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He looks down on people that he is better than.

How do I say this sentence in German?
By the way, should the word that be relative pronoun or subordinate conjunction?

  • Does it mean the same as "He looks down on people who are worse than him." ? – Iris Apr 28 '16 at 6:35
  • Yes, it could be understood in that way too – user21455 Apr 28 '16 at 6:51
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    I don't think this question is offtopic - the OP asks for a non-trivial grammatical case. – Barth Zalewski Apr 28 '16 at 10:44
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    Isn't the English sentence already questionable? – Chieron Apr 28 '16 at 14:56
  • Genauso gut wäre eine Frage: How to say in German He is not somebody I'd go out with und ob es richtig wäre zu sagen Er ist nicht jemand, der ich ausgehen würde mit. (nebenbei: ist nicht richtig). Und das "that / als" macht die Sache noch pikanter. – Barth Zalewski Apr 29 '16 at 8:48
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You cannot translate that to Er schaut auf jene herab, die er besser als ist - it's not grammatical.

One might translate that to Er schaut auf jene herab, die schlechter sind als er. but I'm afraid that this would slightly change the meaning - while you can say "besser" to indicate a general superiority (higher social status, better educated, richer, more powerful etc.), the opposite "schlechter" usually has a narrow meaning, e.g. the expected or eventual ranking at a contest.

My proposal would be: Er schaut auf jene herab, denen er überlegen ist. or Er schaut auf jene herab, die ihm unterlegen sind.

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I think it depends on the original meaning of the English sentence. If it refers to the social or professional status, I would translate it like that: Er schaut auf jene herab, die unter ihm stehen. (in German, unter jemandem stehen is a common phrase to express social or professional status differences, besides the usual meaning of designating where an object is in relation to other objects).

If the English sentence refers to concrete skills (e.g. in sports, maths and the like), I would translate it like that: Er schaut auf jene herab, denen er überlegen ist.

  • Er schaut auf jene herab, die unter ihm stehen. this makes sense even in a purely topographical point of view ;-) – ammoQ Apr 28 '16 at 8:54
  • You are right, I should have mentioned this; answer edited. – Binarus Apr 28 '16 at 10:24

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