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Something wrong with this sentence?

Aus Angela Merkel's Neujahrsansprache 2016/17:

«Mut machen mir auch der Enthusiasmus und Erfindungsgeist, mit dem in deutschen Unternehmen und an unseren Hochschulen für die Zukunft geforscht und entwickelt wird.»

Hmmmm. There is something off about the subordinate clause here. It seems not to have any nominative case!

I would sooner doubt my own German abilities than those of Merkel. Hence my question.

So am I right or what!? xD

Thank you for your reply!

October 13, 2017



Hi Immergrün,

I agree with you, it doesn't sound correct. With the start "Mut machen..." I expect plural in the further sentence but it ends with "...entwickelt wird"

It's tricky. So first part seems correct, second part to but they don't match In my opinion this sentence should be rewritten to be correct.

best regards Angel

edit: I've heard Ms. Merkel more often saying "not matching" sentences like this.


You got two options how to talk about the two things connected with 'und' in this sentence which are equally correct:

1) Using the singular verb form: "Mut macht mir auch der Enthusiasmus und Erfindungsgeist, mit dem ..."

2) Using the plural verb form: "Mut machen mir auch der Enthusiasmus und Erfindungsgeist, mit denen..."

As there are those 2 options Frau Merkel mixed both in her sentence. It is an everyday thing to mix them up by accident. It may not be grammatically 100% on point, but is easily understandable by Germans. The nominative case is thus still there, but not matched correctly in its required plural form (mit denen).

Hope I could help!


Subordinate clauses? Nominative cases!? Angela Merkel's New Year address? How are you only on German level 7 on Duolingo? LOL :-) :-)


In der Wirklichkeit spricht niemand total perfekt. Deutsch ist eine sehr komplizierte Sprache ,wo jedes Wort ein "Fall" sein kann.

Not merely a "case " of number, gender of a noun or adjective, but a "pitfall" for even the most experienced native German speaker. Word order is also important and it becomes increasingly hard to construct a complex sentence spontaneously in real time. Clauses and phrases can be neatly packed into long structures with a string of verbs separated by commas hanging on the end. But does this enhance the clarity of communication? English grammar has relatively few inflections in comparison, but it is still very easy to get lost in the middle of a spoken sentence. In reality the British speak in short utterances without needing to speak like a text book. However this does prevent our ability to communicate our ideas orally. I am quite certain that we all make errors all the time, even experienced professional communicators such as Angela. I think that the real point of any language is to convey information. Grammar is really just an attempt to fossilise the way we speak for future generations to copy.


"this does prevent our ability to communicate our ideas orally" - did you mean "doesn't"? Otherwise Shakespeare, Churchill, Lennon/McCartney and a few others may beg to differ :-) :-)


hi Angel and Steve

Humble apologies!! I have indeed fallen down my own "mining pit." The omission of an "n't" has completely negated the meaning of a written sentence!
Now I cannot even express myself in print in my own language without conveying the wrong meaning!!!


Phew! LOL!! In that case, have a lingot:-) :-)


Hi Bruere,

Wir stimmen also überein: deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache. :-)

I think there is no reason to defent anyone. The question was if there is a "mistake" in this sentence at all. And indeed this sentence irritates.

I would discribe the german language as a mining field of "pitfalls" and you get caught by one of them sooner or later.

So I think nobody of us is looking down on Fr. Merkel for that sentence.

best regards Angel


Hallo Angel

Elleasar hat das Problem genau identifiziert.

"der Enthusiasmus und (der) Erfindungsgeist" kann (oder koennen) entweder Singular oder Plural sein - (aber nicht gleichzeitig im selben Satz) !! Komisch nicht wahr?


John Bruere


Hallo Bruere,

jep, genau das ist das Problem in diesem Satz. Aber ich denke, man kann ihn nicht einfach korrigieren. Man müsste ihn entweder in zwei Sätze trennen oder komplett umschreiben.

beste Grüße Angel PS. Da das Forum im Moment Macken hat, muss ich mich leider durch die Beiträge klicken, ob jemand geantwortet hat. Also nicht böse sein, wenn die Antwort dauert oder nicht kommt :-(


Could be reviewing...

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