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I am learning genitive case. I got this sentence from an online worksheet.

Ich möchte nicht, dass d__ Leute in mein_ Wohnung sehen können.

What I learnt for finding the genitive is to ask whom. Here I asked whom and found the answer Leute, so I put the article as den (as Leute is plural). But the answer given by site is:

Ich möchte nicht, dass die Leute in meine Wohnung sehen können.

What is the mistake in my logic?

  • You're not asking for the genitive by whom. You should use whose. – tofro Oct 23 '17 at 9:11
  • @tofro so shouldn't it be die Leute in meiner Whonung...? whose gives Whonung? – InQusitive Oct 23 '17 at 9:14
  • No. whose gives "meine" – tofro Oct 23 '17 at 9:14
  • Sorry, but still it is meiner right? – InQusitive Oct 23 '17 at 9:15
  • nope. It's meine. – tofro Oct 23 '17 at 9:23
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You seem to be confused by the main clause and the sub-clause in your example. Rip this apart before you start to analyse cases.

Your main clause is simple:

Ich möchte nicht.

And your sub-clause, re-formed into a main clause:

Die Leute können in meine Wohnung sehen.

So the subject of your sub-clause is "Leute", which clearly has to be nominative, so "die Leute". Now, what's with the flat: That's mine, so genitive? No. It's "in meine Wohnung", and "in" is a preposition that rules the clause here. "In" can either rule dative or accusative, here it's denoting a motion (of the view) towards something, so accusative.

Put everything back together:

Ich möchte nicht, dass die Leute in meine Wohnung sehen können.

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You are actually making a series of mistakes here:

  • The German genitive case mostly corresponds to the English genitive case, which in turn answers to whose (not whom). Note that this does not always hold.

  • If you are asking for people with whom in English, you are using a different sentence construction, I suppose:

    I do not want people to look into my flat.

    Here, people is indeed in the oblique case and you would ask for it with whom. However, the English sentence that most closely reflects the grammatical structure of the German sentence is:

    I do not want that (the) people can look into my flat.

    Here people is in the substantive case and you would ask for it with who. The same applies in German: Leute is the subject of a subordinate clause and hence in the nominative case. This subordinate clause transforms into a main clause as follows:

    Die Leute können in meine Wohnung sehen.
    (People can look into my flat.)

  • Also, the genitive of die Leute is der Leute. Den is the article for the dative case, which is den Leuten.

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