6

I have a German sentence. The whole sentence is:

'Nach seiner Inhaftierung beginnt er, seinen Plan in die Tat umzusetzen, was sich jedoch als schwieriger herausstellt als urspünglich geplant'.

I believe that 'was' is a relative pronoun translating to English 'which'.

Whats the purpose and meaning of using 'als ... als' twice in this sentence?

  • As you can see from Hubert Schölnast's answer, the two "als" don't belong together but are a part of different constructions: "sich als etwas herausstellen" = "to shape up as sth." - "schwieriger als" = "more difficult than" – Chris Dec 16 '14 at 16:08
  • If you want to avoid the second als, you could use the synonymous expression sich gestalten: "…, was sich jedoch schwieriger gestaltet als ursprünglich geplant". This would sound slightly better, but it's also absolutely okay to leave the sentence as it is. – Œlrim Dec 16 '14 at 19:40
2

"Als" has three different functions:

  • introduce a side clause about a past event
  • coordinate comparisons that look at "inequality"
  • "assign" roles

Here's an example for each:

Als ich Kind war,...
When I was a kid...

Sie ist schlauer als ich.
She is smarter than me/I.

Als Präsident Koch ist er gut, als Kellner nicht.
He's good as a cook but not as a waiter. (semi-literal)

The first "als" in your sentence, though not immediately obvious, is assigning a role. The second one is a classical comparison.

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1

Original German sentence:

Nach seiner Inhaftierung beginnt er, seinen Plan in die Tat umzusetzen, was sich jedoch als schwieriger herausstellt als urspünglich geplant.

English translation:

After his arrest he begins to implement his plan, which turns out to be harder than planed originally.

this might help:

etwas stellt sich als etwas (anderes) heraus = something turn out to be something (different)
anders sein als geplant = to be different than planned

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I'm from Germany. In this sentence, you can't use "als" twice. It has to be

Nach seiner Inhaftierung beginnt er, seinen Plan in die Tat umzusetzen, was sich jedoch schwieriger herausstellt als ursprünglich geplant.

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  • 3
    I disagree. I would correct this sentence to »... was sich jedoch als schwieriger herausstellt als ursprünglich geplant.« – Hubert Schölnast Dec 16 '14 at 15:48
  • Duplicate 'als' like this is syntactically 100% fine. Euphony, however, considers the effect unharmonious and disprefers it. Whether the resulting structure is 'right' or 'wrong' therefore depends on which principle is more important. In a legal document, syntax is way more important. In a poem, euphony usually is more important. – Kilian Foth Dec 17 '14 at 9:28

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