Die Hauptstadt von Deutschland / der Schweiz


Português - Brasil

I´m a real starter at German, so I have this doubt. I hope you can help me.

"Die Hauptstadt von Deutschland ist Berlin."

"Die Hauptstadt der Schweiz ist Bern."

Why, in the second sentence, does the author use der, instead of von?
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    In the second sentence the genitive has to be used because "Schweiz" need an article -> "die Schweiz" (nominative, female). In the genitive the article changes to "der".

    Just a few countries demand an article in German beside Switzerland there are "die USA/die Vereinigten Staaten (von Amerika)", "die Niederlande", die "Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate".

    But you can also write the first sentence "Die Hauptstadt von Deutschland ist Berlin." in the genitive case -> "Deutschlands Hauptstadt ist Berlin."


    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello Pernambuco :)

    In German, it's "Deutschland", but "die Schweiz": Some countries (like die Schweiz, der Iran, der Irak...) take an article, while others (like Deutschland, Frankreich, Portugal, Brasilien, Spanien, ... the vast majority of countries) don't.

    If the country name is used in a sentence, it has to be inflected according to the German grammar rules. For countries that do not take an article, this is simple: it stays the same.

    Ich fahre nach Deutschland.
    Ich lebe in Frankreich.
    Das ist die Hauptstadt von Italien.
    Das ist die Hauptstadt von Spanien. (etc. etc. ;))

    For those countries that take the article, the inflection has to be applied. Examples:

    Ich fahre in die Schweiz.
    Ich lebe in der Schweiz.
    Er lebt im Iran.
    Das ist die Hauptstadt des Iran.

    PS: While I was writing my examples, I got really confused about the Genitive case of "der Iran" -- does the country name take an s "des Irans" or not "des Iran"? There are many instances of both versions on the internet; I'm inclined to write it without s. Just a side note -- sometimes we are struggling with our own language ;)
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    Português - Brasil

    Thank you too for your explanation. Your examples, though most clarifying over the use of the article, brought me yet another doubt: when should I use "im" or "in" as a preposition meaning "in" in english?

    "Ich lebe in der Schweiz."
    "Er lebt im Iran."


    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Oh, sorry -- I forgot to mention:

    "der Iran" is masculine (article "der" in the nominative case)
    "die Schweiz" is feminine (article "die" in the nominative case)

    Each gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) has a different declension scheme. That's why the articles are different. All this should be thoroughly explained in your grammar book. :)