An excerpt from Angela Merkel's televised speech regarding Covid-19, I'm trying to figure out the grammatical structure of the first clause: what are the cases used and could you provide another sentence with a similar grammatical structure? Thank you!

Der unnötige Begegnung vermeidet, hilft allen, die sich in den Krankenhäusern um täglich mehr Fälle kümmern müssen, so retten wir Leben. (Youtube, TV-Ansprache der Kanzlerin vom 18.3.2020)

  • She says wer, but that doesn't change the grammatical structure, so I left der unedited.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


I think your transcription must be erroneous: I get Wer unnötige Begegnung vermeidet... when I Google. Admittedly, Merkel's pronunciation of the w is somewhat less than clear (video at appropriate time).

Then this is a subjectival clause: the wer... clause is the subject of hilft.

"Whoever avoids unnecessary contact helps all, who..."

  • And wer is the subject of the embedded clause.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 9:07
  • 1
    A maybe more literal translation: He who avoids unnecessary contact..."
    – RHa
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 13:51

Nonwithstanding what Merkel actually said, the sentence as you wrote it is is grammatical. Der can be used as a substitute for der, welcher, although that sounds rather old fashioned, even more so with the subordinated clause put at the beginning -- the formulation reminds me of biblical language. And that's what makes it sound wrong in a context like this, where such a style is not expected.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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