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  5. "Das ist alles, was ich über …

"Das ist alles, was ich über ihn weiß."

Translation:That is all I know about him.

March 24, 2013



I REALLY don't understand this sentence and the word order in it. Can someone please help and explain it slowly...? Pretty please..?


The comma in German may confuse you. It is to indicate a subordinate clause ("was ich über ihn weiß."). The English sentence also has a subordinate(=dependent) clause ("that I know about him"), but it is not as heavily marked. Now, if you're a native English speaker, you've probably been making these clauses all your life without thinking about them. A dependent clause complements the main sentence and cannot stand on its own. So just like in English "that I know about him" cannot stand on its own, in German "was ich über ihn weiß" cannot be separate. In German, they happen to indicate this with a comma. In English putting a comma here would be incorrect.


Just to clarify, you can actually put a comma in there in English, especially if the clauses are long. And, if the subordinate phrase comes first, you must put a comma in. For example, "After playing with the dog, I wash my hands". However, this is also (very slowly) going out of fashion, unfortunately "After playing with the dog I wash my hands" is becoming accepted.


I couldn't agree more about the "unfortunately". Commas were used in English for a reason, which was for clarity. Their gradual loss reduces the clarity and is also a sad indication that longer, more elegant and interesting sentences are less frequently used.


is that why the verb Weiss was moved to the end?


Yes, the verb always comes at the end of a subordinate clause.


What I've noticed on Duolingo is that when the subordinate clause comes second, there is a comma placed in front of it, whereas in English this occurs when the subordinate clause comes first. Is this correct? Would a comma in German never be placed if the subordinate clause comes first?


Can "was" be replaced with "dass" here?


"Dass" for me seems really better than "was"


No, dass does not work at all I’m afraid. Dass introduces a subject or object clause – a clause which basically stands in for a noun. For example in Ich weiß, dass er schläft, dass clause is the object – it occupies the same slot as die Antwort does in Ich weiß die Antwort.

But that’s not what we’re dealing with here. In “everything (that) I know”, the subclause is a relative clause: It serves as a further explanation on “everything”. So one might think that it should be das (with only one s) should work, as it does in das Haus, das ich gekauft habe. But unfortunately after neuter pronouns (as well as a small number of other things such as nominalised superlatives like das Beste, was mir je passiert ist “the best thing that ever happened to me, or if the relative clause refers to the whole main clause as in Er ging nach Hause, was seinen Chef sehr ärgerte “He went home, which made his boss very angry”), we use was instead. (Or wo(r)- + preposition if the relative pronoun appears together with a preposition in the relative clause).

So was is the only correct one here, das would be an understandable mistake, and dass does not work.


A very good reply, but may I ask what you mean by neuter pronouns? I take it that ''alles'' is one, could you give some more examples?


All indefinite pronouns for things such as etwas, nichts, alles etc (because these are neuter gender by default), but also neuter gender demonstratives like das… All neuter gender pronouns I can think of that can be followed by relative clauses.


Why is ihn written in the accusative here?


über makes it ihn. Since it's discussing what is known about (über him) it is put in the accusative.


To me it seems like it should be dative


i've seen somewhere dative is usually with time, manner or place, which usually are the indirect objects of a sentence, so i think accusative really does fit best i'm no expert though


Read the new tips and notes, that will clarify your doubt:)


When you listen to the sentence, ihn and ihm are indistinguishable (slow version too) so again by poor enunciation Duolingo makes it easy to get confused


Luckily this one is unambiguous because über in the sense “about (some topic)“ always wants accusative case.


Difference between was and dass in this sentence? Thank you :)


Why is the 'was' necessary here? If it's to be roughly equal to the english 'that', shouldn't 'dass' be used?


I get that it is inverted due to clause... 'that is all, what I about him know' ... "That's all I know about him".

But why 'was' instead of 'dass'?

Is was here just an alternative?


Why is the word "was" needed?


You can't leave that out in German the way that we can leave "that" out English. That said, I learnt to use "das" nstead of "was" here, so apparently some variation is possible.


Ah, okay, so I see what the structure has to be in German.


What is the role of the word "weiß" in this sentence?

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@cathyr19355 : It stands for the English word "know".


What is the difference between "weiß" and "kenne"

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@AHolik : kennen should be used when we want to express that we are familiar with a person or a place. wissen should be used when we want to express a fact, something that we have knowledge about.

Sources: http://www.livinglanguage.com/blog/2012/07/02/wissen-vs-kennen-to-know-in-german/


so "...I know (some fact)..." is always translated "...Ich weiß...?" It's never ich weiße?

Is wissen just an irregular verb or is this another annoying grammatical instance?


Its irregular. It comes at the end because a subordinate clause moves the conjugated verb to the end.

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Yes. Yes.
I don't know what to say regarding your third question.


Bro, I have a doubt. Why is the verb ''weißen'' conjugated as ''weiß'' instead of ''weiße'' in the sentence... The conjugator says in the present tense for Ich it is ''Ich weiße'' I really appreciate your help


"Weißen" is a different word, meaning "to whiten". Type "wissen" into your verb conjugator.


Thank you very much. Es ist klar jetzt


i made this question right way ... but i don't understand why ver "weiß" is in the last word . why they don't say : was ich weiß über ihn ? can someone tell me ?


I believe subordinate clauses must always end with the verb.


'to know' is to turn on a lamp,

the shift to white(enlightenment) against black(darkness)

What a beautiful language the German has


It is unclear why akkusativ is used here. There is no directional movement. In the discussion it has not been cleared up either. Can someone help please?


Unfortunately the position/direction distinction for prepositions only helps you to identify the case when we’re talking about literal position/directions (or at least metaphors which use the image of a position/direction). Other usages unfortunately have to be just memorised (this is the case in other languages, too, e.g. in Russian в “in” normally uses accusative for direction and prepositional for position, but when used with time nouns it’s always accusative: в пятницу “on Friday”).

For über, when it’s used to mark a topic of discussion/dispute etc (equivalent to English “about”), the noun always has to be in accusative case.


Thank you for the explanation of ueber "about" taking the accusative: that's really helpful. Have a lingot!


I think it falls under the category of idiomatic phrases. Maybe this will help:



I just simply don't understand why is not good the That is ...., what..... Is it good to use in english That ...., that .....?


In many languages complex sentences are formed as a statement followed by a question. "I know that, what she said is true" This sounds awkward in English because we almost always omit one of the words. "I know what she said is true".


'I know what she said is true'. This particular example isn't that awkward really. The comma is weird tho because a pause is unnecessary.


While in German it seems that is the way you can construct sentences like the one in the example, in English you cannot do the same.


Great discussion


Please could someone help me understand when to you 'was' and when to use 'dass'? I can't see a reason why one is used over the other in different sentences. Thank you!!!


Why is the sentence in acussative.?


Could das,(not dass), be used instead of was?


I would never say that, although I’m uncertain if it’s explicitly forbidden by textbook grammar. In any case, there are certain words after which you should use was if you add a relative clause to them, and alles is one of these. See this page on relative clauses for more information.


We saw a similar sentence in Questions, where worrüber was used instead of was... über. Is this change optional?


It’s basically the same idea as with normal (non-indirect) questions. Instead of “preposition + was” you say ”wo(r)- + preposition” (at least in theory; in practice simple “prep. + was” is sometimes heard colloquially, but it can sound a little clumsy). So if the thing after the preposition is the one you’re inquiring about (and it’s not a person, since then you would use wer instead of was/wo(r)-+prep). But in this case the question is not “about what I know” something, it’s “what I know about him”. Does that make sense?


is it also right to say:" DAS IST ALLES,WAS ICH WEIS UBER IHN"?


No. The verb needs to go at the end of the sentence. http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa032700a.htm


Could anyone kindly explain why accusative case is used here?


What's the meaning of "weiß" in this sentence?


Will it be right "Das ist alles ich kenne uber ihn" ?


I’m afraid not, and for multiple reasons:

  1. German doesn’t allow you to leave out the relative pronoun like English does sometimes. So you absolutely do need was.
  2. What I know about him is a collection of facts, not a thing you can be familiar with. Therefore you need wissen instead of kennen.
  3. Relative clauses are subordinate clauses, so their verb always has to come at the end: was ich über ihn weiß (not *was ich weiß über ihn).
  4. It’s über, not uber. Do not ignore umlauts; they are different letters than the forms without the dot and replacing them with the base form can often result in a different word (though in this case you’d be lucky and it wouldn’t). If you’re on one of your own devices, install a keyboard layout which allows you to type them (don’t worry; you can switch back to English at the press of a button). And if you’re in an environment where you don’t have that choice, use the base letter + e (ae, oe, ue instead of ä, ö, ü). That’s what we do in environments where we can’t use non-ASCII letters. But you should only do that when there is no other choice because there are also words (particularly names like the city of Oldesloe) which are spelt with a vowel + e to begin with.


Why not use "dass" instead of "was"? Wouldn't it make more sense to use 'that' as a conjunction here?


Dass doesn’t make sense here. It means “(the fact) that”, for example: “Ich weiß, dass er kommt” (I know (the fact) that he will come). It is not a relative pronoun and cannot refer back to a word in the main clause (in this case alles).


Über is a two-way preposition; if the verb shows movement toward a destination or change in condition, it calls for the accusative. Otherwise, it calls for the dative. Surely ihn should be ihm?


I’m afraid the two-way dative=position, accusative=direction thing only helps you with literally spacial usages. For other meanings the way the space metaphor works is not very obvious so you still have to memorise that. The metaphorical image with the “about” meaning of über is movement “across”, that’s why it uses accusative case.


as always, duolingo didn't explain


What exactly?

Ihn is accusative because the preposition über wants accusative when it doesn’t refer to a literal position above.

Was is also accusative (although it’s difficult to see because the accusative is identical to the nominative) because it’s the object of weiß, and wissen (like the overwhelming majority of verbs with a single object) wants its object to be in accusative case.


Why uber ihn and not uber ihm.. Dative dormant?


The preposition über (pay attention to the umlaut!) governs dative case if and only if we are talking about a position above something (for example: Das Bild hängt über dem Spiegel. “The picture is hanging above the mirror.”). In all other usages its noun has to be in accusative case.


This is a riot! I translated this sentence beginning with the word "that" just five minutes ago. Duo said it was wrong, that the word should be "this." So, this time, I used the word "this" and Duo said that the alternative translation starts with "that," and yet he marked "that" wrong five minutes ago! Go figure!


What's wrong with this -

Das ist alles, was ich von ihm weiß


Das ist alles, was ich von ihm weiß

What's wrong with the above?


Colloquially that should be accepted if you ask me. Be aware though that using von makes the sentence ambiguous because then it could also mean “That is all I know from him.”

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