Kann ich Ihnen eine Tasse Kaffee bringen?
Kann ich Ihnen einen Tasse Kaffee bringen?

Which is correct? What to do when two nomen are there? Is Tasse like an adjective?

  • Are you asking about word order, about inflection, or about whether multiple nominals are allowed at all? – Kilian Foth Dec 14 '18 at 7:32
  • 1
    Two nouns: "Tasse Kaffee" is like "cup of coffee". Tasse is not (like) an adjective. You actually bring the cup, i.e. "Ich bring Ihnen eine Tasse (mit) Kaffee". – Rudy Velthuis Dec 14 '18 at 11:15

‘Two nouns’ is a rather broad designator. It can happen in a number of cases:

  • two different objects

    Ich bringe dem Herrn einen Kaffee

  • one object, one noun describing the other (apposition)

    Ich bringe ihm das Gefäß, eine Tasse.

  • a list of things

    Ich bringe ihm einen Kaffee und einen Keks

  • a compound (although a compound is strictly only one noun it can be made up of two individual nouns)

    Ich bringe ihm eine Kaffeetasse

  • your case, in which one noun acts as a measure noun (How much coffee? One cup!)

    Ich bringe ihm eine Tasse Kaffee

  • and probably more.

I assume you are talking specifically about the measure noun case because of your example, and I further assume that your confusion arises because Tasse is feminine while Kaffee is masculine.

A measure noun is the part of the object that is connected closest to the verb. You could leave out the bit that is being measured and still get a valid sentence:

Darf ich Ihnen eine Tasse bringen?

Sometimes, the resulting sentence needs context to be understood, sometimes without context it’s still similar except you expect something slightly different being brought (like an empty cup instead of one full of coffee). Compare for example:

Ich kaufe einen Liter (Milch).

This shows us that whichever grammatical relations there are must be visible between the measure noun and whatever the external bits are. See the following examples:

Eine Handvoll{sing} Süßigkeiten{pl} ist{sing} genug.

Ich habe eine Tasse{fem} Kaffee{masc} bestellt, sie{fem} aber noch nicht erhalten!

Ich trinke eine große{fem} Tasse{fem} Kaffee{masc}.

Thus, it is also apparant that the genus and number of the measure noun determines the genus and number of the corresponding article. It can only be:

Kann ich Ihnen eine Tasse Kaffee bringen?

  • 2
    This answer is worthy of a bigger question! – Philipp Dec 14 '18 at 7:31

The first one is correct.

Kann ich Ihnen eine Tasse Kaffee bringen?

What to do when two nomen are there? Is "Tasse" like Adjektive?

Simply speaking: You do nothing, in such a case Tasse is a nomen and stays it.

Hopefully that answers your question.


As Jan already wrote in his answer, there are different situations when two nouns are used - and in every situation there are different rules.

In your case the word "Tasse" is not used as adjective but as measurement unit.

Whenever a measurement unit is used, the resulting article is the article of the unit, not the article of the good which is measured:

der Liter, das Benzin => der Liter Benzin

das Kilogramm, die Erde => das Kilogramm Erde

die Tasse, der Kaffee => die Tasse Kaffee

Therefore "eine Tasse" is correct.

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