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Forgive my ignorance, I didn't study through a serious German Grammar book yet but I will someday.

  1. I have a sample statement below for which I have a question.

Das ist der Freund, dessen Foto dir so gut gefallen hat.
That is the friend whose photo pleased you - (==> you like his photo.)
(side story : I can't find the exact matching word for gefallen. Das buch gefällt mir gut. => I like the book. The object and subject should be changed to use English word 'like'. anyway..)

I guess because Foto is male(der Foto), 'dessen' is used. ('dessen' ends with -n like 'sein' which is used for male noun.) Now, what if it was not the photo but 'ein Auto' (neutral) or 'eine Wohnung'(female)?

1-A. Das ist der Freund, dessen Auto dir so gut gefallen hat. (<- is it correct?)
1-B. Das ist der Freund, dessen Wohnung dir so gut gefallen hat. (<- is it correct?)

My wild guess is A is correct but B should be changed to use 'desse Wohung' (like seine Wohnung). Is my guess correct?

  1. In above sentences, the relative possessive pronoun was used for a subjective word. What if it is used for, for example, a Dative case? How do you say

2-A. English : That is the friend about his photo you have told me.
(my guess) Das ist der Freund, von dessem Foto du mir erzält hat.
2-B. English : That is the friend about his apartment you have told me.
(my guess) Das ist der Freund, von desser Wohnung du mir erzält hat.

Please explain to me what the correct forms are of 'dessen' above. (I think I'm making my own grammar here.. :) )

closed as off-topic by infinitezero, RalfFriedl, πάντα ῥεῖ, lejonet, Volker Landgraf Sep 29 at 14:29

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    It's das Foto. Instead of guessing, why don't you just look it up? :) – infinitezero Sep 29 at 9:44
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    Searching for "dessen declension" in Google yields: m.online-translator.com/grammar/de-ru/dessen If anything remains unclear, please explain. Otherwise, Voting to close – infinitezero Sep 29 at 9:46
  • @infinitezero thank you. – Chan Kim Sep 29 at 11:48
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    Actually, I don't see how a conjugation table would help here. Sure, it says deren is feminine, but der Man, deren Wohnung dir so gut gefallen hat is wrong and that needs to be explained. – David Vogt Sep 29 at 17:04
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    The page I linked also lists examples: m.online-translator.com/dictionary/de-en/dessen As mentioned in the help center, a good question should show own research and explictely state, why a thesaurus and/or conjugation table didn't help and what remains unclear. – infinitezero Sep 29 at 17:56
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Das ist der Freund, dessen Foto dir so gut gefallen hat.

I guess because Foto is male(der Foto), 'dessen' is used.

It's das Foto. Dessen in the above sentence is a relative pronoun. It refers back to something in the previous clause, in this case der Freund. It has to agree with that noun.

Das ist die Freundin, deren Auto dir so gut gefallen hat.

Das ist der Wagen, dessen Farbe dir so gut gefallen hat.


Das ist der Freund, von dem du mir erzählt hast.

Here the preposition von put der (referring to der Freund again) into dative case.

Das ist der Freund, von dessen Foto du mir erzählt hast.

Here the preposition von puts dessen Foto into dative case, but this is invisible. What you see is again dessen in masculine genitive case, because we are referring back to der Freund. It's his photo.

Das ist der Freund, von dessen Wohnung du mir erzählt hast.

Das ist die Wohnung, von deren Lage du mir erzählt hast.

  • Ah, thank you very much. So the form is only dependent on the noun that the pronoun refers to. The form doesn't depend on the gender of Foto, Auto, Farbe, Wohnung, Lage above. Then in m.online-translator.com/grammar/de-ru/dessen, when is derer used? Could you give me a couple of examples? – Chan Kim Sep 29 at 11:48
  • Derer refers to a plural form. You find it with verbs demanding a genitive object. Das sind die Vergehen, derer er sich schuldig gemacht hat. – Janka Sep 29 at 18:35
  • Ah, mir ist das jetzt klar. Danke sehr. – Chan Kim Sep 30 at 8:52
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Dessen and deren are listed in grammars as genitive forms of the relative pronoun. They correspond to the genitive forms of the definite article, des (masc. and neut.) and der (fem. and pl.), with an added ‑en.

However, these words are mostly used as relative articles, i.e. with a noun. They have anaphoric gender: Their gender depends on that of the noun they refer back to, not on that of the noun that follows. With regard to the noun that follows, they are uninflected.

Ich habe mich bei der Nachbarin beschwert. Ihr Sohn/ihre Tochter hört zu laut Musik.
Ich habe mich bei der Nachbarin beschwert, deren Sohn/Tochter zu laut Musik hört.

Ich habe mich bei dem Nachbarn beschwert. Sein Sohn/Seine Tochter hört zu laut Musik.
Ich habe mich bei dem Nachbarn beschwert, dessen Sohn/Tochter zu laut Musik hört.

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Actually desse does not exist.

Dessen implies that the noun you refer to in a relative sentence is not feminine, so still can be neutral. Need not be masculine. When in doubt, look words up on a dictionary. Nouns there always come with gender.

In case of dessen the gender-agreement has to be with the noun that possesses something, not with the the object that that noun possesses (as in other languages).

Related to the last part of the question: Man erwartet eine Spur von Dativ in „zu dessen“. Wo ist sie? Warum erscheint nur da der Genitiv? Oder existiert „zu dessem“?

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