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(a) Das ist nichts, auf das man stolz sein sollte.

(b) Das ist nichts, auf was man stolz sein sollte.

(c) Das ist nichts, worauf man stolz sein sollte.

Which ones are acceptable, and what are the differences?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In colloquial language, you'll probably encounter all three (with no difference in meaning), but (c) is my guess for the canonical version.

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Shouldn't that be "Das is nichts, darauf man stoltz sein sollte" ? –  karoshi Oct 18 '13 at 14:51
    
No, but you'd say Darauf sollte man nicht stolz sein. Just be aware that those are fighting words, whereas the original is a mild rebuke or self-deprecatory. –  divby0 Oct 18 '13 at 15:30
    
I thought the wo* compounds were only for questions. I'll try to search for more information to correct my misunderstanding. –  karoshi Oct 18 '13 at 15:44
    
This relates to another recent question. For sure, wo- isn't used for questions only. Think 'whereby', which can be used to form a question or to make a declaration. –  divby0 Oct 18 '13 at 19:05
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In addition to the other answer, some further notes:

This is more generic and is not restricted to "nichts".

Worauf[or Auf was] wartest du noch?
Worauf[or Auf was] stehst du? (true for both spatial and figurative uses)
Worauf[or Auf was] es an kommt?

That said, there are still phrases where it would sound a little odd to use "auf was", for instance:

Worauf du dich verlassen kannst.

Though, admittedly, when rephrasing the sentence you, again, can use both variants:

Darauf[or Auf das] kannst du dich verlassen.

Still, remember it's colloquialism and you would be well-advised to go with worauf when being uncertain.

Finally a note on whether to go with "auf das" or "auf was".
There's a rule of thumb to take was instead of das after demonstrative pronouns, e.g.:

Das, was du hier siehst...

So, regarding the rule of thumb you would definitely say

Das, auf was ich stolz bin...

In the sentence "Das ist nichts, ..." it sounds OK to use das, though. And indeed it has more Google hits. I'm not sure why you rather take the relative pronoun das in that case.

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