I can't for the life of me figure out how to say "which" in this context:

I'm trying to say "The first and second stanzas have different rhythms, which sets them apart from each other..."

Please help!


February 15, 2018


I think you should not focus on how to translate an isolated word ("which"), but rather on how to translate the idea. This is how I would express it (a suggestion):

"Die erste und zweite Strophe unterscheiden sich dadurch, dass sie verschiedene Rhythmen aufweisen."

or, shorter and closer to your "set apart" ("sich voneinander abheben"):

"Die erste und zweite Strophe heben sich durch ihre verschiedenen Rhythmen voneinander ab".

"Die erste und zweite Strophe haben (ein verschiedenes Versmaß?*), was sie voneinander unterscheidet."

"was" in this case means "which" in the sense of "which is the thing that [sets them apart]".

( opposed to e.g. "The book which I read last week" = "Das Buch, das ich gestern gelesen habe", or also - formally and/or old-fashioned - "Das Buch, welches ich gestern gelesen habe")

*Versmaß = metre / metric pattern, like da-DAM-da-DAM-da-DAM vs. da-da-DAM-da-DAM-da-da-DAM, if that's what you're aiming at?

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And are you trying to say this in German?

Well, keep in mind that we could also say " The first and second stanzas have different rhythms, that sets them apart from each other...." The examples here don't highlight "die" for "that" though they should from what I learned later.

Here are some excellent examples of sentences with dependent clauses:

Anyway, I think that I would go with "dass", but I would love to hear from a German speaker.

Ah, here is what I was looking for:

So welcher can only be used for the genitive case. It is after all not a stand alone pronoun, but used more like an adjective, while "which" can be used as a relative pronoun.

So since "rhythms" is plural, "die" ( Accusative would stay the same, but dative would be denen.) I actually bothered to check what gender "rhythm" is : Knowing it is masculine would have been important if it were singular.

See how that is different from "dass" which is a conjunction but not a relative pronoun,

So from the context link, I learned that "from each other" is "voneinander". I am going to try: "Die erste und die zweite Strophe haben verscheidene Rhythmen, die sie voneinander unterscheiden."

or do I need to use "sich" instead of "sie" ? Sometimes these verbs require reflexive for a particular meaning. I am not sure if this does?

Yes, "sich" voneinander unterscheiden.

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