In the Spiegel's article I cathed my eye the following sentence:

Henry und ich waren verschiedener Meinung.

As far as I can see, the adjektiv verschieden is in Dative case (-er + Female noun). Is it correct or it's in Genitive? Actually, I expected to see here Nominative, rather than Dative or Genitive.

Can I assume, that after sein should always go the Dative or the sentence above is just an idiom?

1 Answer 1


You cannot use nominative in this example - Henry and I are not opinions

Henry und ich sind Lehrer.

Would be using nominative, just as in English.

Just as well, verschiedener Meinung is not dative in your example case.

Let's consider another example to make it clearer

Der Katholik und der Buddhist sind unterschiedlichen Glaubens

We're using a masculine substantive to be able to detect the case properly - Glaubens is clearly genitive.

This construct is called genitivus qualitatis or, in German, Genitiv der Beschaffenheit and is used to describe a qualitative attribute of an object. Other examples of this usage are

Ich bin protestantischen Glaubens

die Freude war kurzer Dauer

der Mann war mittleren Alters

Ihre Familie war chinesischen Ursprungs

Modern German tends to use this specific case less and less and replaces it with prepositional expressions like

der Mann war von mittlerem Alter

die Freude war von kurzer Dauer

(Here, von asks for the dative)

  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed expalanation. Just to be sure I got it correctly, according to Genitiv der Beschaffenheit, can I say: «Ich war gutes Students»?
    – Mike
    Apr 3, 2017 at 5:24
  • 1
    No, you can't. That would be a predicative - Ich war ein guter Student. Stressing it a bit far, you could just barely say: Ich war ein Student großen Fleißes
    – tofro
    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:08

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