I read this sentence on a news website (bild.de) today:

Die beiden riesigen O-Buchstaben des Wahrzeichen von Los Angeles waren mit weißen und schwarzen Planen jeweils zu einem E abgewandelt worden.

Shouldn’t it be des Wahrzeichens? (Dictionary lists Zeichens in genitive). Is this a mistake, or is it sometimes acceptable to omit the genitive noun ending?

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    Yes, it should. This is a mistake. Note, however, that German is currently undergoing a long-term language change where inflections will probably eventually lost, so what's wrong today will be optional another day and normal eventually. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 7:11
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    What Kilian wrote is absolutely true: German is slowly changing all the time (like all living languages), and you can watch, that the genitive-s is omitted very often, and the rate of missing genitive-s's is increasing over the last years. It still is considered to be an error, but you will see this error more and more often in the future, and I bet, that in a few decades the genitive-s will officially be labeled as »optional«. But now, in 2017, it still is mandatory. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is a mistake. It not acceptable to leave out the declension ending except in very few cases where different declensions are possible.

  • OK, thanks! I guess it is something that language learners should keep in mind - that there will be mistakes even in reputable native language sources. Although it is definitely very confusing for beginners who are just trying to make some sense of the grammar.
    – Viktor
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 1:39
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    @Viktor Your usage of the word ‘reputable’ in connection (even if loose) to the Bild gutter paper is … daring.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 1:41
  • Oh, ok, I didn't realize, thanks for the notice. I was just looking for some news website to use as a reading exercise, and decided to go with "the most visited", and I think it brought me to Bild. This is way off-topic, but since it has been brought up, it would be nice if you could recommend some other source instead - more reputable, and hopefully more careful with their grammar too :-)
    – Viktor
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 3:30
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    @Viktor There are quite a few. I personally prefer sueddeutsche.de (from the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung) and zeit.de (from the weekly newspaper ZEIT). Both are liberal to left-ish newspapers; if you’re more conservative, then faz.net (from the Frankfurter Allgemeine) may be your type of paper.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:51

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