I’ve seen different forms written in articles:

  1. Wegen starken Winden

  2. Wegen starken Windes

  3. Wegen starke Winde

  4. Wegen zu starken

I’m confused honestly. I haven’t fully grasped the concept of Genetiv case yet. Also I heard from people around and also the comments below that Dativ is also used with wegen, but I should try to avoid it in writing or formal speech, right?

Adding the context: I wanted to make a sentence to express, “Due to the strong winds, the gondola is not in service today / Due to the strong winds, the gondola is not running today.”

  • "Wegen starken Winden" would be correct, if "Wind" was countable. In german, it is not (apart from very rare philosophical cases). – PMF Dec 4 '18 at 9:40
  • Here, as so often, a useful answer would need a question where context is given. Where do these strong winds occur, and what do they cause? Are they concrete winds (as atmospheric phonomena), or are they winds in some metaphorical way? – Christian Geiselmann Dec 4 '18 at 10:18
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    @PMF: sorry, but I disagree about the "wind is not countable in German"- theory. Especially in meteorology there for sure is the plural form of "Wind" as "die Winde". When talking about planes e.g. you will often hear "Fallwinde" and in the context of sailing it is also very common usage. Often you then talk about special winds like "der Passat- Wind" or the like, but this is not necessarily true. – Torsten Link Dec 4 '18 at 11:32
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    @TorstenLink Also in medicine, Winde (plural of Wind) is used for certain bodily expressions. This would be another field where the phrase wegen starker Winde could occur. – Christian Geiselmann Dec 4 '18 at 11:44
  • @ChristianGeiselmann: You are absolutely right. That association made me smile... – Torsten Link Dec 4 '18 at 11:48

Wegen is a preposition that commonly takes the Genitive in German. Grammatically correct is thus the following:

  • Wegen starker Winde

  • Wegen starken Windes

There is an exception that allows to use strongly flexed stand-alone substantives without article and attribute in their non-flexed form (thus in nominative):

  • Wegen Wind

(Commonly seen on road-signs, for example)

There is another exception that allows using the dative in case the genitive is not detectable (has the same form as another case) or the sentence already has another attribute in genitive:

  • wegen Geschäften

  • Wegen meiner Eltern neuem Haus (I have yet to hear anybody saying that, but It is correct)

Other usage with the dative is relatively common, but, strictly speaking, wrong or rather colloquial. This is very commonly used and accepted in regions where the local dialect doesn't know the genitive (mainly in the South):

  • wegen dem schlechten Wetter (correct: "wegen schlechten Wetters")
  • wegen meinen schlechten Noten (correct: "wegen meiner schlechten Noten")
  • "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod". My observation seems to imply that "accepted […] mainly in the South" is no longer true. It's now everywhere? – LаngLаngС Dec 4 '18 at 14:06
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    @LangLangC You need to distinguish between the various cases / reasons for genitive, I think. Possessive usage declines in my experience, but the specific case of wegen seems to be strong with genitive, at least in the media. – tofro Dec 4 '18 at 14:09

The words "due to" also have other possible translations into German, not just wegen. Some of these constructs seem to flow easier than those with wegen:

  • aufgrund – starker Winde, starken Windes, (starkem Wind)
  • dank – starker Winde, starkem Wind, starken Windes
  • [bedingt] durch – starke Winde, starken Wind
  • infolge – starken Windes, (starkem Wind), starker winde
  • ob – starken Windes (excellent choice, but antiquated and therefore eyebrow raising)

Expressions in brackets are seen in the wild, and understood broadly, but not really nice style, considered between something like incorrect, awkward, or sometimes just the usual idiosyncrasy (of class, age, region, dialect).

  • I’m aware that there are also other possible ways to express “due to”, I just wanted to focus on wegen. And also I provided the context to make it easier to discuss. But thank you for your answer! I’m still learning German, I’m happy to learn about other expressions! – T. doublenine Dec 4 '18 at 14:28

Wegen allows usage of Dativ and Genitiv cases. Not so long ago usage of Dativ was considered incorrect. It was frowned upon in written language and among more educated people. However, Dativ became so common that the Duden had to accept it as equally valid.

Thus, you can use both Genitiv and Dativ. You may also use both singular and plural.

  • wegen starken Windes (Gen. singular)
  • wegen starker Winde (Gen. plural)
  • wegen starkem Wind (Dat. singular)
  • wegen starken Winden (Dat. plural) [IMHO, this option sounds somewhat strange.]

Note: Duden states that usage with Dativ is umgangssprachlich or in certain cases standardsprachlich. If you use Genitiv in an exam or scientific article, you can still face problems. Which form to use depends on your target audience. The safer choice is Genitiv. On the other hand, in a beer hall speech a politician would try to avoid the Genitiv to demonstrate closeness to the people.

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    That is not entirely correct. The Duden accepts Dativ only in colloquial speech. – IQV Dec 4 '18 at 12:39
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    @IQV yes I agree that the Dativ case for wegen is only used in colloquial speech, my German teacher once mentioned this too. – T. doublenine Dec 4 '18 at 12:56
  • @IQV: You're right that my answer is not generally right. However, it's not only colloquial usage. The Duden states that Dativ is standardsprachlich (!= umgangssprachlich) correct (with some further restrictions). This would probably disqualify its usage in a dissertation, but not in a normal newspaper. – Frank from Frankfurt Dec 4 '18 at 12:57
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    @FrankfromFrankfurt You want to go back to the Duden and read again. Duden states Umgangssprachlich mit Dativ (generally) and standardsprachlich mit Dativ in bestimmten Fällen. – tofro Dec 4 '18 at 13:32
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    If you want to avoid debates about how acceptable wegen plus dative is, use aufgrund, which only allows the genitive. – David Vogt Dec 4 '18 at 13:54

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