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I was trying to figure out why "Der Krieg verläuft zu unseren Gunsten" had 'unser' declined in that way, but the form dict.cc gave me was 'zu jds. Gunsten' (https://www.dict.cc/?s=gunsten) and gave as examples 'zu meinen Gunsten', 'zu Ihren Gunsten', etc. This is a bit confusing to me, since I thought 'jemandes' was a Genitiv pronoun. Does this mean in general that, if I see 'jemandes' in a dictionary, it can be substituted, not only by a Genitiv pronoun, but also by meinen/deinen/seinen/unseren/euren/ihren (which aren't declined in the genitive case)?

Thank you very much!

1 Answer 1

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TLDR

The indefinite pronoun "jemand" is declined like a noun or name, and in "zu jemandes Gunsten" it must be genitive to express possesion.
In contrast to this, a possessive pronoun like "mein" is declined in the same case as the corresponding noun, so in "zu meinen Gunsten", both "meinen" and "Gunsten" must be dative as required by the preposition "zu".

Examples:

  • zu jemandes Gunsten
  • zu Antons Gunsten

vs

  • zu seinen Gunsten

Longer explanation

"jemand" is an indefinite pronoun (Indefinitpronomen). It replaces an unknown person and is declined as if it was a person or a noun.

In the phrase

zu jemandes Gunsten

"jemandes" is genitive to express to whom the advantage/favour (Gunsten) belongs.

It is the same as if you would name a specific person

zu des Kunden Gunsten

(= to the customer's favour)

In this case "des Kunden" is genitive to express the ownership/possession.

In both examples "Gunsten" is dative case as required by the preposition "zu".


In contrast to "jemandes" as an indefinite pronoun, "mein", "dein" etc are possessive pronouns (Possessivpronomen). These will always express an ownership regardless of their grammatical case, and they are declined corresponding to the noun.

In

zu meinen Gunsten

the preposition "zu" requires the dative case, so both words in "meinen Gunsten" is dative.


It is difficult to show the different declension with the example "Gunsten" because the plural of "Gunst" is outdated, except in "zu jemandes Gunsten" or similar as a fixed phrase.

It is easier to do this with "jemandes" and a different noun.

Examples:

Jemandes Haus ist groß. (nominative case)
Ich erinnere mich jemandes Hauses. (genitive case)
Ich nähere mich jemandes Haus. (dative case)
Ich sehe jemandes Haus. (accusative case)

"jemandes" is always genitive case.

The same declension with a specific person:

Des Nachbarn Haus ist groß. (nominative case)
Ich erinnere mich des Nachbarn Hauses. (genitive case)
etc.

And the declension of the possessive pronoun:

Sein Haus ist groß. (nominative case)
Ich erinnere mich seines Hauses. (genitive case)
Ich nähere mich seinem Haus. (dative case)
Ich sehe sein Haus. (accusative case)

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  • This post was excessively helpful, especially regarding the way jemandes functions. Thank you very much!
    – shintuku
    Dec 21, 2021 at 19:13
  • Good answer; its length, however somehow suggests a short summarized pre- or post-amble - often those are marked with TLDR on stack exchange. Es regnet auf Gerhards Auto vs. Es regnet auf sein Auto seems to provide all essentials required for explanation.
    – guidot
    Dec 21, 2021 at 22:48
  • DWDS shows the frequency of Gunst as a respectable 4/7, so I don't think it's in danger of disappearing any time soon. DWDS also lists it as singular only, except in the expression zu jmds. Gunsten. Dictionaries don't always explain everything; you're just supposed to "know" that jmds. means genitive "except" when it's replaced by a personal pronoun, in which case use a possessive pronoun. I'm not sure if that's a rule all the time or if different expressions use different logic.
    – RDBury
    Dec 21, 2021 at 22:55

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