Sie wurde bis zur Spitze des eine halbe Meile hohen Roosevelt-Gebäudes gebracht.

Why is this not:

Sie wurde bis zur Spitze des einen halben Meilen hohen Roosevelt-Gebäudes gebracht?

What is the actual case of the phrase, eine halbe Meile? Why is this part of what is an overall genitive phrase not declined in the genitive? What factors rule the declension of this part of the genitive phrase?


3 Answers 3


In noun phrases, the dependants of the noun – that is, determiners and adjectives – agree with it with regard to case and number.

von einem hohen Gebäude
innerhalb eines hohen Gebäudes
für dieses hohe Gebäude

However, adjectives can have dependants of their own; these stand in a relationship to the adjective, not the noun, and therefore do not agree with the latter. Their form is determined by the adjective or by general rules. In the following examples, stolz governs auf plus accusative, ähnlich governs the dative and bewußt governs the genitive.

Der Wirt ist [stolz auf seinen Service].
der [auf seinen Service stolz]e Wirt

Das Instrument ist [dem Dudelsack ähnlich].
ein [dem Dudelsack ähnlich]es Instrument

Die Wissenschaft ist sich [ihrer gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung bewußt].
eine [ihrer gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung bewußt]e Wissenschaft

All of the noun phrases above can occur in any case without the phrase in brackets, which depends on the adjective, changing in any way.

für den [auf seinen Service stolz]en Wirt
der Klang eines [dem Dudelsack ähnlich]en Instruments
mit einer [ihrer gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung bewußt]en Wissenschaft


Eine halbe Meile is accusative, which is the correct case here. Because Meile is feminine, the nominative and accusative forms are the same.

If Meile is replaced by Meter, the accusative form is unambiguous, because Meter is masculine:

Die Mauer ist einen halben Meter hoch.

  • But why should this be declined accusative and not genitive?
    – user44591
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 1:35
  • 2
    There is a specific construction using the accusative for measurement specifications, used only with some very specific adjectives, and it's completely independent of the case of the enclosing noun phrase. Commented May 27, 2022 at 7:40

This is an adverbial accusative. It denotes a spacial or temporal span. It can be replaced by adverbs, in this case e.g. by «sehr» or «ziemlich». You can ask for it with «wie?».

In this particular case, the adverbial accusative specifies the adjective «hohen».

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