I once asked a question if the sentence

jeder muss dafür verantwortlich sein, was er gesagt hat

is correct and was told that it is acceptable and that the verb must go at the end of its own clause before any subordinate clause.

However, I was also told by a native speaker that this sentence could also be enclosed by one, like

Jeder muss für das, was er gesagt hat, verantwortlich sein.


Jeder ist für das, was er gesagt hat, verantwortlich.

I just wonder that in the first sentence above the verb 'sein' goes to the end of the entire sentence after the subordinate clause. It really annoys me how should I correctly build the German main clause and subordinate clause and is there a rule I can follow? And

Take the following sentences.

  1. Sobald ich Zeit habe, werde ich dir helfen.
  2. Ich werde dir helfen, sobald ich Zeit habe.
  3. Ich werde dir, sobald ich Zeit habe, helfen.

I can understand the first two sentences well but I still get confused by the third one.

  • 1
    Considering the title of your question I would vote for close as this asks for the same as already asked before. However, the body describes something else, namely the word order or rather the position of a verb. And this has nothing to do with the relative clause. At all. – "Jeder muss für das Gesagte verantwortlich sein." - "Jeder ist für das Gesagte verantwortlich." – And this is a very fundamental topic which is addressed in every textbook or grammar book and I'm sure there are many questions on this site here, too.
    – Em1
    Nov 18, 2014 at 13:47
  • I do not have time for a full answer, but the "dafür" in the first sentence is wrong and should be "für das". And the natural position of the relative clause is after the "das", it is only for simplicity that it can be deferred to the end.
    – Carsten S
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:30
  • "Jeder muss für das, was er gesagt hat, verantwortlich sein." implies that currently it isn't usual to be responsive for what is said - a state that has to be changed. "Jeder ist für das, was er gesagt hat, verantwortlich." implies that it is completly usual to be responsive what is said.
    – user22338
    Jul 7, 2016 at 8:15

5 Answers 5


Concerning "Jeder ist für das, was er gesagt hat, verantwortlich.":

Think about the "das, was er gesagt hat" as a noun. The whole phrase can be used anywhere a noun is used. It's called a noun phrase.


Das Auto gefällt mir nicht.

can be replaced with

Das, was er gesagt hat, gefällt mir nicht.


Mir gefällt das Auto nicht.

can be replaced with

Mir gefällt das, was er gesagt hat, nicht.


Hast du das Auto nicht gehört?

can be replaced with

Hast du das, was er gesagt hat, nicht gehört?


Was hat dir gut gefallen? – Das Auto.

can be replaced with

Was hat dir gut gefallen? – Das, was er gesagt hat.

Concerning "Ich werde dir, sobald ich Zeit habe, helfen.":

Think about the whole sentence "sobald ich Zeit habe" as an adverb (of time). The whole sentence can be used anywhere an adverb is used. It's called an adverbial phrase.

Ich komme morgen nach Hause.

can be replaced with

Ich komme sobald ich Zeit habe nach Hause.


Morgen komme ich nach Hause.

can be replaced with

Sobald ich Zeit habe, komme ich nach Hause.


Erst um 15 Uhr komme ich nach Hause.

can be replaced with

Erst sobald ich Zeit habe, komme ich nach Hause.


Wann kommst du? – Morgen.

can be replaced with

Wann kommst du? – Sobald ich Zeit habe.


Don't let the third sentence type confuse you. The subordinate clause is an insertion and the outer sentence structure is not changed by it. The normal sentences would be

Jeder ist für das verantwortlich.

Ich werde dir helfen.

The conjugated verb is at the second position as usual. The tricky part is were to insert the subordinate clauses. In the first example right after the part that is restricted by it. In the second example I would assume it is inserted behind the object.

However, there are dependent subordinate clauses which work differently.


Let me take your last sentences to tell you my opinion:

Sobald ich Zeit habe, werde ich dir helfen.
Ich werde dir helfen, sobald ich Zeit habe.
Ich werde dir, sobald ich Zeit habe, helfen.

The second sentence is the most common to use, I guess, followed by the first and then the third. Personally, I wouldn’t use the third one and I think no German do so in spoken language. I would only use a sentence like the third one when writing a text or similar, but even then extremely rarely.

I am a native speaker of German, but as I said all of this is just my opinion. But all of these sentences are grammatically correct.

  • Kein Argument, das du bringen kannst, wird mich überzeugen is an example of a sentence that could well be used in a real-life conversation. In that case, Kein Argument wird mich überzeugen, das du bringen kannst would sound strange. The third sentence is just a template for a sentence construction that is also used in spoken German - just not the exact example provided in the question. Nov 18, 2014 at 13:59
  • Yes. You are right. The second one is really strange.
    – HansMu158
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:01
  • 1
    The difference being that in the OP's example, the dependent sentence modifies the entire primary sentence, while in Thorsten's, it modifies the subject ("kein Argument"). Nov 18, 2014 at 17:20
  • @SebastianRedl You are correct about that. Take the following: Du kannst, falls das Wetter so bleibt, nachher nochmal raus! This is what I tell my daughter frequently ;-) Nov 19, 2014 at 8:56

Maybe this is also a matter of emphasis. When arguing with someone you sometimes want to point out something in particular.

"Kein Argument, das du nennen kannst, wird mich überzeugen" (nice example, thank you)

"Kein Argument (of all arguments in the world), das du nennen kannst (pointing at the person directly), wird mich überzeugen." So we doubt the other person will bring something useful forward, in gerenal.

On the oher hand

"Mich wird kein Argument, das du nennen kannst, überzeugen."

seems to imply that the other person actually is capable of telling something useful. But anyway, no matter what it is (if good or bad) it won't convince me. So the sentence in the middle is more like some extra information.

Well, emphasis is slightly subjective sometimes but I hope this helps :)


Actually, all of the above are correct. Especially the last three examples are all correct. You are safe using your first example - the one you came up with yourself.

If you want to read about subordinate clauses in German, go to the following page: http://www.mein-deutschbuch.de/lernen.php?menu_id=123

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