Which of the following has the proper syntax?

Ein Mörder er ist!

Ein Mörder ist er!

Er ist ein Mörder!

4 Answers 4


The first is wrong. That's something Yoda would say.

The other two are correct. You'd use the second one if you want to emphasize that he's a murderer as opposed to, say, a nice guy.


The first one is not correct, at least not in conversations nowadays.

If it's from a medieval context or similar, that might be appropriate to use. "Herr, ein Mörder er ist, wisset darum!" I am not sure how this kind of speech is called, it's an overformalized way, bards or heralds would've used it I think.

  • Sehet, wie gut ihm diese Antwort gelungen ist! Seems like the language of the Jedi was inspired by this...
    – Hauser
    Aug 7, 2011 at 11:48
  • 2
    @Hauser. No Yoda would say: Seht, wie gut diese Antwort gelungen ihm ist.
    – bernd_k
    Aug 7, 2011 at 12:28
  • @bernd lol right, i referred it to the general Jedi. Afaik only Yoda uses this abnormal syntax(?), the other Jedis and medieveal Knights in movies use this 3rd Person stlye to speak in dialogues. Quite funny when they court a woman :)
    – Hauser
    Aug 7, 2011 at 15:10
  • @bernd_k I would expect to hear "Sehet, wie gelungen Ihm ist gut diese Antwort!" from Yoda... Apr 22, 2015 at 0:46

The first case is not too uncommon as a special for of topicalisation, although it is rather used with a definite article and possibly with punctuation markers between the topic and its pronoun. Ie. you could say

Der Axtmörder, er ist wieder da.

Another example from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topikalisierung:

Das Buch, das lese ich bestimmt nochmal.

Similar, but this time not with the subject but with the accusative object. (Note the obligatory use of das instead of a pronoun as accusative es may not precede a finite verb: ‘*es lese ich bestimmt nochmal.’)

There is a thread which discusses its use in an article of Der Spiegel:

Der Vater der drei jüngsten Brüder – er brach schluchzend zusammen.

I this thread, the construction is also more specifically referred to as casus pendens. A google search reveals that it is rather common in bible translations as it seems to be a rather common language feature of (biblical?) hebrew and other semitic languages.


The first form is incorret. The finite verb is always at the second position in a German sentence. Usually the first position is obtained by the subject, although it can also be another part of the sentence to emphasise that part. Then the subject is positioned right after the finite verb.

@Debilski: Your reasoning is not correct - just look at your examples: those are parataxises with the "topic part" being ellipsises.

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