Forgive me if this question is too broad.

I think I fairly well understand what goes into a clause. But the relationship between clauses makes very little sense to me. I hope I can quote Wikipedia, which when talking about Karoline Herfurth says:

International bekannt wurde sie 2006 durch die Rolle des Mirabellenmädchens in Tom Tykwers Großproduktion Das Parfum – Die Geschichte eines Mörders, von der Der Spiegel schrieb: „nicht wenige behaupten, dass ihr Auftritt als Mirabellen-Mädchen, das beim Helden Grenouille ein Trauma und seine Mordslust auf junge Mädchen auslöst, die zehn Minuten sind, an die sich der Zuschauer nach 147 Minuten Großkunst am liebsten erinnern wird.“

Let's number the clauses I care about:

  1. nicht wenige behaupten
  2. dass ihr Auftritt als Mirabellen-Mädchen
  3. das beim Helden Grenouille ein Trauma und seine Mordslust auf junge Mädchen auslöst
  4. die zehn Minuten sind
  5. an die sich der Zuschauer nach 147 Minuten Großkunst am liebsten erinnern wird

I don't get how clause 4 can be attached to anything. Maybe the murders? It seems logical to be attached to the appearance of Mirabellen-Mädchen, but that doesn't make any sense because "sind" is used. Although, then again, "sind" could apply to zehn Minuten. But then what on earth is it doing in the sentence? And clause 5 could refer to 2 or 3. I think I can reasonably assume it refers to 2. But maybe it's just referring to the ten minutes (which then indirectly refers back to the appearance).

AUGH I'm so confused. What hooks to what?

And since I can't understand what clause hooks to what, I am obviously going to get really confused with relative clauses when "die" could refer to any earlier clause which built a feminine or plural noun.

And this is just a concrete example. If I understand this example, I'll be satisfied for a night. But I would like to be forever satisfied and always be able to discern what clause refers to another clause, and when two clauses are actually just one clause broken up by others in the middle.

1 Answer 1


Clause 4 in fact hooks to clause 2, despite the "sind". Without clauses 1 and 3, it would be:

Ihr Auftritt sind die[jenigen] zehn Minuten, an die sich der Zuschauer ... erinnern wird.

So, the problem ist that "Auftritt" is singular, but it's synomymous with "die zehn Minuten" (plural). This is grammatically correct, since, in cases of equalization [i'm not sure if equalization is the correct noun to translate "Gleichsetzung"...] of a singular noun and a plural noun, the verb adapts to the plural noun. Canoo.net has a nice example:

Mein größter Besitz sind meine Kinder.

Here, we have two nouns: "Besitz" (singular) and "Kinder" (plural): for the verb, you'll have to use the plural. "Mein größter Besitz ist meine Kinder" would be grammatically wrong.

The Duden gives a similar example:

Diese Sachen sind mein einziger Besitz.

Here, again, we have two nouns with different grammatical number; the verb has to use plural.

I think it's the same in English:

Those things are my sole property.

  • Thanks. That helps. Hopefully I get better at figuring this stuff out. Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 19:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.