Relative Clauses in GermanThe formation of “Relativsätze” explained in English, Relative pronouns “deren” and “dessen”. Relative clauses are for adding information about a noun.
Du bist der Mann, den ich liebe You are the man that I loveYou should have the following in mind about relative clauses in German: – the conjugated verb is placed at the end of the relative clause. – sometimes a comma is placed in front of the relative pronoun.
Relative PronounsRelative pronouns are shown in this table:
Relative Pronoun GenderThe relative pronoun gender is defined by the gender of the noun that it complements. An example:
Die Frau, die das Auto hat, ist reich The woman that has the car is richAs you see in the previous example, “Frau” is a feminine noun so the relative pronoun that follows it has to be feminine as well (die).
Types of Relative ClausesRelative clauses can be nominative, accusative, dative or genitive. Let’s look at them all in detail because this is very important:
NominativeThe relative pronoun acts as a subject and the conjugated verb is placed at the end of the relative clause. Remember: the verb has to be conjugated in association with the relative pronoun (make sure if it is singular or plural).
Das Kind, das dort spielt, wohnt in der Schweiz The child that is playing there lives in Switzerland
Die Kinder, die dort spielen, wohnen in der Schweiz The children that are playing there live in Switzerland
AccusativeWhen the relative pronoun is accusative, the pronoun is placed in the first position and therefore the subject is moved to the second position and, as always, the conjugated verb goes to the end of the relative clause:
Der Roman, den ich lesen will, ist “El Quijote” The novel that I want to read is “El Quijote”
Das Buch, das ich lesen will, ist “El Quijote” The book that I want to read is “El Quijote”
DativeThe dative and accusative work the same with the exception of the relative pronoun. This time, however, we’ve provided you with an example that is a bit more difficult. Notice that the relative pronoun might be accompanied by a preposition as well:
Der Kunde, mit dem ich gerade gesprochen habe, ist Deutscher The client that I just spoke to is German (most likely a male customer but not definitively)
Die Kundin, mit der ich gerade gesprochen habe, ist Deutsche The (female) client that I just spoke to is German
GenitiveThe relative pronouns “deren” and “dessen” are translated as “whose”, its or their:
Die Nachbarin, deren Kind in meiner Klasse war, ist krank The neighbor whose child was in my class is sick
Der Nachbar, dessen Kind in meiner Klasse war, ist krank The neighbor whose child was in my class is sick]]>