I've learned that dies- can mean this or that, whereas jen- can also mean that.

When should jen- be used in preference to dies-?


The demonstrative pronouns dieser/diese/diese and jener/jene/jenes are used as demonstrative articles, as stand alone words or as a substitute for a noun.

dies- refers to something that is spatially or temporally closer.

jene- points to something that is spatially or temporally distant.


Dieser Baum, vor dem ich stehe, ist sehr hoch.

Das Restaurant in diesem Ort ist besser als jenes in Berlin.

Ich bevorzuge dieses Essen gegenüber jenem von gestern.

Diese Frau, mit der ich gerade telefoniert habe, ruft jeden Tag an.

Ich hatte jene Frau, die wir gestern getroffen haben, vorher nicht gekannt.

There are also some derived adverbs:

  • diesseits: on this side
  • jenseits: on the other side

The noun das Diesseits means our world/life, while das Jenseits means "afterlife."

  • 12
    I also find it worth noting that "jene/-r/-s" sounds rather formal and is rarely used in spoken German. This is not the case with "jenseits".
    – elena
    Nov 30 '11 at 14:33
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    +1 to splattne for the concise answer and to elena for the addition. "Jene/-r/-s" are now so rarely used that in many cases its presence can in some cases serve as an indicator that a text is a translation, where the translator sticks too close to the source. (Incidentally, the same is true for "welche/-r/-s", where "der/die/das" is much more common.)
    – Mac
    Nov 30 '11 at 14:50
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    @Mac, @elena, whether jen- is no longer used in spoken German was actually one of the important points of my question (which I unfortunately failed to emphasize). Thanks for the clarifications! Nov 30 '11 at 17:23
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    @Matt It's universally understood and still used in more formal circumstances (even in spoken language), maybe kind of like the correct subjunctive in english (I wish I were rich). It all depends on the setting and company you're in. Use (usage?) in written language is no problem at all.
    – fzwo
    Nov 30 '11 at 20:48
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    @Matt I don't really have enough meaningful information to add that isn't already in splattne's excellent answer to merit a whole new answer. But I'll be glad to answer questions in the comments, if you have any.
    – fzwo
    Nov 30 '11 at 23:02

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