Relative clauses in German
- Exercise of relative clauses Score -/-
What is a relative clause?
A relative clause is a dependent clause. The finite verb has to be placed in the last position. You will always find a comma in order to separate the relative clause from the main clause. With a relative clause you can give additional information about the main clause.
- Das ist mein Cousin, den ich am Meisten mag. (That is my cousin, that I like the most)
- Lisa, die groß ist, stellt sich in die letzte Reihe. (Lisa, who is tall, is standing in the last row)
Construction and Usage of relative clauses
In order to form a relative clause we need a relative pronoun or a relative adverb. In German, the relative pronoun always has to be in the dependent sentence. Comparing to English to German, the relative pronouns can sometime be left out. Relative pronouns have to be declined according to the case. Relative adverbs don't change their form.
Recap of the declension of relative pronouns
We already discussed the declension of relative pronouns, but here is the most important table.
- Die Spülmaschine, die schon ewig läuft, funktioniert nicht mehr. (The dishwasher, that is running since forever, doesn't work anymore)
- Das Buch, das viele Seiten hat, ist sehr schwer. (The book, that has many pages, is very heavy)
|nominative||der/ welcher||die/ welche||das/ welches||die/ welche|
|accusative||den/ welchen||die/ welche||das/ welches||die/welche|
|dative||dem/ welchem||der/ welcher||dem/ welchem||denen/ welchen|
Sometimes there is a "problem" occurring, if you are using der/die/das as a relative pronoun. The better version is to use welcher.
- Das ist die Flasche, die die richtige Größe hat. (That is the bottle, that has the right size)
- Das ist die Flasche, welche die richtige Größe hat. (That is the bottle, which has the right size)
Relative Adverbs in relative clauses
The relative adverbs often are connected to a entire clause. Therefore, they don't change their form.
- Wir treffen uns an dem Ort, wo wir uns das letzte mal trafen. (We meet at the place, where we met the last time)
- Meine Eltern haben mir immer geholfen, wofür ich sehr dankbar bin. (My parents always helped my, for which I am very grateful)
Different constructions with relative clauses
Relative clauses refer usually to a subject or an object of the previous main clause. Therefore, they are placed right after the subject or object they do describe. The position of the relative clause can be at the end, or in the middle of a sentence.
- Sophia, die in Brasilien war, liebt Portugiesisch. (nominative case, end of the sentence) - (Sophia, who is Brazilian, loves Portuguese)
- Sophia, deren Portugiesisch sehr gut ist, redet gerne. (genitive case, middle of the sentence) - (Sophia, whose Portuguese is very good, likes to talk)
- Das sind die Bücher, mit denen ich gelernt habe. (dative case, end of the sentence) - (Those are the books, with which I learned)
- Die Bücher, die ich schon ewig habe, sind eingestaubt. (accusative case, middle of the sentence) - (The books, that I have since forever, are dusty)
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