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I cannot understand the sentence below. Please help.

Es war einmal ein kleines süßes Mädchen, das hatte jedermann lieb, der sie nur ansah, am allerliebsten aber ihre Großmutter, die wusste gar nicht, was sie alles dem Kinde geben sollte.

Is my interpretation below correct?
Once upon a time there was a girl who liked everyone, of the those who just watched her was her grandmother who didn't know what she should give her grand daughter.

My first question is "das hatte jedermann lieb" is it
A : "who loved everyone" or
B : "whom everyone loved"?
I think it's A. If it was B, it should be "das jedermann lieb hatte". I am studyng German. In beginner level.

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Es war einmal ein kleines süßes Mädchen,

Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl

That's the main clause.

das hatte jedermann lieb, der sie nur ansah,

whom everyone loved who looked at her

A first-level relative clause, and a second-level relative clause.

am allerliebsten aber ihre Großmutter,

but her grandmother at most,

An addition to the first-level relative clause.

die wusste gar nicht,

she did not know

A second main clause, appended with a comma.

was sie alles dem Kinde geben sollte.

what all else she should give the child.

That's another first-level relative clause.


You stumbled over

das hatte jedermann lieb

You are correct, both your interpretations are possible. You are not correct this depends on word order. It doesn't. But the sentence continues with another second-level relative clause

das hatte jedermann lieb, der sie nur ansah

which leaves only the interpretation it's the girl who is loved, not anyone. That's because der is nominative.

To turn the table, let the girl love anyone, it must had read

das hatte jedermann lieb, den sie nur ansah

Here den is accusative and addresses anyone.

  • Thanks for the thorough explanations. One more question, with the same original meaning, can we say das jedenann lieb hatte? What's the difference between das hatte jedermann lieb and das jedermann hatte lieb and das jedermann lieb hatte? Sorry for the long question.😊 – Chan Kim Mar 10 '18 at 1:50
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    das hatte jedermann lieb and das jedermann lieb hatte mean the same thing, both interpreations are possible for each word order. In contrary, das jedermann hatte lieb is ungrammatical because it neither follows the V2 word order nor the predicate last word order of dependent clauses. – Janka Mar 10 '18 at 1:54
  • To be exact, das hatte jedermann lieb could be seen as another main clause instead of a relative clause, just because it follows the V2 word order of a main clause. But its function in the text is that of a "true" relative clause das jedermann lieb hatte. – Janka Mar 10 '18 at 1:59
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Only B makes sense in this context. Perhaps you should avoid fairy tales for the time being as they often use some non-standard word order, poetic language and such.

That sentence could be translated (from here):

Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child.

The last part of that sentence in more literal translation is: ...but most of all by her grandmother, who did not know what else to give to the child. [running out of ideas because she had given her so much already]

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