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Er ging weg, wobei er hämisch grinste.

Er ging weg und lachte dabei.

Are both pronominal adverb wobei and dabei interchangeable in the above sentences?

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  • "Hämisch grinsen" (to grin maliciously) is something different from "lachen" (to laugh)
    – user41853
    Mar 13, 2020 at 9:21

1 Answer 1

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wobei and dabei are interchangable indeed, but they require a different sentence structure. They both refer to an action mentioned in the Hauptsatz (in the case of dabei, it can also be used in the Hauptsatz, then it refers to an action of the previous sentence)

Wobei is always at the beginning of the Nebensatz and it makes it a Relativsatz. Dabei does not need to stand at the beginning and it does not initiate a Relativsatz.

You can say these:

Er ging weg und grinste dabei hämisch.
Er ging weg, wobei er lachte.
Er ging weg. Dabei grinste er hämisch.

But you cannot simply replace the words like this:

Er ging weg, dabei er hämisch grinste.
Er ging weg und lachte wobei

Please note that the two used sentences don't really describe the same thing, as lachen and hämisch grinsen are quite different. My answer focuses on the difference of wobei and dabei.

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