Genitive Prepositions in German


Some genitive prepositions are still used, but more and more are replaced by dative constructions. You should already be familiar with the dative case in German before you try to learn the genitive case German. How does one know what to use and when? There are 12 common genitive prepositions.

There are only a few common genitive prepositions in German, including: (an)statt (instead of), außerhalb/innerhalb (outside/inside of), trotz (in spite of), während (during) and wegen (because of). Notice that most of the time the genitive prepositions can be translated with "of" in English. Even während can be rendered as "in the course of," as well as "during."

Other genitive prepositions include: angesichts (in view of), beiderseits (on both sides of), diesseits (this side of), jenseits (on the other side of) and laut (according to). Note that there are ways to bypass some genitive prepositions and use dative ones instead... Let's learn more.

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Take a look at our review of the four German Cases before you start this topic. There are several common genitive prepositions in German that are used with this case, which means that when they appear in the sentence, the noun that follows (and it’s definite, indefinite, possessive article, etc. are in the genitive case. You will also want to review our main German Genitive Case unit to get a full understanding of this case. 

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Anstatt zur Arbeit zu gehen, geht Karl nach Hause.
Instead of going to work, Karl is going home.

Ich bin während der Pause Kaffee holen gegangen. 
I went to pick up coffee during the break.

Trotz der Hitze spielen wir Fussball. /
Despite the heat, we play soccer.

Mein Haus liegt außerhalb der Stadt*. 
My house lies outside (of) the city.

Innerhalb eines Monats* werde ich in die neue Wohnung einziehen. 
Within a month, I will move into the new apartment.

Wegen des Orkans sind wir von der Küste weggefahren. 
Because of the hurricane, we drove away from the coast.

Wohnst du diesseits der Grenze* zwischen Deutschland und Frankreich? 
Do you live on this side of the border between Germany and France?

Bremen liegt unterhalb des Wesers. 
Bremen lies downstream of the Weser River.

Ihre Ville ist oberhalb der Stadt. / Their villa is above the city.

*Some genitive prepositions are often used with the dative case in colloquial German, including statt, wegen, and während.

There are a few other constructions using ‘wegen.’ When adding the possessive adjective + ‘et’ to the beginning of wegen (e.g. deinetwegen, ihretwegen), it translates to “because of” or “for (someone’s) sake,” and can even mean “for all (someone) care(s)” or “as far as (someone) is concerned.”

Meinetwegen könnt ihr ohne mich gehen. 
As far as I am concerned, you can go without me.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.