Given the phrases that are in standard German, vg.:

Das Auto des Mannes.

Die Kirche des Gottes.

Could we use the following alternative word order?:

Das Mannes Auto.

Die Gottes Kirche.


3 Answers 3


The alternative word order exists, but you must keep the articles in genitive case:

Das Auto des Mannes = Des Mannes Auto.
Die Kirche des Gottes = Des Gottes Kirche.

I should add, that the form »das Auto des Mannes« is way more often used than »des Mannes Auto«. Later sounds old fashioned and is almost extinct. But it still is correct German. You better shouldn't use it actively, but it's good to know what it means when you hear or read it.

  • 1
    It gets a little more compilicated with female genitives, IMO. E.g. das Auto der Frau = der Frau Auto. It is correct, but sounds pretty weird to me. Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 19:32
  • 1
    "but you must keep the articles in genitive case" - I think this answer should be a bit more explicit here: It's not simple "the articles" in genetive case; more precisely, it's "the articles of the owner" that are used here. Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 16:05

Yes, you can say

des Mannes Auto

but not

die Gottes Kirche


des Gottes Kirche

although that would mean the god's church i.e. the church of the god, not God's church.

Note that these second versions sound a little bit stilted, literary. You would probably not use them in normal day speech, nor in normal writing, except in some known expressions and sayings.


Yes, you can put the genitive part in front of the noun, however it then replaces the definite article. So it is

des Mannes Auto

and the article "des" belongs to "Mannes" while the whole part "des Mannes" determines "Auto".

In the same way

des Gottes Kirche.

Note that when referring to the Christian god in a Christian cultural context, "Gott" is usually not used with an article but more like a name, so in that case it would be

Gottes Kirche


die Kirche Gottes.

  • Note that the OP did not suggest "des Mannes Auto", but "das Mannes Auto". Which I presume is not a typo, but actually a relevant error that requires explanation in the answer. Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 16:06
  • @O.R.Mapper, I thought that my first two sentences addresses this, but apparently not directly enough.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 16:34

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