MIt denen

IVe hear people use this quite a bit. For example there were some plates on a key and the girl said “mit denen” and I think she meant something like “with these”. How come she is using the relativ Satz rules in Dativ form here?

February 14, 2018


There is always dative after "mit". So in plural, it is mit denen.

In singular (der,die ,das) it would be mit dem, mit der, mit dem.

I thought plural dative is „mit den“?

good question. i'd never thought about it until you asked. den is indeed plural dative. But denen is plural dative for relative pronouns ( things like: who, whom, which, whoever, whomever, whichever, and that.) There may be more to it, but that's what I think...

Es gibt Dinge mit denen es sich nicht spassen laesst.

Or: Mit den Dingen laesst es sich nicht spassen.

I get this but I’m wondering why the person I heard said just “mit denen”. I’ve heard it before as well

der (defined artikel) singular masculinum nominative den (defined article) plural masculinum dative

der (relative pronoun) singular masculinum nominative denen (relative pronoun) plural masculinum dative

der (demonstrative pronoun) singular masculinum nomative denen (demonstrative pronoun) plural masculinum dative

tl;dr: there are different "der".

"Mit den" needs a noun, because it means "with the". "denen" is as well a relative pronoun (for examples see npLam) as a demonstrative pronoun (this, that, these, those). Maybe it is even sometimes used where you would use a personal pronoun in English (here: he, she, it, they). Maybe you understand the situation with the translation "With them".

But why not mit ihnen?

Ihnen is a personal pronoun. In many situations you can also use it instead of a demonstrative pronoun, but then yout lose the "pointing-to" character:

  • Meine Nachbarn sind gute Freunde. Mit denen fahre ich in den Uralub. Or: Mit ihnen fahre ich in den Uralub. (the first is more common, the second sounds more official/polite)

You cannot use it to replace a relative pronoun:

  • Meine Nachbarn, mit denen ich in den Urlaub fahre, sind gute Freunde. But not: Meine Nachbarn, mit *ihnen ich gerne in den Urlaub fahre, ...

The problem for me has been that the usual use of relative pronouns is well-covered on Duolingo and other resources, and to me denen is a relative pronoun. Looking on Wikipedia and some other sources, the usage of der/die/das/.../denen as demonstrative pronouns is not mentioned - only other types of demonstrative pronouns such as jener/dieser/etc.

What I've never seen an acceptable explanation of, is the use of these 'relative pronouns' as demonstrative pronouns. To me, these are situations where we could just as easily use personal pronouns, so why not? Is it a difference between spoken and written language?

After some further looking, has a page on the usage of these demonstrative pronouns, but doesn't really mention why they would be preferred over personal pronouns, or over the other demonstrative pronouns.

Oh right!! So say I see a bunch of plates randomly and some asks me what i've serving the food on, I can just point and say "mit denen"?

If I get you right, yes. Womit willst du das Essen servieren? Mit denen. (pointing to the plates)

OK thanks. So it means like “with these”. The only thing I don’t get is that i thought “mit denen” only works with relativ Sätze

Denen is a relative pronoun as well as a demonstrative pronoun:

  • Relative p.: "Das sind die Teller, mit denen ich das Essen serviere." (These are the plates with which I serve the food)
  • Demonstrative p.: "Das sind die Teller. Mit denen serviere ich das Essen". (These are the plates. With these I serve the food."

Awesome! I didn’t know about the demonstrative. Now I get it finally!

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