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I've been studying a translation of a german song (80 Milionen by Max Giesinger), and there's this verse:

Hier war das Ufer unserer Begegnung,

The translation would be something like, "Here was the shore of our meeting", right? But in this case, the preposition 'of' would be omitted in 'our meeting'? And it's normal to happen this?

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    Also, in addition to the response already given, do note that you can never just "ommit" the "von". Rather, possessive genitive phrases can sometimes be expressed using a prepositional phrase led by "von." However, this gives rise to a different sentence structure; it is not just an omission. E.g., the nominal phrase following "von" takes the dative case: "Das Auto meines Bruders"/"Das Auto von meinem Bruder"). – johnl Dec 29 '17 at 8:14
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Hier war das Ufer unserer Begegnung

Unserer Begegnung is a genitive supplement to das Ufer. It's the standard way to describe features of things.

In contrary

Hier war das Ufer von unserer Begegnung

is considered really bad German. It's understood but you show bad command of the language if you talk like this. It may be used for effect.


Please don't confuse it with prepositional objects led by von. Some verbs have these. In the following example, you have both the prepositional object and a genitive supplement to that object:

Sie erzählt von der Reise der Tochter.

She tells about the journey of the daughter.

See how der Tochter has no preposition in front of it. In better English, you would write

She tells about the daughter's journey.

So daughter's is genitive in English, too. German extends this to things.

Hier war das Ufer unserer Begegnung.

Here was our encounter's shore.

May be valid as poetical English?

  • Do you use Genitiv in spoken language? I have heard at least from 3 different teachers (all of them native speakers) that using Genitiv in spoken language is a bad tone. – tillias Dec 29 '17 at 16:01
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    @tillias: Das hängt vom Zusammenhang und Satzbau ab. Häufig klingen Sätze mit Genitiv-S etwas veraltet. (Er verschleuderte seines Vaters Geld. vs. Er verschleuderte das Geld seines Vaters., während umgangssprachlich eher Er verschleuderte das Geld von seinem Vater. verwendet wird.) Die Konstruktion des Beispielsatzes ist aber durchaus gebräuchlich, z. B. Hier liegt das Geld unserer Eltern.) Ich würde des Genitivs im Deutschen jedenfalls nicht missen wollen. – clemens Dec 29 '17 at 18:15
  • @tillias: you must have misunderstood all three. Using genitive replacements as von+dative may be required by a dialect in certain phrases, but as a foreign speaker, you shouldn't learn nor speak a specific dialect. For example north-western dialects prefer Hie wa det Ufa von unsre Bejeinun but northern dialects prefer Hie wa det Ufa wo wi uns bejeinet sin. – Janka Dec 30 '17 at 2:35
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    Genitive in spoken language is certainly not bad tone. In some circumstances it may come across as formal or slightly antiquated, but mostly it's the other way around: using von + dative instead of a genitive is considered colloquial and often taken as a sign of insufficient command of the German language. – Tilman Schmidt Dec 31 '17 at 14:38
  • @Janka why not? I think everyone should learn whatever dialect they prefer. – neptun Feb 26 '18 at 13:39
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The misconception you have fallen victim to is that there should be a 1:1 mapping between the German and English parts of a sentence. That is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true more often: that the idiomatic way to express something is completely different in the other language.

For example, English makes frequent use of gerunds and particles. German on the other hand will typically prefer a subordinate clause. For example:

We proceeded to the next stage knowing that we were prepared to tackle it.

Wir sind ins nächste Level gegangen, weil wir gewusst haben, dass wir ausreichend vorbereitet waren.

In the example you present, it is more common in English to use an of-genitive to express the connection between the shore and the meeting. In German, using a simple genitive case is the better choice stylistically. Note that it is not a dative (which would be required in the case of von) as can be seen with a neuter or masculine noun:

Hier war das Ufer unseres Treffens.

Thus, von was not omitted but rather never there in the first place.

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