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Here is my question. I've tried reading other threads, but I couldn't find an answer. I have to translate this sentence:

with her typical beauty and kindness

  1. mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und Freundlichkeit = ihrer and üblichen are in the feminine singular (Dativ) because of the following noun
  2. mit ihren üblichen Schönheit und Freundlichkeit = ihren and üblichen are in the plural because they refer to two nouns

Which of the alternative is correct?

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    the first is correct – choXer Nov 28 '20 at 11:41
  • @c.p. oh, you're right. stupid mistake :/ – choXer Nov 28 '20 at 12:03
  • The English is ambiguous, isn't it? We don't know if the kindness is typical. In other words it could be rephrased as "with her typical beauty and her typical kindness" or "with her typical beauty and her kindness". I'm not sure if that makes a difference for the translation. – RDBury Nov 28 '20 at 12:34
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Your second alternative doesn't work in German unfortunately, although it would seem logical. The attributes have to be congruent with the nearest noun.

So it has to be

mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und Freundlichkeit

and, like in the English version, it's a bit ambiguous if "ihrer üblichen" only refers to "Schönheit" or to both "Schönheit und Freundlichkeit".

If you want to make the attribute truly unambiguously refer to both nouns you're losing elegance. Two possible ways to do that would be:

mit ihren üblichen Qualitäten Schönheit und Freundlichkeit
mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und ihrer üblichen Freundlichkeit

If you'd want to have "üblichen" refer to "Schönheit" only, you could do that by repeating the article or, in this case, the personal pronoun that replaces the article:

mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und ihrer Freundlichkeit

If the two qualities had different grammatical genders, e.g. if you'd like to use "Schönheit (fem.) und Charme (masc.)", you would more or less be forced to use one of the more inelegant ways to put it:

mit ihren üblichen Qualitäten Schönheit und Charme
mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und ihrem üblichen Charme

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    Mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und ihrer Freundlichkeit would also make clear, that üblich relates to Schönheit only. – guidot Nov 28 '20 at 22:11
  • @guidot: thank you, I added that to the answer. – HalvarF Nov 28 '20 at 23:29
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Only 1. is correct.

The reason is that the possessive (ihrer) is an Artikelwort, which means that is behaves like an article. Because of this, it takes the strong ending (-er in feminine singular dative) whereas the following adjectie takes the weak ending (-en).

Compare:

Mit ihrer üblichen Schönheit und Freundlichkeit.

Mit der üblichen Schönheit und Freundlichkeit.

The adjective is singular because it must match the following noun. The fact that there are two nouns has no influence.

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    I think you have missed the point, which is: singular or plural? – TonyK Nov 28 '20 at 20:41
  • I see. I exended the answer. – RHa Nov 28 '20 at 21:35
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You are asking whether it is possible to use "one adjective with two singular nouns (same gender)". In the early stage of New High German it was even possible to use one adjective with two singular nouns of different genders. Thus in Luther's famous hymn:

Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, ein' gute Wehr und Waffen

where Wehr is feminine singular and Waffen is (in early NHG) neuter singular (later reinterpreted as the plural of the feminine noun Waffe). In either case, "ein(e) gute…" agrees only with Wehr, not with Waffen.

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  • Basically everything went downhill with Hochdeutsch after Luther ... :-) – HalvarF Nov 29 '20 at 18:06

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