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What is the meaning of uneingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz? Does it refer to the use of dass in the sentence as a connector of two phrases and positioning the verb at the end?

  • Where did you encounter this term? According to Google, it is quite rarely used. – David Vogt Jun 9 '19 at 11:52
  • I am enrolled in A2 Language Course from Goethe Institute in Delhi. Their content has this word. When I used google translator, it was not showing me the meaning for each word but if I combined them, then I would get the meaning as unaccompanied supplementary sentence, and I got completely confused with this meaning. – akshit bhatia Jun 9 '19 at 12:59
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Ich glaube, dass er recht hat.

I think that he is right.

This is a sentence with a main clause and a dependent (here: object) clause introduced by dass. The object clause serves as an object to glauben.

Ich glaube, er hat recht.

I think he is right.

This is a sentence with a main clause and an uneingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz – also a main clause. The meaning is identical to the above sentence with the object clause, though the second clause follows the rules of the main clause.

This kind of uneingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz is similar to the structures in English and should be no problem to you. Just mind the comma.


However, there is another kind:

Regnet es, bleibe ich zu Hause.

If it rains I stay at home.

The if is implicit. You can spot those uneingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz by the finite verb in front though it's not in Imperativ mode. Indikativ and Konjunktiv are possible:

Hätte ich das gewusst, wäre ich zuhause geblieben.

If I knew that I stayed at home.


There is a third kind, also with the finite verb in front:

Er wusste nicht, war das gut oder schlecht.

He didn't know whether that was good or bad.

  • In the examples with conditional V1-clauses (Regnet es … and Hätte ich das gewusst …), the dependent clauses function as Angaben, not Ergänzungen. – David Vogt Jun 9 '19 at 11:56
  • All these things are okay. I couldnt understand the third kind and one just above it, as I havent reached upto that level yet. When we say uneingeleiteter Ergänzungen, what does it refer to? – akshit bhatia Jun 9 '19 at 13:19
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    Uneingeleitet means without an introduction, because there is no marker word as dass or wenn. Ergänzung means addition, so an Ergänzungssatz is a clause with additions. – Janka Jun 9 '19 at 13:31
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Janka's answer is fine, but let's examine the terminology a bit closer.

Let's take care of Ergänzungssatz first. Ergänzung is the German term for complement, i.e. subjects and objects; the complementary term is Angabe, English modifier.

For many verbs, the object may either be a noun phrase or a sentence. In the first case, the German term would be nominale Ergänzung (noun phrase complement).

Die Wissenschaftler untersuchten das Phänomen gründlich.
The scientists examined the phenomenon carefully.

In the second, Ergänzungssatz or Objektsatz (sentential complement or complement clause).

Die Wissenschaftler untersuchten gründlich, ob Pferde zählen können.
The scientists examined carefully whether horses can count.

(I threw in gründlich in the above examples because it is an example of a modifier or Angabe; as is nicht mehr below.).

Now for certain verbs, there are two types of Ergänzungssatz possible:

Ich glaube, daß sie mich nicht mehr liebt.
Ich glaube, sie liebt mich nicht mehr.

I think (that) she doesn't love me anymore.

How to distinguish them? It appears that there is a tradition that calls the first eingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz/Objektsatz/Nebensatz, as it is introduced by the subordinating conjunction daß, and the second uneingeleiteter Ergänzungssatz/Objektsatz/Nebensatz, as there is no subordinating conjunction.

However, I am not a fan of this terminology. Learners of German are trained to distinguish verb-initial and verb-final clauses from the get-go, so the position of the finite verb should be the most prominent feature. An alternative terminology uses abhängiger/eingebetteter Verbzweitsatz (dependent/embedded V2-clause) for the second case, abhängiger/eingebetteter Verbletztsatz (dependent/embedded verb-final clause) for the first.

This terminology has the advantage of highlighting the position of the finite verb. However, since abhängig/eingebettet is less precise than Ergänzung/Objekt , I'd actually prefer Verbzweitsatz als Objekt/Ergänzung (V2 complement clause), Verbletztsatz als Objekt/Ergänzung (verb-final complement clause).

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