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  5. "Daran fehlt es."

"Daran fehlt es."

Translation:That is missing.

November 15, 2013



Is Daran needed? How does it change the sentence from Es fehlt?


"Es fehlt." a thing is missing

"Daran fehlt es." a character attribute is missing (If you are messy a conception of tidiness is missing.)


Isn't it something like "on this aspect is fails"


I tried 'It that way it is lacking', but no joy.


because your translation doesn't mean anything in English.


"Daran fehlt es" isn't wrong, but if I need to translate "that is missing" then there are many more precise variations. For example "es fehlt".


I am sorry but can you prove some more examples and explanations, because I think that lookword's explanation fits the best in this context.

Daran fehlt es to me sounds as that (thing/skill/attribute mentioned before, whatever it was) is missing.

Es fehlt sounds to me as just an exclamation that some tangible thing is missing...

Could be wrong though, as I am not native nor proficient.


What's the difference? Duolingo doesn't provide any context for the phrase, so the distinction you draw is immaterial. Duo's use of a specific use case without preparing the learner with context contributes to confusion.


But Duo does that in many cases. Sometimes he just does not give any context for the understanding of the sentence or phrase.


I'm gonna take a shot at explaining this, I might be wrong here:

Da-prepositions are used as placeholders for something said previously. In english, this would be like:

I had a pen. It is missing.

"It" here is the placeholder.

In German, you'd have:

Ich hatte einen Kugelschreiber. Daran fehlt es. - I had a pen. It is missing.

Ich habe einen Termin morgen. Ich denke daran - I have an appointment tomorrow. I am thinking of it.

(Ich denke von ihm would be wrong here.)

However, there is an exception, for living beings. If you had to say:

Ich habe einen Hund zu Haus. Ich denke von ihm. - I have a dog at home. I am thinking of him.

(Can't use daran here.)

More examples:

Haben wir eine grüne Tasche? Ich kann mich nicht daran erinnern - Do we have a green bag? I can't remember it.

Bis dahin, wird er das Fahrrad reparieren. - By then, he will fix the bike.

Er arbeitet nur, weil er dafür gut bezahlt wurde. - He only works because he is paid well for it. (In response to someone asking - "Why does he work if he doesn't like it?"


It's also a placeholder for things immediately to follow, which is unlike english. This happens a lot with verbs that attach with prepositions. For instance, warten is to wait, but AUF etwas warten is to wait FOR something. If that something is a person or thing, then it's simple, just put it in the accusative: Ich warte auf dich -- I'm waiting for you. Ich warte auf den Bus -- I'm waiting on the bus. BUT! If that something is a sentence with a verb, then you can't just put auf in front of it:

I am waiting for the bus to come -- Ich warte auf den Bus zu kommen IS WRONG!

You'd need to use this sort of anticipatory da-word, that points to the sentence to come, pointing forward, rather than back:

Ich warte darauf, dass der Bus kommt. -- I'm waiting for the bus to come.


This is awesome, thanks.


I'm not a native German speaker, but I think those examples are misleading: da(r)- is not used to refer to a single object that was mentioned before, but rather to a whole sentence. Your examples become then:

"Ich habe einen Termin morgen. Ich denke daran." - I have an appointment tomorrow. I am thinking of the fact that I have an appointment.

"Haben wir eine grüne Tasche? Ich kann mich nicht daran erinnern." - Do we have a green bag? I can't remember if we have one.

"Ich hatte einen Kugelschreiber. Daran fehlt es." - Not sure, it sounds strange. In English the "it" in "it is missing" refers to the pen, so a translation for "I had a pen. It is missing." would rather be "Ich hatte einen Kugelschreiber. Er fehlt".

If you want to directly refer to a single object that was mentioned before you should use a different construction:

"Ich habe einen Termin morgen. An den denke ich."

"Haben wir eine grüne Tasche? Ich kann mich nicht an eine erinnern." - I kind of remember we have something, but I can't remember if that something is a green bag.

"Ich hatte einen Kugelschreiber. An dem fehlt es jetzt." - I had a pen. Now there's lack of it. (Not really a nice sentence, but it should be conform to the original without using an ambiguous extra "it")


Thanks for the correction :)


Tolle Beispiele! Danke vielmals!


Are you saying that "Ich hatte einen Kugelschreiber. Er fehlt," IS WRONG?!


I suppose I'm still confused about whether "daran" is necessary in the example "Ich hatte einen Kugelscreiber. Daran fehlt es.". Would "Es fehlt" not work equally as well? If not then what grammatical purpose does it serve? Is it indicating where the pen is missing from?


I've written a few comments in this thread already that apply to your question. Also, "jg9000" has a nice comment a bit further down. I think that those together can answer your question.


Just so that people didn't get confused, you should change the 'von ihn' to 'von ihm'. Von requires the pronoun to be dative. :)


It is "Kugelschreiber" not "Kugelscreiber"


'von ihn' is incorrect in any case, as 'ihn' is accusative (masculine) and 'von' takes dative. It has to be 'von ihm'.


Great examples. Only one littel thing has to be changed: Ich habe einen Hund zu Hause. Ich denke AN ihn. - I have a dog at home. I am thinking of him.


My two cents: Daran = Da + an (of that / about that). So, "Daran fehlt es" would translate to "Of that (from a bunch of things), it (a particular thing) is missing". "Fehlt es" would be simply "It is missing". So Daran I guess gives a bit more context to the sentence.


I got some relevant help from posting a question to the discussion board https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23767622

To sum it up - this phrase works only with something said previously. An example by Hannibal-Barkas was really helpful. "Dieser Satz benötigt einen Zusammenhang. Daran fehlt es hier" (this sentence needs a context. That is missing.)

If you check duden http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/daran, then one of the meanings of "daran" is "in this question / in this case" (an dieser Sache, an dieser Angelegenheit). Therefore you can understand the german "daran fehlt es" as "in this question we fail" or "in this case we have shortage". But that is a little clumsy and as a translation "that is missing" is much better.

Very helpful is also the full idiom stated by mizinamo "es fehlt jemandem an etwas", which is an idiom for "someone is lacking something". This helps to understand the "es" in the phrase "daran fehlt es".


Because the emphasis is on daran / that, my inclination would be to say 'That is what is missing.' Syntactically, this might differ too much for Duo to accept it. Didn't try it because I just had a question where one assembles the given words.


ArtBurnap, et al., Whenever you have a question to assemble the words (word blocks), you can always switch to answering by typing on your keyboard. Just click below on the word "keyboard" or "Tastatur."

For what it's worth, Google translates "Daran fehlt es" as "That's what's missing."


why on Earth shall we guess these impossible sentences without any previous hint or explanation!?!?!


At a time like this, it's good to remind ourselves that the goal is learning, and NOT to get it right on the first try.


No but with sentences like this it isn't teaching... Teaching is not about brute force trial and error... it is about explanation.


Who taught you English in the first place? All learning is a steady coaxing of neurons to fire at a particular time when you want them to. Take piano. The brain only ansorbs so much at a time. But it DOES absorb. Just keep applying the practice and itll just "click" one day.


There is more than one "method" to facilitate learning. Teaching is only one of them. If that is what you feel comfortable with, try:



Hammer Grammar is Super! Thanks for sharing that.


Unknot your britches, sir. You signed up for Duolingo. Roll with it.


It is with sentences like this that i read the comments though. In the end it works for me.


That is only true if the sentences that DL is teaching are correct... In this case it's doubtful!

  • 2046

@duuuudeZ: That was true until Duolingo introduced the Health feature.


If you don't like a feature such as Health, try Duolingo on the web. Duo on the web has always been the best experience. Also, even with Health or hearts, you learn more if you make a serious effort to get answers right the first time but can calmly accept inevitable mistakes and learn from them.


They had the health feature back when it started. They may have removed it, and just reintroduced it. The goal is still learning regardless of a health feature.


In real life with language, you will get thousands of such situations. And oftentimes you will learn from them. Let's not be point-greedy and show some generosity.

  • 2046

@Shanajan: Exactly. Especially since Duolingo introduced the dreaded Health Feature which heavily penalises you for errors in the courses!


It might help to know that "Daran" is an equivalent to the English "thereon", or "on/about that". (For example, "Denk daran" means "think about it".) Thus, this sentence is something like "on that, it is missing".

It would probably be easier to comprehend with some kind of context. I'm sure a simpler sentence could've been used to introduce this word.


Skugginn nice explanation.


Although I'm not a native speaker, I've done some searching and I think I've reached an explanation that hasn't been mentioned here. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

The verb fehlen can be used in a few different ways. Some of them are:

  1. "(etwas) fehlt" means "(something) is missing".
  2. "Es fehlt an (etwas)" means "There is a lack of (something)". The "es" here is an impersonal pronoun (not referring to anything specific).
  3. "(etwas1) fehlt es an (etwas2)" means "(something1) is lacking (something2)". Both objects are in the dative case.

Here the second construction above is used, except that instead of "an etwas", we use "daran" which means "the preposition an + (it/that)". After rearranging the order this gives "Daran fehlt es".


Best explanation by far. The LEO entry http://dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/fehlen backs you up. Thanks , and have alingot!


This should be the top comment. Very helpful to realize that "es" is an expletive pronoun (like "there" in English") and not the topic/focus.


Could we add some context around this "Daran fehlt es." to make the understanding complete? What sentence would you have before it?


@jg 9000After weeks of self reading about the verb fehlen, over and over again, I think i am finally able to comprehend what you have researched. I would paste 2 more useful links from Duolingo (apart from this one) and i thank the people who have commented in those links for the information and knowledge they provided in those links, specially, Mizinamo, Ly_Mar, Person 243 and Andreas. Thank you. https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/17975550 https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/156770


some help here plz, when is this used?


Copying my answer from above:

Da-prepositions are used as placeholders for something said previously. In english, this would be like:

I had a pen. It is missing.

"It" here is the placeholder.

In German, you'd have:

Ich hatte einen Kugelscreiber. Daran fehlt es. - I had a pen. It is missing.

Ich habe einen Termin morgen. Ich denke daran - I have an appointment tomorrow. I am thinking of it.

(Ich denke von ihn would be wrong here.)

However, there is an exception, for living beings. If you had to say:

Ich habe einen Hund zu Haus. Ich denke von ihn. - I have a dog at home. I am thinking of him.

(Can't use daran here.)

More examples:

Haben wir eine grüne Tasche? Ich kann mich nicht daran erinnern - Do we have a green bag? I can't remember it.


I wrote "It lacks that" but it wasn't accepted. Is there a distinctive reason why?


What about That's why it's missing?


Do you mean darum?


I tried this too. This is certainly better than "That is missing"


How about "It's missing on it"? An also means on something (Like on the wall), doesn't it?


Yeah, but the 'an' here is just a 'prepositional complement' to the verb fehlen. It's not acting so much on its own, with its own meaning. 'an' and 'fehlen' here act as a team, with a team meaning.

It's a bit like "catch" and "up": those each have their own meanings, but "catching up" isn't really catching, and doesn't necessarily involve going up.


"Daran fehlt es" is just an idiom.
An idiom is "a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words" (e.g. over the moon, see the light ).

In Duolingo's courses you can recognize idiom by hovering over the words. If Duolingo gives a group of words instead of a literal translation of the word, then it is an idiom.


Thanks for your post!

Do I get it correctly that "daran" has actually no other value in "daran fehlt es" than being just a necessary word in a fixed expression?

If something is missing then you can say in German either "es fehlt" or "daran fehlt es" and they are equal? Even with the latter you don't need to point out any location where this "it" is missing, do you?


www.duden.de is a good source for finding answers to this kind of questions.
Here is the link for "daran"


Es tut mir leid, aber da gibt keine entsprechende Antwort auf meine Frage. Und ich bin sicher, das auch andere Lernende hier sind verwirrend und kann nicht verstehen die Rolle des Wortes "daran".

Was kann man dort finden, ist nur die Erklärung des Wortes "daran" aber dort fehlt die Erklärung des Ausdrucks "daran fehlt es".


And if you still don't accept Duolingo's translations of German expressions to English expressions, than the course "Dutch for English speakers" is a good choice to do next.
In this case, Dutch has both expressions and they mean the same.

Daran fehlt es = Daaraan ontbreekt het = Dat mist = That is missing.


I assume it's not a frequently used expression. I at least have never heard it in the Netherlands and after reading all the comments still struggle to understand where "daran" (or the Dutch "daaraan") comes from.


It is just idiom and you have to accept, that Duolingo is teaching us the right way to translate it from German to (American) English.
Please, have a look at


Thanks for your help! It's not a question about accepting something, it's the question of getting the answer when you need one. I had trouble in understanding the current phrase and I have got it now :)


I thought that "daran" also meant "because."


The clues say "about them." So I figured "it is missing to them," therefore "they don't have it." Is "They don't have it" completely missing the point? How does the clue including "them" relevant here? What is plural in this sentence, or when is daran plural?


The 'da' in 'daran' is simply used to point at something. So, it might be pointing at a single thing or at many things. You figure out from context what it's pointing at.


I don't understand adverbs at all (sad face).


I heartily recommend this blog, which contains a post on adverbs


and a lot of other topics


Agreed, this blog is fantastic!


I have a tough time with these "da" words but am starting to get the hang of them. There are some helpful YouTube videos out there, like this:



What's wrong with "Das fehlt"?


Why that (=das) is missing and not it (=es) is missing?


why didn't it accept: "it is missing that"?


perhaps, it would accept if you say, it is missing in that


can we simply translate, "That is missing", as "das fehlt"?


I swear this entire unit should just be called "idiomatic expressions". It's less about the meanings of individual words and more about the figurative meanings of groups of words that need to be memorized as groups of words.


that's what it is missing is false?


Yes, that's wrong. "It" is not missing something else; "it" is the thing that is missing. Correct is just "It is missing."


Could one say "it lacks of that"?


As a translation of "daran fehlt es"? Or, are you asking if one can use the english verb in this way?

You can use "of" with the noun lack -- There is a lack of something. But, "of" doesn't work with the verb lack. You lack something. (You have a lack of something.) But, you don't lack of something. I don't usually see the verb lack paired with any preposition, actually. The dictionary says you can "lack for" something. But...in all those "lack for" examples, I'd probably either just say "lack", or....use a different verb.

So, I guess that also answers the other question. As a translation of "daran fehlt es", if you really want to say "of", then I'd suggest using the noun lack: There is a lack of something.


'This is not right'. . . . ?


I put: they are missing it. Wrong?


Sure, wrong. There is nothing said about "them".


I guessed It lacks that. How is that wrong?

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