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Is there a rule when to use von? I know that before countries for example:

Der Präsident von Spanien.

Is it because there is no article before countries? for example Die Schweiz has an article so I would say: Der Präsident der Schweiz.

Before business names (also no article)? Der Schlagzeuger von Coldplay? Der Präsident von Edeka?

Any other examples when to use von and not des/der?

  • "Der Spanische König hieß Juan." oder "Der König Spaniens hieß Juan." oder "Spaniens König hieß Juan." all are correct and interchangeable. – alk Jun 22 '18 at 16:49
  • "Der Schweizer Held heisst Tell." oder "Der Held der Schweiz heisst Tell." are Vorrecht and interchangeable. "Der Schweiz' Held heisst Tell." is just uncommon because of the unpronounceble "z'", else the same as for the others applies. – alk Jun 22 '18 at 16:56
  • Another valid example: "Der Ukraines verlorenener Teil ist die Krim." – alk Jun 22 '18 at 17:01
  • Autocompletion put "Vorrecht" instead of "correct":. Please excuse. – alk Jun 22 '18 at 17:12
  • It's der Ukraine. – RHa Jun 22 '18 at 18:00
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There is no rule to use von. The genitive works with all names, such as von does with the Dative. It's your choice whether you want to use von or the genitive (von is a bit more colloquial, while the genitive might sound posh in places. Using von with a proper name that carries an article, see further down).

der Präsident der Niederlande

der König von Spanien

Spaniens König

Berlins Regierender Bürgermeister

der Schweizer Bundespräsident

der Bundespräsident der Schweiz

Proper names of geographic entities that are used without article typically get an -s appended in the genitive case. When names that are normally used without article carry one, the -s ending is often omitted:

die Zentralbank Europas

vs

die Zentralbank des geeinten Europa(s)

Proper names of geographic locations that only occur in plural, e.g. die Niederlande, die Vereinigten Staaten, always carry an article.

While not wrong, using von with geographical names that carry an article might sound uncommon, or even clumsy - native speakers will avoid this:

der Präsident von den Vereinigten Staaten

der Bundespräsident von der Schweiz

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    Thanks @torfo! Just to be clear: you can't say: Der Präsident der Spanien and you also can't say Der Präsident von Schweiz, so doesn't it show that it has something to do with the articles? so they are not interchangeable. Also I think Die Schweiz is actually femanine not plural – MrsRona Jun 22 '18 at 7:24
  • There are some names that need an article and some that don't, yes. And the genitive looks different in both cases. der Präsident Spaniens, der Präsident der Schweiz. – tofro Jun 22 '18 at 7:26
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    So you can't use the dative version with Schweiz (z.B), that's what I mean. – MrsRona Jun 22 '18 at 7:36
  • Everything depends on the sort of text you are producing. In a colloquial talk over a number of beers with your friends in the pub you may well say "Der Präsident von den Vereinigten Staaten hat sie nimmer alle". It would not be a very well-formed sentence, but still nobody would complain about your language, and probably even nobody would notice the mistake. Contrary to that, in a newspaper article you are obliged to say "der Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten" (i.e. pay attention to well-formed and stylistically appropriate sentences). – Christian Geiselmann Jun 22 '18 at 13:16

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