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Meaning of "Diese Haushaltsgeräte haben meine Eltern" using grammar

The sentence "Diese Haushaltsgeräte haben meine Eltern" logically means "My parents have these home appliances" and not "These home appliances have my parents" (unless it's a science fiction comedy/horror movie :-D). Having said this, is there a grammatical hint that tells us "meine Eltern" are the subject even though they are placed last in the sentence? "Meine Eltern" would be written the same in the nominative and accusative case, so would "Diese Haushaltsgeräte", right?

May 15, 2012



There is no grammatical way to tell the subject in this sentence, it is left to context (and common sense) to decide who the subject it.

You are correct that these could be reversed and the sentence would have the same meaning(s).


To be honest, when I get a question like, to translate "All cats are cats", I wouldn't be surprised if the household appliances owned the parents...


Have you seen this one: "Is that your hat or your wife?" lol.


Exactly. I hope they did that on purpose


Haha, this just cracked me up!


Alright. Thank you for the confirmation :)


The German language is a lot more flexible than english, because of the cases. To illustrate, both "Der Hund beißt den Mann" and "Den Mann beißt der Hund" means "The dog bites the man". The subject is in nominative, and the object is in accusative in both sentences. The difference is the focus, in the first sentence the focus is on the dog, but in the second the focus is on the man. This could be used to clarify or answer questions, for example, "Wen der Hund beißt?" (Whom is the dog biting?) "Den Mann beißt der Hund" (The man [is the one who] the dog is biting). This difference is more noticeable when the parts are masculine, like in my example, but in your sentence, both the subject and object are plural, and plural doesn't change when is in accusative, but logic dictates that is the parents who own the appliances, and surely the sentence is build this way to focus on the appliances.

PS. Sorry for the wall of text, I just wanted to explain clearly WHY is that some sencences follow this structure


My parents have these appliances

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