3

Guten Tag,

kurze Frage:

Ich freue mich auf Ihren Unterricht.

"Ihren Unterricht" steht im Akkusativ. Wenn ich jedoch mit Genitiv frage

Wessen Unterricht? - Ihren Unterricht

geht das auch? Welcher Fall ist das nun?

Vielen Dank!

So my question is: 'Ihren Unterricht' is the accusative case, however it appears that one could ask with the genitive question 'wessen Unterricht' and the answer would be 'Ihren Unterricht'.

I'm really confused by that.

  • See meaning 3 in Wiktionary. A lot of these grammatical rules of thumb have many exceptions, especially when it comes to common expressions. In other words some expressions and idioms just require a certain grammatical case whether or not it follows the usual pattern. The preposition auf can take either accusative or dative, and normally accusative is only used when there is movement involved. This happens to be one of the reasons you have to use "normally". – RDBury Sep 18 at 3:58
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    PS. Don't confuse genitive case with possessive pronouns. You might say Ich freue mich auf den Unterricht des Lehrers. where des Lehrers takes the genitive case, but with a possessive pronoun the possessive part is baked in, so you don't need genitive case to tell who's lessons you're talking about. – RDBury Sep 18 at 4:20
  • RDBury's second comment is the correct and succinct answer to this question."Ihren Unterricht" is the accusative object, which has the part "Ihren", a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns replace a noun, that would need to be be in genitive, without being in genitive themselves. It's baked into them that they are an answer to "wessen?". – HalvarF Oct 2 at 16:30
2

Wessen Unterricht?

is not a whole sentence and therefore not a valid question. Valid questions (with their answers) are:

  • Ask for the subject

    Wer freut sich auf den Unterricht?
    Ich freue mich auf Ihren Unterricht.

  • Ask for the predicate

    Was mache ich?
    predicate in a narrower sense: Ich freue mich.
    predicate in a wider sense: Ich freue mich auf Ihren Unterricht.

    When you talk about predicates in English grammar, by default you mean the predicate in a wider sense (everything except the subject). In German grammar you by default mean the predicate in a narrower sense: Only the verb(s) and parts of speech that directly modify the verb(s).

  • Ask for the prepositional object

    Worauf freue ich mich?
    Ich freue mich auf Ihren Unterricht.

  • Ask for the nominal group in accusative case that is contained inside the prepositional object

    Auf wen oder was freue ich mich?
    Ich freue mich auf Ihren Unterricht.

Here already you can see, that »Ihren Unterricht« is not an accusative object, because when you ask for an object, you don't need a preposition in your question:

  • accusative object

    Wen oder was sehe ich?
    Ich sehe den Baum.

  • nominal group in accusative case that is contained inside a prepositional object

    An wen oder was denke ich?
    Ich denke an den Baum.


Genitive case comes in two flavors:

  • Genitive objects (which are rare)

    Wessen gedenken wir?
    Wir gedenken der Toten.

    Wessen wird dieser Mann verdächtigt?
    Dieser Mann wird des Mordes verdächtigt.

    Here »der Toten« and »des Mordes« are both supplements to the verb, and the verb dictates in which grammatical case those supplements have to be used.

  • Genitive attributes within nominal groups

    Wessen Kleid hängt in Schrank?
    Das Kleid meiner Frau hängt im Schrank. (modern version)
    Meiner Frau Kleid hängt im Schrank. (old but still correct version)

    Wessen Wagen hat Martin gestohlen?
    Martin hat den Wagen meines Bruders gestohlen. (modern version)
    Martin hat meines Bruders Wagen gestohlen. (old but still correct version)

    (You actively better shouldn't use the old versions, but you should be able to understand them when you hear or read them.)

    Neither »meiner Frau« nor »meines Bruders« is a supplement to the verb. Supplements are »Das Kleid meiner Frau« (which is a subject and therefor as integral part of speech in nominative case) and »den Wagen meines Bruders« (which is an accusative object). Both supplements are containers that contain the core of the supplement (»das Kleid« and »den Wagen«), and this core has always the same grammatical case as the whole container.

    But very often such a supplement also contains a determiner, and, like here, this determiner is very often a genitive attribute (»meiner Frau«, »meines Bruders«) and you also could have a genitive attribute in your sentence:

    Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht.

    • prepositional object

      Worauf freue ich mich?
      Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht.

    • nominal group in accusative case that is contained inside a prepositional object

      Auf wen oder was freue ich mich?
      Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht.

    • Genitive attribute that is contained inside a nominal group in accusative case that is contained inside a prepositional object

      Auf wessen Unterricht freue ich mich?
      Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht.

But genitive objects carry something like an ownership information: In who's "possession" are the lessons? But the same kind of information also can be carries with possessive pronouns:

Meiner Frau Kleid hängt im Schrank.
Ihr Kleid hängt im Schrank.

Martin hat meines Bruders Wagen gestohlen.
Martin hat seinen Wagen gestohlen.

Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht.
Ich freue mich auf seinen Unterricht.

So, you still can ask for a part of speech that fits into the place that is occupied by the possessive pronoun with wessen, because the answer might be a genitive attribute. And it is not wrong to answer to a wessen question with a possessive pronoun

Wessen Ball ist das?
Das ist mein Ball.

But this doesn't mean, that this pronoun is in genitive case.

Even more: It never means, that the core of the nominal group who's determiner this pronoun (or genitive attribute) is (here: mein Ball), would be in genitive case (here mein Ball is in nominative case). In all examples I've shown above is this core in another case.

And it is very clear, why, although you asked »wessen?«, the part »mein Ball« don't have to be in genitive case, because »mein Ball« is not the answer to »Wessen Ball ist das

And when you ask

Auf wessen Unterricht freue ich mich?

Then the word »Unterricht« already is part of the question and therefor can't be what you are asking for. You just ask for the determiner that gives you some information about »Unterricht«, and this determiner could be a genitive object (»des Professors«), but also a possessive pronoun.


Another difference between genitive objects and possessive pronouns is, that pronouns can be used in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person (mein Ball, dein Ball, sein Ball), while genitive attribute only can be used in 3rd person.

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    "Ich freue mich auf des Professors Unterricht." I think this structure might be a bit confusing to OP and the explanation seems irrelevant to the question. Also, it's antiquated. – NXP5Z Sep 18 at 22:23
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    @NXP5Z Indeed, "Ich freue mich auf den Unterricht des Professors" might even help understanding how these are different parts of speech / things to be asked for in different ways – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 19 at 8:11
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Wessen Unterricht? is like English "Whose lesson?", and is most certainly a question when used in context (i.e. it is elliptical, because the sense is understood even if it's not stated).

wer, wen, wem, wessen

who, whom, (to/for) whom, whose

Consider the English sentences:

  1. [Possessive adjective; 'objective case']

"I'm looking forward to your lesson." - "Whose lesson?" - "Your lesson."

  1. [Genitive personal pronoun]

"I'm looking forward to your lesson." - "Whose lesson?" - "Yours"

Answer 2 is technically more correct than 1, because "yours" represents an appropriate substitution relative to the question; but 1 is fine as an answer as well, because usage generally trumps grammar. But in both 1 and 2, regardless of the answer, "Whose lesson?" which uses the genitive "whose" is an appropriate question. If you can appreciate what's going on in these English sentences, you should be able to make sense of the German ones.

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