I am trying to understand the highlighted phrase from this 1844 translation of Candide by Voltaire.

»Es ist erwiesen,« sagte er, »dass die Dinge nicht anders sein können: denn da Alles zu einem Zweck geschaffen worden, ist Alles notwendigerweise zum denkbar besten Zweck in der Welt. Bemerken Sie wohl, dass die Nasen geschaffen wurden, um den Brillen als Unterlage zu dienen, und so tragen wir denn auch Brillen. . . .


  1. Is Alles zu einem Zweck geschaffen worden an absolute construction?

  2. Would Alles zu einem Zweck geschaffen (i.e. without worden) be grammatical or ungrammatical? (In English one would say, "The work done, he took the rest of the afternoon off," not "The work been done, . . .")

  3. If both expressions, i.e. with and without worden, are grammatical when would one prefer to use the one to the other?

  4. Is da an adverb? (Had an ist followed worden giving us da Alles zu einem Zweck geschaffen worden ist, ist . . . I would have thought da was a conjunction and not had questions 5 and 6.)

  5. What is the semantic contribution of da to the denn-clause?

  6. Would the denn-clause be grammatical if da were not there?


The original text does not appear to have anything corresponding to da.

« Il est démontré, disait-il, que les choses ne peuvent être autrement ; car tout étant fait pour une fin, tout est nécessairement pour la meilleure fin. Remarquez bien que les nez ont été faits pour porter des lunettes ; aussi avons-nous des lunettes. . . .

  • 3
    A repeated ist has been combined into one; the full form would be … geschaffen worden ist, ist …. Does that help?
    – chirlu
    Jan 2, 2016 at 8:04
  • @chirlu Oh yes, very much. That actually takes care of all questions, 1 through 6. Thank you.
    – Catomic
    Jan 2, 2016 at 12:48
  • I still finished the more elaborate answer I was writing. :-) I now think it is less about combining the two ist as I thought at first, but rather that it was generally possible to drop a clause-final auxiliary. I’m not completely sure about the historical rules, though.
    – chirlu
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:00
  • "Dropping a clause-final auxiliary" is indeed very concrete, and now I know what to look out for. Thanks again!
    – Catomic
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:04
  • 2
    @userunknown Nein, es geht um Deutsch. Catomic versucht, den Satz der deutschen Übersetzung in seine Einzelteile zu zerlegen und den Sinn eines jeden Einzelteils zu erfassen. Dass er sich dabei am Anfang getäuscht hat, ändert nichts an der Tatsache. Und seine Fragengeschichte hier besteht fast ausschließlich aus dieser Sorte Fragen, ist also nichts ungewöhnliches.
    – Jan
    Jan 3, 2016 at 0:43

1 Answer 1


There is no absolute construction here. Instead, the bolded part is a subordinate clause in which the finite verb, the auxiliary ist, has been omitted. I don’t think any modern writer would do this (except when deliberately trying to sound old-fashioned), but it was very common in the old days. It is not inconceivable that worden could be dropped, too, but that would be far more unusual.

Consequently, da is indeed the conjunction that introduces the subordinate clause. The da clause justifies the statement in the main clause (the denn clause), which in turn justifies the statement of the preceding sentence. Or at least that is the intention of the person speaking. :-)

The part corresponding to the da clause in the French original is the participle construction tout étant fait pour une fin.

  • From your comment: "generally possible to drop a clause-final auxiliary." - Does this "general possibility" also explain the missing finite auxiliaries in these lines from Schiller: "Deine Zauber binden wieder, was der Mode Schwerd getheilt.... Wem der große Wurf gelungen, eines Freundes Freund zu seyn; wer ein holdes Weib errungen, mische seinen Jubel ein!"
    – Catomic
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:19
  • @Catomic: Yes, I think so.
    – chirlu
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:52

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