In my previous post, I asked in the comments section whether in the sentence

Ich glaube, Julia gefallen einfarbige T-Shirts

the verb gefallen should actually be gefällt since I thought the subject was actually Julia since she was liking the T-shirts.

One user agreed, but another user said:

No, in "Julia gefällt das T-Shirt." or in "Julia gefallen einfarbige T-Shirts." the subject is T-Shirt and T-Shirts, not Julia. The plural is not the problem, it's the "someone likes something" vs. "something appeals to someone". The grammatical subject-object are swapped here.

I'm slightly confused. What is right and why?

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of "Lieben" vs "gefallen"
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:28
  • 2
    No, I did not agree. I only wrote Ich glaube, Julia gefällt ein einfarbiges T-Shirt. is also perfectly right. What you cannot have is a noun and verb that don't agree on the number. By the way, the T-Shirts are the subject.
    – Janka
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


In your question, the T-Shirts are the subject.

Don't let word order confuse you. In German, the item before the predicate verb in second position isn't the subject, but the topic. In both the cases below, das is the subject, and mir is the object.

Mir gefällt das.

Das gefällt mir.

The difference between those two sentences is in emphasis on either mir or das. You could write your sentence as

Ich glaube, Julia gefallen einfarbige T-Shirts.

Ich glaube, einfarbige T-Shirts gefallen Julia.

They mean the same, it's just the emphasis which changed.

  • Ist nicht "Ich" das Subjekt ("Ich glaube, ...")? Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 15:49
  • 1
    Es handelt sich um zwei verkettete Hauptsätze.
    – Janka
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:34

The key to your question is to recognize, that in your sentence Julia is not nominative case here, but the dative object. (The valence of gefallen is etwas gefällt jemandem). Thus, T-Shirts is actually the grammatical subject of the sentence and hence the plural form of the verb gefallen is correct, since T-Shirts is plural.

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