In an effort to translate this sentence, from I, Robot, by I. Asimov:

Gloria’s mother, however, was a source of uneasiness to Robbie

and researching the use of the word "Unbehagen", I found these sentences using it in DWDS:

Auch bei Fiat zeigten sich Symptome wachsenden Unbehagens gegen die hemmungslosen Klassenkampfparolen und die wirtschaftliche Selbstzerstörung.

Diese Ausgangszielfigur, im schlichtesten Falle die Äußerung dumpfen Unbehagens, läßt noch jeden Zielerreichungsgrad offen.

These sentences appear to use Unbehagen with the genetive case, but they are missing the necessary associated article, des or eines. How can this be correct? Is the article simply elided? If so, can I translate my sentence as,

Glorias Mutter war jedoch eine Quelle Unbehagens für Robbie.?

And when is such eliding correct to use?

  • I added the articles tag, since I guess the question is not about Unbehagen as the title would suggest, but about whether or not and if so which article is required.
    – guidot
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:52

2 Answers 2


There is no logical reason for an article here, as “Unbehagen” is used as an uncountable noun. It is true that genitive of a “naked” noun without an article is often avoided because it does not parse well, as the genitive is not marked clearly. However, this problem does not exist when there is an accompanying adjective, as that is declined according to the case.

  • 2
    Having read the answer, I don't understand whether eine Quelle Unbehagens is judged acceptable or not.
    – David Vogt
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:12
  • @DavidVogt, that’s a very good point, I missed the question. I should add this, but I am not completely sure. I would avoid it.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 1, 2022 at 13:12

You should say "eine Quelle des Unbehagens" or "ein Quell des Unbehagens". Here are some examples. If you use a genitive, then you normally also need an article. However, as Carsten S said in his answer, it is usually better to omit the article if the noun is uncountable and qualified by an adjective.

Some examples:

  1. Countable nouns
  • Das Auto des Mannes. NEVER: Das Auto Mannes.

  • Das Auto des jungen Mannes. NEVER: Das Auto jungen Mannes.

  1. Uncountable nouns
  • Ein Zeichen der Entrüstung. NEVER: Ein Zeichen Entrüstung.
  • Ein Zeichen großer Entrüstung. ALSO: Ein Zeichen der großen Entrüstung.
  • "Des Mannes Auto" is also correct Jan 31, 2022 at 21:44
  • 1
    Unfortunately, your explanation does not correspond to the usage cited above from DWDS, in which the adjective is declined like a qualifying adjective and not like an article.
    – user44591
    Jan 31, 2022 at 21:58
  • 1
    @user44591 The problem disappears if you substitute a masculine or neuter noun in the second set of examples (des Ärgers, großen Ärgers).
    – David Vogt
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:11
  • @user44591 I had a typo in my answer, I hope it is better now.
    – Paul Frost
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:21

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