Saturday, 22 August 2009

Relative Pronouns 2

This podcast covers relative pronouns after prepositions and some other special cases.

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, click here.


Anonymous said...

hi Laura.
the version of this podcast which I downloaded through iTunes reverted to the start after the first 1:20 or so. Just thought I'd bring it to your attention. Otherwise, a great podcast as usual. Thanks!

mlv said...

I'm glad you are still creating your podcast. I find it very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hello Laura,
I couldnt find your email address so hope you find my message here. I am finding your grammar pods so helpful, I only started listening a few weeks ago, so have a lot to catch up on! Anyway, I moved to switzerkand 5 years ago and have found learning German a nightmare. I managed to pass my B1 exam, but realised I was missing some serious understanding of basic grammar (i was bit flukey with the exam) and that in real life couldn't use the German to the level my exam said I should be. I have decided to go back through all the grammar basics with much help from this podcast. Thankyou very much for making this it is well apreciated. I especialy appreciate the explanations given in English. This is extremely helpful to work out exactly how the German corresponds or not.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Kind regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Laura:
Thank you for your fine work. I hope you can offer some advice. I have been studying German about 1 1/2 years. Very hard but all on my own as I am a military person and can't take formal classes. I have done Rosetta versions 2 and 3 and completed intermediate Pimsler. Still, I am very dissatisfied. If I try to listen to the slow version by DW of the news, I still only understand about 1/2.
Where should I go next? I also paid for and downloaded germanpod101 but that was a total waste of money.

I hope you can offer some advice.

Warm Regards


Laura said...

Hi Bill,

It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things and are progressing well. Learning languages takes a long time because there is so much to learn. However, every time you get exposure to German it will help you progress - even if it doesn't feel like it at the time. I like to learn new languages from several different sources at a time. The trick is to find the ones you find most enjoyable or can fit most easily into your lifestyle, as that way you'll spend more time using the language source. For instance, I was a particular fan of watching Unsere Kleine Farm (Little House on the Prarie in German) when I lived in Germany. You might be able to get something similar on Youtube (I find family dramas tend to use particularly good vocab for intermediate learners - although an appratently simple show can easily turn out to be surprisingly linguistically complex, so it may pay to try quite a few out till you find the best fit for you). German magazines or websites should also be good for reading practice.

German GrammarPod and courses like Rosetta Stone will give you structure and grammar. Any form of entertainment in German will help build your vocabulary.

If you're not learning in a class, ideally you could do with some conversation practice too. As a native English speaker, your language skills will be in demand. Perhaps you can find a native German speaker with whom you can exchange conversation practice in English for conversation practice in German (either in person or via the Internet, perhaps through Skype for instance).

Hope that helps.


Bill said...

Miss Laura:
That was unbelievable. You spent so much time answering my question. All of us that listen to your podcasts, realize what a quality teacher and person you are.
Thank you.


Unknown said...

I just started using your podcasts. I am amazed at your smooth delivery and the methodology. I am a native Polish speaker who has lived in the US for a long time. I totally agree with your philosophy of using grammar in teaching a new language. I speak Polish (native tongue), Russian and English and I am learning German on my own. I have taken Italian long time ago but lost all of it over time. My wife teaches Spanish and we often discuss how teaching languages have been dumbed down by leaving out grammar. Her high school, unlike most others, uses grammar as a way to explain structures and rules of the language and they get much better results than other high schools. I do not believe in overwhelming stressed out students with force feeding them grammar but, as you yourself say, I like making logical, conscious choices as to where one shall spend most of the time learning the new language and how to use all available shortcuts.
Love your method!!!! and your great podcasts!
Jerry Gidaszewski

Dave said...

Hi Laura,
I came across this sentence in a book I'm reading -
» Kendarias Mann war ein Cousin des Königs, und sie lebten bei seinem älteren Bruder und dessen Familie. «. I've just finished listening to your excellent podcasts about relative pronouns where you explain the use of the genitive. I realise that the above "dessen" is not a relative pronoun but I hoped that you or another of your listeners might explain its use in this context for me.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave!

"dessen" is a demonstrative pronoun here (see ), which is used as a possessive article here, i.e. it just means "his". You could also write: "Kendarias Mann war ein Cousin des Königs, und sie lebten bei seinem älteren Bruder und seiner Familie."

However, there is a difference. If "dessen" is used as a possessive article, it cannot refer to the subject of the sentence. Thus, "dessen" cannot refer to "Kendarias Mann" (who is the subject of the previous sentence and part of the subject ("sie") of the actual sentence). Moreover, it is usually understood that it refers to the most recently mentioned person that it can refer to, here: "seinem älteren Bruder". Thus, by using "dessen" the author clarifies whose family he is talking about (neither the family of Kendaria's husband, nor the family of the king, but the family of the older brother of Kendaria's husband).

I found an explanation of this in the German "Duden Band 4 - Die Grammatik", 7th edition, section, paragraph 375 on pages 290 and 291. The relevant examples are: "Susanne verabschiedete sich von Paul und dessen größerem / seinem größeren Bruder."; "Otto fand dessen Schlüssel." (the key of someone else); "Otto fand seinen Schlüssel." (the key of Otto or of someone else); "Er traf ihn mit seinem Freund und dessen Sohn." (the son of his friend; "seinem Sohn" could refer to the friend or to "ihn").


Dave said...

Hi Martin,
Many thanks for your explanation. I had not come across this usage before but your explanation makes it very clear how it's used. Would this form be used in Alltagsdeutsch or just in formal texts?


Anonymous said...


good question. I don't think of it as particular formal; thus, I guess you could find it in all kinds of written texts.

I assume it is a lot less common in spoken German because you only need it to resolve an ambiguity that arises when you are talking about two different persons of different gender in the 3rd person in the same sentence. And that's rather unlikely in spoken German because 1st and 2nd person are more frequently used in spoken German and sentences tend to be shorter. Apart from this, many speakers might not bother to resolve the ambiguity in particular if they are referring to the most recently mentioned person (as in the example).

Another reason why you find "dessen" (and the feminine form "deren") more often in formal texts is probably that it is used in formal texts even if there is no ambiguity: "Sie sah ihren Freund und dessen Sohn." instead of "Sie sah ihren Freund und seinen Sohn." There is no ambiguity in the second sentence because the gender of the subject is feminine but "seinen" refers to a masculine person. In this case I think I would prefer "seinen" in spoken German and informal written texts but might use "dessen" in more formal texts.


Dave said...

Thanks again Martin. Your explanation was very helpful and clear.

Wieder vielen Dank Martin. Ihre Erklärung war sehr hilfreich und klar.

Beste Grüße

Unknown said...

Thank you for all the lessons that you give. I also practice to speak polish through skype at and your lessons has been helpful.

Eaalim said...

Great blog, Thanks.

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