The below sentence appears in the article “Wie aus einem Imbiss ein Geheim-Tipp für Feinschmecker wurde” from the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Gist of the article: Michelin Guide has by mistake awarded a star to a French sandwich bar "Le Bouche à Oreille" in the French city of Bourges, while it actually had to award the star to the same-named restaurant in Paris. As a result, gourmands and restaurant critics flocked en masse to "Le Bouche à Oreille" in Bourges. After a few days, the mistake was corrected.

In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage Sterne-Ruhm Spuren hinterlassen: "Plötzlich wurden wir total überrannt", erzählte Véronique Jacquet, Besitzerin der Imbissbude, der Zeitung Le Parisien.

Should not the above sentence read in one of the following ways:

In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage Sterne-Ruhms Spuren hinterlassen...


In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage Sterne-Ruhm-Spuren hinterlassen...

To me it seems that either Sterne-Ruhm should be in the genitive (Sterne-Ruhms) or Sterne-Ruhm Spuren should be written as a compound noun connected by hyphens (Sterne-Ruhm-Spuren).

  • vgl.: ein Glas Wasser
    – Carsten S
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 1:06

2 Answers 2


The sentence is correct in its original form. Your second suggestion gives a wrong parsing. Your first suggestion is at least not wrong, probably also fully correct but nobody would actually say it like that. I’m going to offer a fourth version modified from your first which works, too. But one thing after another.

Stripping away everything that is not required to form a complete sentence, the shortest form is:

Die Tage haben Spuren hinterlassen.

Spuren being the accusative object to the verb hinterlassen which is in perfect tense and die Tage being the sentences subject. So far, so clear. And there should be no question about in Bourges — an adverbial of location — or wenigen — an adjective to the subject noun Tage — either. What remains is how to parse Sterne-Ruhm. It belongs to the days, it clarifies which days we are talking about. If you wanted, you could consider it an attribute to the days in which case it should techinically be in genitive case — hence why your first suggestion seems correct to me (without me being able to make a clear call). However, it would be more common to use such a genitive case with an article, hence my fourth variant:

In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage des Sterne-Ruhms Spuren hinterlassen.

I suspect that something happened here that is also known from the genitive case that some prepositions would generally require: namely that the ‘complicated’ genitive has been replaced by a nominative construction. Compare:

Wegen Schneefall fällt heute der Unterricht aus.

Here, too, genitive would be formally correct but it is not as common in my experience; instead a replacement case is used which happens to be dative here, as can be seen using a plural form which labels dative:

Wegen Unwettern fällt der Unterricht aus

This also allows us to determine that Sterne-Ruhm is not in dative case by choosing a different noun and applying plural:

Die wenigen Tage Unwetter haben Spuren hinterlassen.

And finally, why is your second suggestion wrong? Well, Spuren is part of the object while Sterne-Ruhm belongs to the subject. They are not part of the same sentence fragment and thus cannot be a single word. If needed, we can reorder the sentence to show this:

Spuren haben die wenigen Tage Sterne-Ruhm in Bourges hinterlassen.

  • Some Bavarian example: "7 Tage Schweinebraten können anstrengend sein" (nominative) and "Tage des Ruhms" (movie title using genitive) work and are valid. I cannot really say I'd prefer one of the forms or one would be colloquial.
    – tofro
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:28
  • 1
    @tofro But Bavarian would be ‘7 Tage Schweinsbraten’ … D=
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:29

Both of your proposals are wrong, but with the first one you are quite close. E.g. it would be correct to write either

In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage unerwarteten Sterne-Ruhms Spuren hinterlassen.


In Bourges haben die wenigen Tage unerwarteter Sterne-Ruhm Spuren hinterlassen.

The point is: you can use the genitive here if there is an adjective before the noun, but without an adjective you have to use an apposition in nominative case.

The topic here is how to phrase measurements. They have a good overview of it at canoo.net. The main points for your case are:

When what is measured is singular and when it is accompanied by an inflected adjective, it is an apposition that agrees in case with the measurement.

When what is measured is singular and when it is not accompanied by an inflected adjective, it is an apposition in the nominative case. Apposition with agreement and partitive genitive are [in this case] not possible.

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