Introduction to relative pronouns in German

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Introduction to relative pronouns

Relative pronouns such as der, die and das (equivalent to "that" or "who" in English) replace or refer back to a noun that was previously mentioned.

Das ist die Frau. Die Frau hat acht Katzen. → Das ist die Frau, die acht Katzen hat.

That's the woman. The woman has eight cats. That's the woman who has eight cats.

Relative pronouns Relativpronomen agree with the noun they refer to in gender and number.

Die Schauspielerin, die begabt ist. (feminin)

The actress who is gifted.

Der Mann, der Schlagzeug spielt. (maskulin)

The man who plays drums.

Das Auto, das kaputt ist. (neutrum)

The car that is broken.

Die Städte, die ich sehen möchte. (Plural)

The cities that I would like to see.

Note: the relative pronoun must be in the correct case for its function in the second half of the sentence. For example, if it is the object of a verb, or comes after a preposition, it needs to be in the accusative Akkusativ or dative Dativ accordingly.

Der Kunde, dem Sie Tee bringen. Relativpronomen (dem = maskulin, Dativ)

The customer to whom they are bringing tea (dem is the indirect object of bringen).

Die Kundin, die ich sehe. (die = Akkusativ)

The customer whom I see (die is the feminine accusative).


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