Gauß kam auf den Zufall zu sprechen, den Feind allen Wissens, den er immer habe besiegen wollen. Aus der Nähe betrachtet, sehe man hinter jedem Ereignis die unendliche Feinheit des Kausalgewebes. Trete man weit genug zurück, offenbarten sich die großen Muster.

Above is a quote from die Vermessung der Welt, and according to the rule of reported speech:

If the forms of the indicative and the subjunctive I are identical, the subjunctive II or the forms with würde are preferred. (link)

The usage of offenbarten instead of offenbaren fits this rule. However, the word betrachtet is also identical as its indicative form. Why doesn't the author use betrachtetet instead?

  • 2
    The comma after “betrachtet” seems wrong to me. Is it really in your source text?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 14:12
  • @CarstenS yes, that comma is correct, I believe it means "viewed from up close, one could detect the infinite fineness of the web of causality behind every event." Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 14:16
  • 2
    I understand the meaning, and I still think that the comma is wrong. That there is a comma in the English translation is not relevant. But I see that it is in the original.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


In the quote, "aus der Nähe betrachtet" is a participle clause. I.e. betrachtet isn't the indicative of betrachten, but the perfect participle. The clause is used as an adverb to sehen in the clause that follows. It remains unchanged in reported speech.

  • Thanks for the answer! Otherwise I wouldn't realize that I looked at the totally wrong direction. Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 12:35

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