This post is on the two words as highlighted in this excerpt from Die zwei Brüder as collected by Brothers Grimm.

Der Goldschmied war klug und listig und wußte wohl, was das für ein Vogel war. Er rief seine Frau und sprach „brat mir den Goldvogel und sorge, daß nichts davon wegkommt; ich habe Lust, ihn ganz allein zu essen.“ Der Vogel war aber kein gewöhnlicher, sondern so wunderbarer Art, daß, wer Herz und Leber von ihm aß, jeden Morgen ein Goldstück unter seinem Kopfkissen fand.


Am I right to think that gewöhnlicher is in the nominative and wunderbarer in the genitive?

That is, should I read the sentence as:

Der Vogel war aber kein gewöhnlicher [Vogel], sondern [ein Vogel] so wunderbarer Art, daß...

  • 8
    Yes, you read the sentence correct.
    – user24850
    Apr 17 '18 at 7:42
  • 2
    But if you change "kein" to "nicht" both adjectives would be genitive.
    – fdb
    Apr 17 '18 at 10:42

I think the nominative gewöhnlicher doesn't need any explanation - It refers to Vogel which is nominative, so all should be clear.

What you see in wunderbarer Art is a construct that is called genitivus qualitatis (genitive of quality). The adjective wunderbar qualifies the substantive Art here, which is in genitive to express a trait of the referred substantive Vogel, like in

Fahrkarte zweiter Klasse

Freude kurzer Dauer

In English, this would be expressed with a preposition + dative, namely "of":

The bird was not a usual one, but rather of such a wonderful kind that whoever ate ...

and German can, alternatively to the above, do the same:

der Vogel war kein gewöhnlicher, sondern von so wunderbarer Art, dass

  • There is no dative in English.
    – RHa
    May 14 '18 at 11:33
  • @RHa methinks there is. At least a tiny bit. Translate to objective case, if you like. Dative mainly refers to the German example.
    – tofro
    May 14 '18 at 19:32
  • Was war er? (Nominativ question): ein gewöhnlicher Vogel (adjective description of the bird)
  • Welcher Art war er? (Genitiv question): wunderbarer Art (which species/kind (German: Art) does it derives from? => derivation is genitive casus)

Yes, you are right.

  • 2
    This "question-based" derivation of cases is pretty useless for non-native speakers. If they don't know how to say it, how should they know how to ask for it?
    – tofro
    May 14 '18 at 9:09

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