5

I have to complete the following sentence:

Wir machen die Aufgabe wider unser_ Willen.

I would write 'unsere' (accusative plural), instead in the solution they write 'unseren'?

Why? Is it an error?

  • 1
    The use of unser relates to Willen so unseren Willen is correct. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jun 22 at 7:30
10

You are correct that the accusative case is needed here, however Willen is not plural, it is accusative singular of Wille:

Wir machen die Aufgabe wider unseren Willen.

Now, rules on when to use singular and when to use plural in German are not always clear-cut and they differ from English. In this case however, it is just that Wille is rarely used in plural at all. Indeed I had to look up whether it is even considered to have a plural (it is, according to DWDS).

You could probably try to argue that wider unsere Willen is also correct, but it would just sound so strange that I would have difficulty parsing it. If you said it, I might misunderstand it as wider unsere Villen. Which of course makes no sense. (That is the plural of Villa there.)

  • Thank you, I didn't know that in the accusative some nouns need an ending. – user Jun 22 at 7:50
  • 1
    @user, isn’t German fun? ;) Others could tell you about declension classes now, I can just point you to a dictionary entry with a table: de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wille – Carsten S Jun 22 at 7:59
  • Yes, thanks again :) – user Jun 22 at 8:03
  • 1
    The tricky part is unseren refers to a group so you think Willen must be plural, too. This isn't the case however, neither in German nor English. So they waited for their departure.Also warteten sie auf ihre Abfahrt. – Janka Jun 22 at 9:41
  • @Janka, this is true, but you could then start wondering whether they depart together or individually. However here, even if you think that their will is not collective, in German the plural of Wille is just awkward. – Carsten S Jun 22 at 9:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.