The following sentence appears in episode 216 of Slow German:

Er erfand das Kork-Fußbett, das heute berühmt ist für Birkenstock-Sandalen.

Is not the verb in the relative clause in the wrong place? Should it not read

Er erfand das Kork-Fußbett, das heute berühmt für Birkenstock-Sandalen ist.

Is there any justification for the original word order?

  • 1
    Both versions are equivalent.
    – user41853
    Oct 21, 2020 at 20:51
  • This question from a few days ago is not quite the same, but I think is the same basic issue of extra bits being added after where the clause is "supposed" to end. This Wikipedia article might be useful.
    – RDBury
    Oct 21, 2020 at 21:24
  • It is not correct German, at least on two reasons: 1. "ist" should be at the end, as you wrote 2. "das" is bad, it should be "daß" or "dass". | Beside that, I am not very sure, where is the subject in the sentence.
    – peterh
    Oct 22, 2020 at 6:54
  • 1
    Both are unnatural, I think most people would say »[...]das heute für Birkenstock-Sandalen berühmt ist.«. All three are probably wrong, because it's not the Kork-Fußbett that's famous for the sandals, but the sandals are famous for having the Kork-Fußbett, which you would say as »[...] Kork-Fußbett, für das die Birkenstock-Sandalen heute berühmt sind.«. Oct 22, 2020 at 6:55
  • 1
    @peterh-ReinstateMonica No, »das« refers to the Kork-Fußbett, so it's correct. Oct 22, 2020 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


Both sentences are grammatically correct and semantically equal. However, semantically I'd call both sentences (equally) wrong.

In general

The keyword here is the term Nachfeld.

The grammatical information system of the IDS (Leibniz Institute for the German Language) says:

Das Nachfeld kann in allen drei Verbstellungstypen [...] besetzt sein, muss aber prinzipiell in keinem realisiert sein: Im Unterschied zum Vorfeld in Verbzweitsätzen gilt das Nachfeld prinzipiell als strukturell fakultative Position. Das Nachfeld kann sowohl Hintergrund- als auch Vordergrund-Informationen enthalten[...]

The IDS lists several examples, one of which is:

Für ein paar Stunden ist der Präsident der Bundesbank zurückgekehrt in sein altes Leben. (Die Zeit, 25.10.2009)

Of course would "Für ein paar Stunden ist der Präsident der Bundesbank in sein altes Leben zurückgekehrt." also be correct.

So this is just one more degree of freedom in German language. But although the first of your given examples is as grammatically correct as the second and similar examples are widely spread (not only in colloquial language, but also in proofread newspapers and books), there are some people, even native speakers, for whom such a word order sounds unfamiliar.

This case

In your given example I see a semantic error: The cork footbed is not famous for the shoes. The shoes are famous for the cork footbed. However, it might be a philosophical question whether the shoes made the cork footbed famous or the footbed made the shoes famous. In order to rescue the question about the word order, we could modify the sentences a bit:

Er erfand das Kork-Fußbett, das typisch ist für Birkenstock-Sandalen.


Er erfand das Kork-Fußbett, das für Birkenstock-Sandalen typisch ist.

I guess, both sentences are correct (although they are far away from being elegant).

However, simpler and more usual would be

Er erfand das Kork-Fußbett, für das die Birkenstock-Sandalen heute berühmt sind.

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