das Auto/Der Wagen vom Mann ist rot.

Genetive "s"

Do not let the apostrophe fool you. It was only added to English in non-emphasized syllables. The "s" is a remnant of inflection.

The man's car is red.

Das Auto des Mannes ist rot.

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