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I have come across the following subordinate clause:

dass sich in deutschen Landen Alles um das Essen dreht.

I was wondering how this sentence should be had it been a main clause. Since "dass" forces the main verb to go into the last position, would putting "dreht" in the second position and removing dass produce a correct sentence?

I would construct this sentence like in the following ways:

Sich dreht in deutschen Landen Alles um das Essen.
Alles dreht sich in deutschen Landen um das Essen.
Sich dreht Alles in deutschen Landen um das Essen.
In deutschen landen dreht sich Alles um das Essen.
Um das Essen dreht sich Alles um das Essen.
Um das Essen dreht Alles sich um das Essen.

1) Which one of these sentencs above correct/incorrect and why? 2) Is "sich" supposed to come right after the main verb or can an adverb or two enter between them (the conjugated verb and the reflexive part)?

  • The last two sentences may not be incorrect in a strict sense but they are somewhat weird because "um das Essen" appears twice, and "in deutschen Landen" is missing. So I think there "um das Essen" should be replaced by "in deutschen Landen". – RHa Sep 26 '17 at 19:52
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You can find your answer here: In main clauses, the reflexive pronoun sich goes directly after the conjugated verb or after the subject, if the subject comes after the conjugated verb. If the subject is a personal pronoun, the reflexive pronoun sich must come after personal pronoun.

So the following variants are correct:

Alles dreht sich in deutschen Landen um das Essen.
In deutschen landen dreht sich alles um das Essen.
Um das Essen dreht sich alles um das Essen.
Um das Essen dreht alles sich um das Essen.

The last one is grammatically correct, but uncommon. It sounds a little bit strange, presumably because alles is a very weak subject and the conjugated verb dreht attracts the reflexive pronoun sich far stronger.

  • Nice answer and very much to the point: It is the conjugated (this is correct) verb that attracts the weak (again, correct) pronoun – exceptions are still possible. Extra information: W. G. Sebald has mentioned that the unusual word order might be reminiscent of Yiddish (though I forgot in which novel it was). – mach Sep 27 '17 at 21:18
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Er meinte, dass sich in deutschen Landen alles um das Essen dreht.

Let's have a look at your proposals:

Sich dreht in deutschen Landen alles um das Essen.

Sich dreht alles in deutschen Landen um das Essen.

These are incorrect because sich belongs to the finite verb sich drehen. In declarative sentences, German needs something not beloning to the finite verb in front of it, that's a rule carved in stone as English SPO. What? Well, es is always there when needed:

Es dreht sich in deutschen Landen alles um das Essen.

Es dreht sich alles in deutschen Landen um das Essen.

Alles dreht sich in deutschen Landen um das Essen.

In deutschen Landen dreht sich alles um das Essen.

Um das Essen dreht sich alles in deutschen Landen.

These are all correct but have emphasis on different things. (Focus is on the front, then end, and last on the middle part of a clause.)

Um das Essen dreht alles sich in deutschen Landen.

This is incorrect but may be found nevertheless. The rules for placing separable parts of a verb are somewhat complex and people tend to get them wrong often enough. Sometimes it's a stylistic feature.

  • Um das Essen dreht alles sich in deutschen Landen. is grammatically correct, just uncommon (and sounds strange, but certain US presidents do so as well). – Toscho Sep 26 '17 at 22:11
  • "dass sich in deutschen Landen alles um das Essen dreht." This is a subordinate clause, right? So moving the main verb to the second position to make it a main clause (and removing "dass" of course) would yield: "Sich dreht in deutschen Landen alles um das Essen" But because "sich" belongs to the finite verb it can't be in front of "dreht" right. I had the assumption that removing the subordinate conjunction and putting the verb in 2nd position would always be correct. I guess that was wrong – Evil Racehorse Sep 27 '17 at 12:25
  • Addition: What's the purpose of "es" here? Isn't sich a reflexive pronoun referring to "Alles"? Aren't the 2 sentences you wrote by adding "es" implying that "sich" is referring" to "es" rathen than "alles"? – Evil Racehorse Sep 27 '17 at 12:30
  • Es is a grammatically required dummy subject in those two examples. And yes, sich refers to es then instead of alles. But this doesn't change the meaning because es is a dummy for the real subject alles, which becomes a Prädikativ ("Nominative object") in such sentences. – Janka Sep 27 '17 at 13:46
  • So, as I see it "es" only comes to play to keep the verb in the second position? That means I can restructure the sentence without "es" and have "sich" refer to "alles" like it should as in your 3rd to 5ith examples right? They seem more right to me – Evil Racehorse Sep 29 '17 at 12:39

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