Struggling with Relative Clauses in German? Then read this

To some students, relative clauses in German are almost as mysterious as Einstein's theory of relativity. And yet, when you have a good understanding of the cases, prepositions, and word order in subordinate clauses, then it is not a big leap to understand how to use relative clauses in the language. Let me teach you why.

Relative clauses combine what you have learned about the cases and prepositions with the word order in a subordinate clause because relative clauses are a particular type of subordinate clause, namely one that seeks to provide further information about a noun. The key is to concentrate on the case of the noun which you're trying to describe within your relative clause.

As the table shows, relative clauses combine two separate sentences and omit the noun which they are seeking to describe. Whenever you get confused on what your relative pronoun should be, just look at your relative clause in isolation, turn it back into the normal word order of a main clause and check which article you would give the noun. Watch out for the three exceptions, though. Dessen for masculine and neuter Genitive, deren for feminine and plural Genitive, and denen for Dative plural.

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