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

Translation:That is all I know about him.

March 24, 2013

74 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dror.Schafer

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/notapolarbear

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hutcho66

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joffen1

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/muhaaas

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TobyBartels

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lai_mesunda

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neptunium

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuiRocha

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fof017

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jalmaguer

Why is ihn written in the accusative here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/qwertyasdf

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jalmaguer

To me it seems like it should be dative


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafaa.

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuisCasseres96

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Baudouin440236

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Javirk

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/heliod-

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Will709432

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ACardAttack

Why is the word "was" needed?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TobyBartels

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ACardAttack

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cathyr19355

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2831

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AHolik

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2831

@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/
http://german.about.com/library/anfang/blanfang16.htm


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sokplaya

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slug-lord

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2831

Yes. Yes.
I don't know what to say regarding your third question.
2014.09.18


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuisCasseres96

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neptunium

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuisCasseres96

Thank you very much. Es ist klar jetzt


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Benjaminyi

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 ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zackpunk

I believe subordinate clauses must always end with the verb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beagoodone

'to know' is to turn on a lamp,

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

What a beautiful language the German has


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NijatGasimov

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joffen1

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Susan242221

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

https://www.vistawide.com/german/grammar/german_verb_prep_idioms.htm


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/loveirobert

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/moore.scott24

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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slug-lord

'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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/antonella21

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JefeBezos3

Great discussion


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/3_toed_sloth

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!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ariana813975

Why is the sentence in acussative.?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnneMaxwel4

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wassaketch

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Edrika

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/moore.scott24

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sVz199Aa

Could anyone kindly explain why accusative case is used here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pradipbasak

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DamienBrittan

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Avery_Eubanks

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WileyHolli2

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheJester666

as always, duolingo didn't explain


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YaqootKhan

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/violinda41

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salgsalg

What's wrong with this -

Das ist alles, was ich von ihm weiß


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salgsalg

Das ist alles, was ich von ihm weiß

What's wrong with the above?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

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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