I see stories starting with "Eines Tages,". Why is it not "Ein Tag"? Is "Eines Tages" a genitive form here? meaning "Of one day"? I am a beginner on German.


Eines Tages does, in fact, mean roughly "of one day," which requires the genitive (not "generative" case). And that because it is a reference to one particular day. The idiomatic English expression is "once upon a time."

You would use "ein(en) Tag" to refer to a "random," or unspecified day. "Ich brauche einen Tag nach Berlin zu fahren." (I need one (random) day to drive to Berlin.)


Eines Tages is a fixed phrase meaning some day or once. It's in genitive but analyzing this further won't help you. You may ask "whose day?" and the answer would be "once". Remember it as a phrase:

Eines Tages habe ich meine Schlüssel verloren.

Some day I lost my keys.

This use of eines Tages is typically introducing stories. Eines Nachts is also possible:

Ich wachte eines Nachts auf und meine Frau war einfach weg.

Some night I woke up and my wife was simply gone.

There is another use of eines Tages which refers to the future instead:

Du wirst mir eines Tages noch dafür danken.

You will be grateful for this some day.

It's uncommon to use eines Nachts that way, it would be understood as word play.

  • Ok but "eines Tages" literally means "of one day" not "one's day", doesn't it? – Chan Kim Sep 26 '17 at 16:20
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    Not in this meaning. I give you an example: "Ich habe die Arbeit eines Tages geschafft." can be translated both into "I have finished the work of one day." and "I (will) have finished the work some day." In speech, stressing eines Tages suggests the first meaning, stressing geschafft the latter. – Janka Sep 26 '17 at 18:15
  • Yes that's what I understand. I'm sorry but what's the infinitiv form of geschafft? I looked it up on the web dictionary but it's not p.p. of schaffen(p.p. = geschaffen) and couldn't find from 'finish' backward. – Chan Kim Sep 27 '17 at 12:10
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    Schaffen has two different past participles with four different meanings: geschaffen haben (to have created), geschaffen sein (to be meant), geschafft haben (to have finished) and geschafft sein (to be exhausted). – Janka Sep 27 '17 at 12:35
  • that's a difficult word and I will remember. Thanks! – Chan Kim Sep 28 '17 at 6:32

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