I read a sentence in PONS dictionary:

Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut, hat aber zahlreiche formale Schwächen.

I don't feel comfortable with this sentence construction. I know that we can omit the subject in the next clause as long as it's the same as in the first one. However, the coordinating conjunction und or aber is also omitted here which made me think it's a bad or an unusual style in written German. I would say:

Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut und (er) hat aber zahlreiche formale Schwächen./ Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut aber (er) hat zahlreiche formale Schwächen.

I could suppose it's more of a spoken sentence, but dictionaries in general would indicate that and would even use correct grammar then. So, I'm wondering whether this is a good/bad style in written German?

  • 1
    "hat aber zahlreiche ..." - the conjunction is not omitted?
    – IQV
    Oct 16, 2018 at 6:39
  • @IQV I think aber here is a particle and not a conjunction. If it's a conjunction ,it should precedes the verb hat.
    – Abdullah
    Oct 16, 2018 at 6:42
  • 2
    You seem not to be a friend of subordinate clauses. All your constructions are in fact two independent clauses glued together. The und of your first alternative appears non-intuitive (full stop would be more appropriate, but appears somewhat short-breathed) and given that you simply enumerate two properties of the essay, which are somewhat contradictionary, I consider the first example from Pons the best approach.
    – guidot
    Oct 16, 2018 at 7:16
  • @guidot I never thought about or mentioned subordinate clauses. I did realy think about enumeration, but here we have only 2 things but it's still possible. However, In enumeration I think it's better to add und before the last item which is not here.
    – Abdullah
    Oct 16, 2018 at 7:40
  • 1
    @User The aber is definitely plays the role of a conjunction here (it allows juxtaposition of sentences that would otherwise seem disconnected). This is despite the fact that syntactically it behaves as an adverb (goes into the middle field). Oct 16, 2018 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


This sentence is perfectly fine. In particular, it is considerably better than it would be if you repeated the subject. Consider:

?Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut, der Aufsatz hat aber zahlreiche formale Schwächen.

This would be so grating stylistically that I'm tempted to classify it as borderline ungrammatical.

Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut, er hat aber zahlreiche formale Schwächen.

Using a pronoun in place of a repetition is much better; this would be unobjectionable except that such a sequence of main clauses is better put as separate sentences:

Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut. Er hat aber zahlreiche formale Schwächen.

This is fine. It uses very short sentences, but that is not objectionable in itself; masters of the language, like Hemingway, can actually make this into a compelling style.

As guidot wrote, you should probably get more familiar with using subclauses.

  • Do you thing the following sentences equally acceptable in written German? Der Aufsatz ist inhaltlich gut, handelt von wichtigem Thema. Ich wohne in Berlin, arbeite in einer Firma. Ich wohne in Deutschland, arbeite aber in die Schweiz. I think aber (contradiction) has something to do with this style.
    – Abdullah
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:21
  • By the way, I also find PONS sentence very beautiful and correct but I thought it fits better spoken German.
    – Abdullah
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:24
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    @User: Actually I consider it the other way round: omitting something works better in writing, where you have a chance to glance backwards. While its perfectly possible in spoken language, more likely either the separate sentences or an other/easier construct would be used like: Der Aufsatz ist zwar inhaltlich ..., aber hat ...
    – guidot
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:33
  • @guidot Thank you. One last thing, just to be sure I understood correctly, in written German, do you think that such sentence Ich wohne in Berlin, arbeite in einer Firma acceptable where we don't have contradiction?
    – Abdullah
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:43
  • 1
    @User Actually not, because these are two independent and unrelated facts. The latter part also appears somewhat incomplete, but even if replaced by bin angestellt it would not pass as a full sentence but as a telegram-style enumeration. What is perfectly fine is: Ich wohne in Berlin, arbeite aber in Frankfurt". I assume this is a consequence of the common aspect "locality.
    – guidot
    Oct 16, 2018 at 9:41

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