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  5. "Sie ist eine Frau, die weiß,…

"Sie ist eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will."

Translation:She is a woman who knows what she wants.

January 15, 2017



There are more commas here in the German than the English. Do native German speakers pause on these commas as the computer voice does, and English speakers usually do on commas in English? Pausing so much seems a bit stilted?

  • 606

No, in this sentence I would make at most one real pause (more likely at the first comma rather than the second, although that would be fine as well). Commas in German mostly serve to tell you that what follows belongs to a different main clause or subclause. While these places often lend themselves to making a pause if you want to, there doesn’t have to be one. However thinking about it, I found that I tend to slightly raise my voice before each comma (maybe not quite as much as the computer voice, but I do), especially when I do make a pause and want to make sure that the other person doesn’t think my sentence is already finished.


English speakers notoriously (and incorrectly) leave out punctuation, especially in informal writing like text messages and notes and such. Do Germans ever get lazy like we do and just leave these commas out? I'm glad they're there as a learner because it helps to break up the clauses into more manageable bits, but I can just imagine Germans (aka, normal people) dropping this. But maybe not. It'd be interesting to know.


Sure; informal writing such as in chats often leaves out commas, as well as abbreviating words etc.


I'm not understanding „die weiß”. It translates to "who knows" but does „die” pretty much mean "(female) who"?

  • 606

Exactly. It tells you that the thing which got replaced in the relative clause is feminine and in nominative case (technically there are two or three more alternatives such as feminine accusative because the article die can mean different things but at least it gives you a limited number of options and context handles the rest).

One neat technique to identify the form of the relative pronoun is to proceed in steps:

  1. Write it as two sentences: Sie ist die Frau. Die Frau weiß, was sie will.
  2. In the second sentence, replace the repeated noun phrase with the demonstrative (the one which is almost always identical to the article): Sie ist die Frau. Die weiß, was sie will.
  3. That demonstrative is your relative pronoun. Move it to the front to link the two clauses. The verb is moved to the end (in this case there is a subclause to the relative clause “was sie will”. Here it is better to only move the verb in front of the subclause; that makes it easier to understand): Sie ist die Frau, die weiß, was sie will.

Or another example:

  1. Das ist der Mann. Der Mann liebt mich.
  2. Das ist der Mann. Der liebt mich.
  3. Das ist der Mann, der mich liebt. (This is the man who loves me.)

Compare this with:

  1. Das ist der Mann. Ich liebe den Mann.
  2. Das ist der Mann. Ich liebe den.
  3. Das ist der Mann, den ich liebe. (This is the man that I love.)


Danke, much helpful!

[deactivated user]

    Danke schön, das war sehr hilfreich! Ich verstehe jetzt.


    I said "She is a WIFE who knows what she wants" , and got rejected...

    • 606

    In that case I would have expected her to be introduced as “x’s wife”. Without such a relationship being mentioned, I always interprete Frau as “woman”, not “wife”. If for some reason I really wanted to say “a wife” without mentioning whose wife it is, I would use the unambiguous Ehefrau. (Same with Mann and Ehemann).


    There is no context here. Maybe she was introduced as "x's wife" Just how would you say "She is a wife who knows what she wants." in German?

    • 606

    If you really want to use stress that she is somebody’s wife then you could use Ehefrau. However I can’t imagine a situation where you would actually say “Sie ist eine Ehefrau, die weiß, was sie will.” I can’t really imagine a situation where you would feel naturally inclined to cram the word “wife” in there. Even in English it feels more natural to say “X’s wife is a woman who knows what she wants.” Also, the insistence on stressing her wife status would make it sound like you’re more or less subtly suggesting that wives typically don’t know what they want.


    Yes, isn't the same is true of "She is a woman who knows what she wants."? With the insistence on stressing her woman status aren't we making it sound like we're more or less subtly suggesting that women typically don’t know what they want?

    • 606

    To a degree maybe, but a much smaller one. Frau could only be used as a dummy noun with little intrinsic meaning to attach the relative clause to. Some other languages use even less specific nouns for this, e.g. 人 ‘person’ in Mandarin, but for some reason it’s more natural in German to speak about “eine Frau, die…/ein Mann, der…” than “eine Person, die…”.

    In any case, you would have to use Ehefrau to have it be understood as “wife” but I can’t really imagine a situation which would make you want that for this particular sentence.


    Why is eine and ein in every sentence we have seen until now in this lesson could some one creat a sentence with die or den or whatever it needs .bitte


    der Mann = masculine noun: Ich sehe den Mann, der weiß, was er will. Ich sehe einen Mann, der weiß, was er will.

    die Frau= feminine noun: Ich sehe die Frau, die weiß, was sie will. Ich sehe eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will.

    das Kind=neuter noun: Ich sehe das Kind, das weiß, was es will. Ich sehe ein Kind, das weiß, was es will.

    • 606

    Here you go: „Ich sehe die Frau, die weiß, was sie will.“ (I see the woman who knows what she wants.)

    Whether there is a definite or indefinite article in front of the noun doesn’t make a difference for the relative clause (I’m guessing that’s the lesson that this sentence appears in); maybe that’s why the creators didn’t pay attention to using a vaguely equal ratio in this lesson.


    I read a rule that said if you follow a verb with a comma, you must follow the comma with a verb. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Any thoughts?

    • 606

    Such a rule does not exist. The rule is, if there are two or more clauses (main or subordinate ones) in a sentence, they have to be separated by commas (with the exception that the conjunctions und and oder don’t insert commas before them by themselves). Think of it as brackets if that helps: If you indicated the beginning and end of each clause with a bracket, there will have to be a comma at each opening and closing bracket (but obviously without placing multiple punctuation marks right after one another, so if there are multiple brackets in the same place, you insert only one comma, and there is no comma right at the beginning and end either).

    In our sentence above we have three conjugated verbs: ist, weiß and will. The clause structure is: Sie ist eine Frau [die weiß [was sie will]]. So since you have to insert a comma at each opening and closing bracket (except where it would lead to multiple consecutive punctuation marks): Sie ist eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will.

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