I am trying to understand more and more how the particle es works. I know that sometimes when the subject is not completely explicit, or when there is none, then I am supposed to use es. I am not really comfortable with using this particle, as I am never sure how to.

For example, is es necessary in the following sentence? Or could I omit it and nothing would change?

Troja hat es wirklich gegeben


In your example, you can not leave out the es.

Troja hat wirklich gegeben

is not a "complete" sentence.

It is a reordered version of

Es hat Troja wirklich gegeben

and you can not leave the es out here either. This is because Troja in this example is not the subject of the sentence, but really an accusative object. This is different to

Troja hat wirklich existiert

where Troja is really the subject of the sentence.

It is a bit like asking whether you can omit the there in

There was a time when I spoke no German at all

Maybe the problem is the difference between the English an German way of saying it. In English you'd say:

Troja really existed

which would translate to

Troja existierte wirklich (or more colloquially: Troja hat wirklich existiert)

In this case, Troja is the subject of the sentence.

The German

Troja hat es wirklich gegeben

would translate to

There really was Troja

which nobody would say in English, but the expressions are equivalent.

  • I don´t really understand why Troja is not the subject in the first sentence. What kind of verb usage it that? – E.V. Jan 27 '15 at 16:55
  • 2
    Well, the basic expression is es gibt (there is). es is the subject. We then put it in past tense: es gab. The next question is es gab wen oder was?", because *es gab is not a complete sentence, really. The answer to this might be "Troja", so "Troja" really in accusative case: es gab Troja. To put emphasis on the fact that it existed in reality, you add wirklich (really), and you end up with es gab Troja wirklich. – Thorsten Dittmar Jan 27 '15 at 16:58
  • Maybe this can help: nthuleen.com/102/hausaufgaben/explnomakkdat.html – Thorsten Dittmar Jan 27 '15 at 16:59

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