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Among others exhibiting similar variations, these sentences appear in DWDS:

Um eine echte Atmosphäre aus Partikeln und Gas festzuhalten, ist Merkurs Schwerkraft einfach zu schwach.

"Wir nehmen die gesamte Sonnenscheibe auf, dadurch ist das Signal der Exosphäre Merkurs winzig.

In the first case the genitive of the proper name appears before that which it possesses, and in the second it appears after, both without an article.

Now, I was taught that, if the genitive appears after that which it possesses, it is preceded by an article, usually a definite one, or a properly declined adjective. But these examples suggest that there are actually 4 options. The genitive may be before or after, and with or without an article in either. Are these the options or are there rules of which I am unaware that would restrict the choice of options?

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    "In the first case the genitive of the proper name appears before that which it possesses, and in the second it appears after, both without an article." - note that in the second case, there is an article for the possessed thing. This may be tangential here, but makes a difference in cases where you want to use an indefinite article, which is only possible with the second construction (in the first construction, the definite article is somehow implied). Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 22:18
  • @user44591 I'm struggling to find a contradiction. Your quote reads if the genitive appears ..., and this makes no claim concerning other scenarios, especially not, that no other scenarios exist.
    – guidot
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 7:19
  • @guidot: I am wondering what all the possibilities are and if all possibilities apply equally (can be chosen arbitrarily) in all contexts. Can one choose to put the proper name before or after, with or without an article?
    – user44591
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 7:42

1 Answer 1

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We have two different issues here:

  1. Planet names are typically used without an article, same as person names. There is a question covering that aspect here.
  2. Both possibilities are valid: Merkurs Schwerkraft and die Schwerkraft Merkurs. While an article could be added to the first variant as well, this would apply to Schwerkraft, which is the main object and just refined by the genitive. So more modifications become necessary to make this clear, e. g. converting Merkur to an adjective, like die merkurische Schwerkraft (a legally formed, but exotic phrase; for Earth the adjective irdisch is much more common.

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