Relative clauses

SA23

 

Meaning

 

Relative clauses refer to a noun or a pronoun that exists in the superordinate clause and stand right next to them.

 

 

Form and Function

 

Relative clauses are subordinate attributive clauses that are introduced by a conjunction and contain a finite verb form.

 

Note: relative clauses are introduced by relative pronouns or relative adverbs.

 


 

 

The relative pronoun der, die, das

 

The relative pronoun der, die, das is inflected as follows.

 

 
singular
plural
 
masculine
feminine
neuter
nominative
der
die
das
die
genitive
dessen
deren
dessen
deren
dative
dem
der
dem
denen
accusative
den
die
das
die

 

 

The relative pronoun welcher, welche, welches is more seldom used in the place of the relative pronoun der, die, das, without any semantic change.

 


 

 

The choice of the right type of the relative pronoun der, die, das depends on:

 

 

1. The gender of the reference word

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   der die Prüfung bestanden hat,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   subject = nominative    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Die Studentin,   die die Prüfung bestanden hat,   heißt Lisa.
gender feminine   subject = nominative    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Das Kapitel,   das die Relativitätstheorie behandelt,   ist schwierig.
gender neuter   subject = nominative    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 


 

 

2. The number of the reference word

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   der die Prüfung bestanden hat,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   subject = nominative    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Die Studenten,   die die Prüfung bestanden haben,   sind froh.
gender masculine   subject = nominative    
number plural  
      syntactic function    

 


 

 

3. The syntactic function of the reference word and, consequently, the word that introduces the relative clause. The syntactic function also determines the case.

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   der die Prüfung bestanden hat,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   subject = nominative    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   den ich um Geld gebeten habe,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   accusative object    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   dem ich beim Umzug geholfen habe,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   dative object    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   dessen ich mich erinnere,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   genitive object    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   auf den ich warte,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   prepositional object *    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference ord   relative clause    
  Der Student,   mit dem ich Fußball spiele,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   prepositional adverb *
   
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

  reference word   relative clause    
  Der Student,   dessen Mutter Pilotin ist,   heißt Paul.
gender masculine   genitive attribute    
number singular  
      syntactic function    

 

 

 * Nothing but a preposition can stand before the relative pronoun.