Grammatik
 

Exercises  

Relative pronouns

Usage

Relative pronouns (which, that, who) reflect the gender (masc., neut., fem.) and number (sing., plural) of the antecedent (i.e. the thing being modified). Unlike in English, the relative pronoun cannot be omitted in German.
 
Die Frau, die dort steht, ist meine Lehrerin. The woman who is standing there is my teacher.
Ist das der Junge, den du gestern gesehen hast? Is that the boy you saw yesterday?

Wer war der Mann, dem du von deiner Reise erzählt hast?

Who was the man you told about your trip?

Forms

The most common relative pronouns are der, das, die and the plural die. They are identical to German definite articles. The only exceptions are the plural of the dative and the singular and plural of the genitive.

 

Masculine

Neuter

Feminine

Plural

Nom.

..., der

..., das

..., die

..., die

Acc.

..., den

..., das

..., die

..., die

Dat.

..., dem

..., dem

..., der

..., denen

Gen.

...,dessen

..., dessen

..., deren

..., deren

 
Points to remember about relative pronouns:
 

1.

A relative clause is a dependent clause: the finite verb goes at the end.

Kennst du den Mann, der dort drüben steht.

Ist das dein Zug, der gerade abfährt?

2.

The relative pronoun does not necessarily come straight after the antecedent. Other modifiers may occur in between:

Wo liegt das Buch von meiner  Freundin Vera, das ich dir geben wollte?

3.

A relative pronoun that is part of a prepositional phrase must stay with the preposition:

Da kommt endlich der Brief, auf den ich lange gewartet habe.

4.

Unlike with definite articles, the preposition and relative pronoun are always two separate words.

Das ist das Haus, in dem wir vor 10 Jahren wohnten.

- Wir haben damals im (definite article + preposition) 2. Stock gewohnt.


N.B.!

The adverb wo (where) can be used instead of a preposition and relative pronoun:

 

Das ist das Haus, in dem / wo wir vor 10 Jahren gewohnt haben.

This is the house where we lived 10 years ago.

 

Use the adverb wo when the antecedent is a neuter, article-less country or place name:
 

In Hamburg, wo es so oft regnet, möchte ich nicht wohnen.

I wouldn’t like to live in Hamburg, where it’s always raining.

You can also use the in + relative pronoun structure in reference to countries and place names that are not neuter in gender:

Wir fahren in die Schweiz, wo / in der wir gute Freunde haben.

We are travelling to Switzerland, where we have good friends.


Wo
can also be used in reference to time (when, during which time):
 

In den letzten Jahren, wo es uns gut ging, haben wir viel Geld sparen können.

Over the past few years, during which time we have done well, we have managed to save a lot of money.

Wer translates as whoever or those who:

Wer nicht mitkommen will, muss hier bleiben.

Whoever does not wish to come can stay here.

Was occurring as a relative pronoun is used in the sense of what, that which.

Was gestern passierte, kam völlig überraschend. What happened yesterday came as a complete surprise.

The pronoun was additionally refers to:

a neuter pronoun
(alles, everything; das, it; etwas, something;  nichts, nothing; vieles, much):

Ich habe dir schon alles gesagt, was ich weiß.

I have already told you everything I know.

a neuter, adjective-derived noun, usually in the superlative:

Das Beste, was ich kenne, ist Finnland im Sommer.

The best thing I know is Finland in the summer.

or a whole clause:

Alle Freunde sind zur Party gekommen, was mich besonders gefreut hat.

All my friends came to the party, which made me especially happy.

 

 21-10-2006