Ich möchte noch Wein. Haben wir noch welchen?

Nein, es ist keiner mehr da.

I understand why the first part has "welchen" in the accusative, but unsure of the reasoning behind "keiner" being the nominative. How is "keiner" the subject of the sentence here?

  • Look at the verb.
    – Eller
    Nov 30, 2017 at 17:48
  • Does nominative always come after "sein"?
    – G Rose
    Nov 30, 2017 at 19:29
  • 1
    This is indeed a very interesting grammatical question because the semantic subject ("Wein") and the semantic predicate of the sentence "nicht mehr da" do not correspond to their grammatical entities. It would be a pity if the question should be closed. In particular, I cannot figure out why this grammatical question should be off-topic for this site. Nov 30, 2017 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


Sein is the copula, it takes a nominative "object". It's the same in English but you usually can't see the difference there.

Wer ist sie? — Sie ist die Königin von England, du Doofie!

Who is she? — She's the Queen of England, dummy!

If that was accusative, it has to be her in English. And in the above special case, it's English which uncovers the nominative, while in German, nominative and accusative of sie are the same.


This is a very common sentence with a very weird grammatical structure.

I think the most simple way to understand this structure is by assuming the following idiomatic predicate expression with the meaning "to be available in the specified quantity":

Es ist/sind [quantifier] [nominative part] da.


Es ist ein Buch da.
Es sind zwei Bücher da.
Es sind genug Bücher da.
Es sind viele Bücher da.
Es sind wenige Bücher da.
Es sind keine Bücher da.

Es ist ein Liter Wein da.
Es sind zwei Liter Wein da.
Es sind viele Liter Wein da.
Es sind wenige Liter Wein da.
Es ist kein Liter Wein da.

Es ist Wein da.
Es ist genug Wein da.
Es ist viel Wein da.
Es ist wenig Wein da.
Es ist kein Wein da.

As can be seen in the examples, the verb is congruent ("ist/sind") to the nominative part before da. Hence this nominative part is indeed the subject and not a nominative object.

In German, an expression of form "kein Wein" can be substituted for the negative pronoun "keiner". So, the last example sentence turns into:

Es ist keiner da.

The adverbial attribute "mehr" added, you get:

Es ist keiner mehr da.

I have to admit that from a grammatical point of view this sentence structure is an exceptional one despite of being in heavy use.

  • Well explained, apart from explaining why this should be a "very weird grammatical" construction. What do you consider weird?
    – Beta
    Dec 1, 2017 at 6:16
  • @Beta A not weird grammatical sentence construction consists of a subject and a predicate where subject can always take the first place in a sentence. That's not the case here. A not weird sentence can be turned into a question just by moving the subject behind the verb of the predicate without any other changes on the sentence. That's not the case here either. And some further oddities. Dec 1, 2017 at 8:24
  • What we have here is that the subject moved away from the first position and a Platzhalter-es takes this position. This has already been discussed, e.g. in german.stackexchange.com/questions/37476/…
    – RHa
    Dec 1, 2017 at 12:26
  • @RHa That's right. But in this case it's more than that. Dec 1, 2017 at 13:32

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