A very famous song says:

Ein kleines Edelweiss, das bringst du mir dann mit

I am trying to understand what is the role of dann mit here. For me, if the phrase didn't have these words the meaning would be exactly the same. Since it is a song, I'm tempted to say its for artistic purposes. But I wonder: Is there any change in meaning, and are there other examples of use of dann mit that actually mean something? Or am I totally wrong and dann mit has a purpose here?

  • I think there are two separate issues here. First, the mit seems to be the separated prefix of mitbringen, so why use that instead of just bringen? Second the adverb dann seems to be unnecessary. But the next line in the song is Wenn du von deinen Bergen Wieder heimwärts ziehst, so I assume the dann is referring to that. – RDBury Oct 29 '20 at 10:59

The full text of the verse is:

Ein kleines Edelweiß,
das bringst du mir dann mit.
Wenn du von deinen Bergen
Wieder heimwärts ziehst
Ich weiß es ganz genau
Du pflückst es nur für mich
Ich weiß es ganz genau,
dass du mich so sehr liebst

I would not have been able to answer without the full context.

The first issue I am going to address is mit: it cannot be left out as the verb here is mitbringen, not bringen. Bringen is essentially the action of bringing something more or less directly to a person, while mitbringen places more emphasis on the fact that you are doing the route anyway but will bring something back for them.

The second issue is dann: it is, in my opinion, possible to leave it out but having it in makes the phrase sound better. At face value, dann establishes a temporal relation between the time of singing and the time of bringing the singer the flower; a relation that is already established by wenn du von deinen Bergen wieder heimwärts ziehst. That phrase must relate to a future point in time, otherwise it makes no sense and the wieder would be out of place. This renders dann superfluous on the surface.

Nonetheless, it isn’t be wrong to include it; it immediately points out that the singer is singing about the future and you don’t have to wait for the next stanza to find out. In addition and due to the nature of singing, it is possibly not immediately clear where the full stop is and whether wenn du von deinen Bergen wieder heimwärts ziehst belongs to the Edelweiß sentence or whatever is following it. The dann serves as extra reassurance that these two phrases refer to the same (or at least a similar) point in time.

Naturally, omitting the dann would wreck havoc to the iambic meter, so as we have established that mit is necessary there has to be something to fill the gap.

  • The English phrase "bring along" is sometimes used as a translation for mitbringen, and this fits your explanation well. It's possible that the person is making the trip just to deliver a single tiny white flower, but it doesn't seem very efficient to do it that way. – RDBury Oct 30 '20 at 23:33

"Dann" puts more emphasis on it. Just like in English it would be unnecessary to say "very first" but it is also putting emphasis on the word.

~ a Native German Speaker


There is quite a difference there and I do not agree with the Native German Speaker.

It is all said that it is about mit_bringen. If one would shorten it to "Das bringst Du mir" would make it sound like an order, that is not to be not accepted.

While "dann" usually refers to time modals, it is used as a de-emphasis, as well. "OK, dann mache ich das auch noch" Is about doing something, cause it would not be much more effort, rather than doing something somewhere in time.

So the implicit difference in meaning would be

"Das bringst Du mir mit": Don't forget to bring it
"Das bringst Du mir dann mit": You´ll be there anyways, so please pick it for me.

/Another German Na(t)ive ;)

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