How does standard High German say

on the woman's lap

analogously to

"auf Mutters Schoß"

"auf des Mannes Schoß"

I'm affraid "auf der Frau Schoß" is either obsolete, now, or were not current, ever, and archaic variants I don't know.

What would be an acceptable way, at least historically, to phrase this other than "auf dem Schoß der Frau"?


  1. I'm sure this has been asked before, but if posed around an example sentence, like I did, it will be hard to find

  2. This question has irked me berfore, but it is also motivated by "Muttern" (e.g. Futtern wie bei Muttern), which might merit another question for the derivation, if it's not related to this one here, but Grimm notes

    "nur der hausrede des nördlichen Deutschlands gehört die dat.- und acc.-form muttern an, die in demselben falle gebraucht wird".

    Although it's not clear to me whether "in demselben falle" relates to the preceding example "auf mutters schosz", I read it that way, which does seem to imply "auf Muttern Schoß".

  3. This question is also motivated by a possible Fugenlaut -n as in Maschinenverleih, Flaschenannahme, indeed Fugenlaut, or, if that's the case "Muttern Schoß".

  • I guess that the question reduces to what you wrote in bold type. The rest appears irrelevant. If so, then the answer is "auf der Frau Schoß", which is, as you already figured out, obsolete. – Björn Friedrich Mar 10 at 19:59
  • @BjörnFriedrich the context of the question would require an answer to show why it became obsolete, or how (where, when, whence) it was acceptable. It's there precisely to swart off low effort answers in the likeness of your comment. – vectory Mar 10 at 21:59
  • Anyhow, different variants are possible, so it should correctly ask for "the acceptable ways", but not knowing the answer to that, I can't gauge whether that's too broad, so I'll have to leave it as is and hope for the best. – vectory Mar 10 at 22:02
  • And if I have to unpack the context for you, one implied part of the question is for the grammaticality of "auf [singular] der Frauen Schoß". I can see that it's a bad question, if there can be multiple different correct answers; Or one exhaustive answer. Even asking the right question is rather difficult. – vectory Mar 10 at 22:09
  • @multiplexetliber Oh, my mistake, I don't know why I tend to write "[singular] women". I meant singular. For a second I thought you would refer to "muttern" as an archaic plural form, or whatever competed with "Mütter". – vectory Mar 16 at 15:42

The singular form in genitive case of »die Frau« is »der Frau«. You can look this up in any conjugation table, for example, at Wiktionary. So the correct expression is:

auf der Frau Schoß


Das Buch lag auf des Mannes Schoß. (masculine)
Das Buch lag auf des Kindes Schoß. (neuter)
Das Buch lag auf der Frau Schoß. (feminine)

What is marked bold above is a left genitive attribute inside a dative object, which, in turn, is marked italics (which itself is inside a prepositional object, which is not marked, it is »auf« + the dative object). Of corse, you can use dative objects also without left genitive attributes, but then you have to use another determiner instead:

Das Buch lag auf dem Schoß. (definite article)
Das Buch lag auf einem Schoß. (indefinite article)
Das Buch lag auf ihrem Schoß. (personal pronoun)

But you also can use right genitive attributes in nominal groups, but then you still need a definite article on the left side of the noun:

Das Buch lag auf dem Schoß des Mannes. (definite article + right masculine attribute)
Das Buch lag auf dem Schoß des Kindes. (definite article + right neuter attribute)
Das Buch lag auf dem Schoß der Frau. (definite article + right feminine attribute)

auf Mutters Schoß

This is more complicated, because this is not the normal behaviour of the word »Mutter«, which has no genitive-s. When you look at Wiktionary, you will find:

genitive of die Mutter is der Mutter (without s at the end)

So, here we have an exception. The standard form of »die Mutter« in genitive case is »der Mutter«, for example, when you use it as a genitive object or a right genitive attribute:

Die Kinder standen traurig am Grab und gedachten der Mutter. (genitive object)
Die Kinder standen traurig am Grab der Mutter. (right genitive attribute inside a dative object inside a prepositional object)
(note: am = an dem = preposition + article)

But »Mutter« will get an extra s at the end when used as left genitive attribute, but only if used without an article:

Die Kinder standen traurig an Mutters Grab. (left genitive attribute without article)
Die Kinder standen traurig an der Mutter Grab. (left genitive attribute with article)

This is true for all terms for female family relationships when used as left genitive attribute without its article:

Ich fahre mit dem Auto der Schwester. (right attribute)
Ich fahre mit der Schwester Auto. (left attribute with article)
Ich fahre mit Schwesters Auto. (left attribute without article)

This works also with Tante, Oma, Cousine, Nichte and of course also with Mutter.

Masculine relatives always have an s at the end in genitive case:

Ich fahre mit dem Auto des Vaters. (right attribute)
Ich fahre mit des Vaters Auto. (left attribute with article)
Ich fahre mit Vaters Auto. (left attribute without article)

So, the genitive s is always there when you use terms for masculine relatives, i.e., the s for left genitive attributes without article is not an exception.

About usage:

Left genitive attributes become more and more outdated. They are still correct, but the standard usage is the right genitive attribute:

Ich nehme die Tabletten auf meines Arztes Empfehlung. (correct, but outdated)
Ich nehme die Tabletten auf Empfehlung meines Arztes. (modern standard)

Other questions, not answered here:

  • »Futtern wie bei Muttern«
    You already linked to the right question in your posting, so you already know that this is something completely different (it is a regional dialect).
  • Fugenlaut
    Also epentheses are something completely different. When you search for "Fugenlaut" you will find lots of questions dealing with this topic.
  • Searching "Muttern Sohn" does yield results, so I'm sure the linked comment doesn't tell the whole story (though it's appearing now as "Mutterns", surely a backformation, and for the nominative as well). – vectory Mar 11 at 23:34
  • Saying "der Schwester Auto" without any remark to the oddity and uncommonness, is odd. In contrast, I find Der Sonne letzter Strahl slightly acceptable. The question is, basically, why is it Sonnenstrahl? Sonne is definitely singular--is it? I'm so happy I found that example right now, while. Fugenlaut and Flottenmanagement would be debatable; I'll have to brace myself for opinions about "epentheses" of "Sonn-Strahl"; Given sun's PIE root reconstructions, -n or no -n still seems to be a debatable question. – vectory Mar 11 at 23:42
  • 1
    You can ask as many quastions as you want, but please split them up in separate Postings. Only one question is allowed per posting. Genitiv endings and epentheses are two different topics, therefor you have to ask in two separate postings. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 12 at 6:51
  • 1
    »Saying "der Schwester Auto" without any remark to the oddity and uncommonness, is odd« Didn't you read the section »About usage«? There I clearly said »Left genitive attributes become more and more outdated«. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 12 at 6:54
  • I might have missewd that remark in all the fluff. However, it doesn't say that it were odd, or declining for any other reason, and still leaves me wondering whether it was ever usual. This grammatical quirk, the homophony with the nominative, might be the leading cause for the move to using genitive von constructions von der Frau constructions. That's not off-topic. It's a broad, but self-contained and hence specific enough question, in my mind. The feigned level of incompetence in the title seems to have thrown you off. – vectory Mar 16 at 16:00

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