4

How does moving the past participle in the following sentence to the end of the sentence affect the sentence's meaning? More generally, when/why would you use one or the other?

Sie haben erheblich gelitten unter den aggressiven Machtansprüchen und auf ihrem Territorium ausgetragenen Kriegen der französischen, spanischen und Habsburger Herrscher.

Sie haben unter den aggressiven Machtansprüchen und auf ihrem Territorium ausgetragenen Kriegen der französischen, spanischen und Habsburger Herrscher erheblich gelitten.

7

It doesn't. The second example is more 'correct' and sounds more professional, the first example is somewhat easier to parse.

  • 1
    I would prefer to put "erheblich" near the front and only "gelitten" at the end of the sentence. But the version with "gelitten" near the front is indeed easier to read. – Rudy Velthuis May 1 at 17:11
  • @RudyVelthuis Yes that's also possible (and I think somewhat easier to read because the erheblich gives you a very good clue as to which verb to expect.) – sgf May 1 at 17:21
7

Typically, the conjugated verb (here: haben) and whatever parts of the verbal phrase remain (here: gelitten) form the Verbklammer (verb bracket) and are often considered including the entire sentence with the exception of the first fragment which precedes the bracket.

Thus, the second version of the sentence sounds more professional and of a higher register, because the bracket completely includes everything else that is in the sentence. Excluding the admittedly very long prepositional object from the verb bracket and placing it behind the participle makes it sound slightly more than an addendum than an integral part of the sentence, particularly since ‘Sie haben erheblich gelitten’ is, in itself, a complete and valid sentence.

However, this effect may be desired. Maybe the main point you are making is that they sufferend and then offer the reason for suffering as an addendum afterwards; in that case, I would go with the first version. In spoken language, you might also be inclined to use the first version as there is a lot to chew through between the haben and the gelitten.

The actual and concrete meaning does not change with the placement used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.