What is the standard grammatical term for the dass-clause in the following constructions?

  • glauben, dass P
  • jemanden überzeugen, dass P

The account might look like:

  • The dass-clause is the X of glauben.
  • The dass-clause is the X and the Jemanden the Y of überzeugen.

on the model of:

  • In to believe that P, the that-clause is the direct object of believe.
  • In to convince him that P, the that-clause is the direct and him the indirect object of convince.


German grammar does not seem to use the "directness" terminology all that much, at least not when the cases would do the job. For example, a dictionary may say that sich in a reflexive verb was in the accusative or dative, not that it was the direct or indirect object.

But in relating a dass-clause to a verb such as glauben or überzeugen, do we still use the concept of case? For example, do we assign a case to the dass-clause? (Strictly speaking, assigning a case may not relate something to a verb.)

Or do we use the "directness" terminology to say that a dass-clause was the direct or indirect object of glauben or überzeugen?

Or is there some wholly new terminology?

If überzeugen followed the model of convince I imagine jemanden would end up being accusative and indirect.

I don't care if what I said above on English grammar is right or wrong because it is only there as an example. But see this Web page in case you wonder.

Please feel free to answer in German or refer me to a reference page in German.

1 Answer 1


Forget about direct and indirect objects when it comes to German, please.

The reason why English grammar insists on the "that-clause" being an object is the English top-priority rule no indirect object without a direct object. So if an English sentence has an indirect object only, there has to be something declared as the direct object for the sake of keeping that rule valid.

German grammar doesn't have this rule. It doesn't know about direct and indirect objects at all, in fact. There are only accusative, dative, genitive and prepositional objects. It's more general and more complicated as it has to be learned one by one for each verb and meaning.

Of course, the dass-clause has a name in German, too. It's called Objektsatz. But it isn't limited to dass, it can also be introduced by ob or a question word - or nothing at all.

Ich fragte, ob sie kommen könnte.

I asked if she could come.

Sie sagte, sie hätte keine Zeit.

She said she didn't have time.

Er dachte darüber nach, welches Auto er kaufen solle.

He thought about which car he should buy.

Again, that's very general and not covered by a single rule.

  • Thank you. I am perfectly willing to forget about direct or indirect objects so long as I am told what German grammar calls the dass-clauses in the examples. Are you suggesting the case terminology extends to that discussion?
    – Catomic
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:56
  • I edited my answer to cover that. Please look up Objektsatz.
    – Janka
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:58
  • Thanks for directing me in the right direction. I seem to have found out that dass-clauses indeed get case assignments (of sorts), depending on the verb. They are said to have die Funktion eines Akkusativobjekts, for example, after verstehen and bedauern. canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Satz/Komplex/Funktion/Objekt/…
    – Catomic
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:26
  • Since we say jemanden von etwas überzeugen, perhaps the dass-clause in jemanden überzeugen, dass will be said to have a genitive function? Do you know?
    – Catomic
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:32
  • No, von etwas is preposition+dative. Ihn vom Gegenteil überzeugen.Ihn davon überzeugen, dass das Gegenteil richtig ist. So it's a prepositional object. Genitive is used for example with sicher sein. Er war sich seiner Sache sicher.Er war sich sicher, dass seine Sache (sein Vorgehen) richtig ist.
    – Janka
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:42

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