The first paragraph of Chapter 12 of Robert Heinlein's Starman Jones ends with this sentence:

The ceremony was simple, with no spectator but Hendrix and the Captain's secretary.

A translation into German by Kurt Seibt and Rainer Schumacher, bearing the title Gestrandet im Sternenreich, is as follows:

Die Zeremonie war einfach, ohne weitere Zuschauer als Hendrix und dem Schreiber des Kapitäns.

So "als" is used here as a preposition whose object is in the dative case. I don't think I've seen this usage before, but I had no trouble understanding it, since I would routinely understand "weiter als" as "further than". However, this dictionary page doesn't seem to mention that particular way of using this word. Should it? Is this standard?

  • 2
    Your dictionary page lists kein andrer als - This is a very similar construct with very similar meaning
    – tofro
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 17:10
  • @tofro : The page doesn't say anything about dative case following that preposition. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 18:03
  • 2
    @dirkt "ohne" takes accusative.
    – Uwe
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:40
  • 1
    @Uwe Last time I looked, "dem" was not accusative ;)
    – tofro
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 21:21
  • @tofro Eben. Das ist ja das Irritierende. "Ohne" verlangt (anders als von dirkt behauptet) den Akkusativ, "weitere Zuschauer" ist auch Akkusativ, aber nach "als" folgt dann ein Dativ.
    – Uwe
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 8:25

2 Answers 2


Actually, als is not used as a preposition here, it rather is a conjunction demanded by the comparative in "weitere".

mit mehr Zuschauern als nur dem Einen

Duden lists as example sentence

mit keinem weiteren Menschen als ihm

which is pretty close to your example. It does, hoewver use mit which rules the dative.

ohne weitere Zuschauer als ihm

I am, however, nearly sure the case is wrong here - "als" as a conjunction doesn't rule a specific case, the case should be ruled by the preposition, in this case "ohne" - And this rules the accusative.

In my opinion, the sentence should be

ohne weitere Zuschauer als ihn

Actually, I would have translated the phrase as

... mit keinen weiteren Zuschauern außer ihm und ...

and have avoided the whole shebang and even end up with a more literal translation - after looking at it for a while, I am pretty sure "ohne" and "als" have not been the best choice of words here.


Als when used in a conjunctional phrase always takes the same case as the object it refers to. All four cases are possible:

Ich als der Mann habe das Sagen.
Ich gedenke lieber deiner als seiner.
Ich gebe es lieber dir als ihm.
Ich liebe dich mehr als ihn.

In Standard German, ohne always takes the accusative. However, ohne used to take both the dative and the genitive in former times as discussed e.g. in this question, and you can still see this in "frozen" words like ohnedem. That's why in some dialects or colloquially ohne ihm is still used, even though it's considered wrong in Standard German.

So I assume the translators worked a bit hurriedly, got distracted by the with no ... but ... construction and rendered it somewhat colloquially as ohne ... als ..., and with their brain already switched into colloquial mode then used the dative.

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