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This is the sentence from a classic paper:

Der Faktor A ist eingefügt, damit die Eigenfunktionen U normiert sind, wenn die Eigenfunktionen u es waren.

What does the 'es' mean here? Does it mean 'normiert'?

If so, German is really different from English.

  • 1
    Yes............ – Carsten S Nov 1 '17 at 5:45
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Yes.

"Es" refers to the relation of U and being normed and applies it to "Eigenfunktionen" (thus setting it being normed).

In english you would just say "If the individual/sub functions are". In german the verb "sein" rarely stands alone.

  • This is correct as far as es is concerned, but in English you would say: The factor A has been inserted to ensure that the eigenfunctions U are normalized if the eigenfunctions u were. Without knowing the full context, it looks like a set of eigenfunctions u were constructed first, and the eigenfunctions U are then derived from them. – Martin Peters Nov 2 '17 at 9:00
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In English, the passage would read, "The factor A is inserted so that the eigenfunctions U are normalized if the eigenfunctions were U."

A literal English translation of the German passage would read, "The factor A is inserted so that the eigenfunctions U are normalized if the eigenfunctions they were U."

"Es" is a placeholder reference equivalent to the "they." That's because in German, the "be" verb is usually "coupled" with a pronoun such as "es," even though that would be considered "bad" English. And of course, the "es" serves as an abbreviated reference to the eigenfunctions.

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