In the sentence below,

"Ich bin sowohl in Norwegen als auch in Schweden gewesen."

which word is stressed? I mean, in nuance, isn't it that one is regarded obvious and the other is regarded unexpected? In English, if we say "He is so much smart as he is kind", it would mean "He is kind (you might know it), but he is even smart". (it sounds like that to me). So I want to know to German natives, which one (Norwegen or Schweden) is stressed in the sentence above.

  • 4
    Up to now, I have always assumed, in combinations of this kind, that the words involved are given the same degree of emphasis. But now that you ask, I'm not 100% sure if that' s really true. One point may be that the words get more distance what in my opinion seems to reduce the effect of "shadowing" the second word (if the expression is at the beginning of the sentence). Let's see if we get a good answer here.
    – Wolf
    Jun 3, 2020 at 15:19
  • 1
    I don't think the English example fits well here. When translating the sentence to English, it could become He was in both Norway and Sweden. I don't see much of an emphasis in either language.
    – RHa
    Jun 4, 2020 at 10:20

3 Answers 3


...sowohl... als auch ...

connects siblings of the same type and expressly emphasizes that each has the same weight.

"Sie spricht sowohl Englisch als auch Französisch."

That means she can speak English as well as French. Without knowing which of the two languages ​​she can speak better. This two (or also more) things (English and French in this example) have the same degree of emphasis.

German duden says: "...und betont dabei nachdrücklich, dass jedem von ihnen gleiches Gewicht zukommt" Duden

For your example: you can also say "Ich war in Norwegen und in Schweden", and it has the same meaning

If you say: "Ich war zuerst im schönen Norwegen und dann musste ich auch noch nach Schweden", it means, that you were first in beautiful Norway and then had to go to Sweden. So Norway is stressed in a "good" and Sweden rather "bad".

  • thanks, hearing from you and Wolf up there, it looks like German people think them almost of equal weight.
    – Chan Kim
    Jun 4, 2020 at 15:47

This only reflects me personal feeling of speech

Ich bin sowohl in Norwegen als auch in Schweden gewesen.

Norwegen is as important as Schweden The dufference to a regular und is that it emphases both parts.


Id say, "sowohl A als auch B" stresses mosty the both of both A and B:

"Ich war sowohl in Norwegen als auch in Schweden." would be a typical answer to "Warst du in Norwegen oder Schweden?" where the oder has a connotation of xor/exclusive or in everyday spoken German (same as "Have you been to Norway or to Sweden?" in English).

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