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Reading this sentence in chapter 16 of Peter Stamm's novel "Die sanfte Gleichgültigkeit der Welt":

"Lena ging mir voraus zum Ausgang, wo der Verkäufer von vorhin stand".

Is it just a question of style or could "vorhin" had been used without a preceding "von" in this sentence ?

1 Answer 1

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It would make a big difference in terms of meaning:

  • "Lena ging mir voraus zum Ausgang, wo der Verkäufer von vorhin stand"

    This refers to the seller. "The salesman from before."

    (Lena went ahead of me to the exit, where the seller from before was standing.)

  • "Lena ging mir voraus zum Ausgang, wo der Verkäufer vorhin stand"

    "... where he was standing before."

    (Lena went ahead of me to the exit where the seller was standing earlier.)

In both sentences the part ", wo der Verkäufer (...) stand" refers to the exit. It is a (local) relative clause like this:

„Zukunft ist der Ort, wo wir den Rest unseres Lebens verbringen.“ (Woody Allen)

The subordinate clause after the comma describes the place more precisely.


Theoretically it would be possible to say something like that:

"Lena ging mir voraus zum Ausgang, wo der Verkäufer von vorhin vorhin stand."

(Lena went ahead of me to the exit where the salesman from earlier was standing before.)

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  • So "vorhin" on it's own focuses back on the exit rather than the salesman ?
    – John Lamb
    Dec 2, 2020 at 12:12
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    @JohnLamb I hope i didn't confuse you with this. Both sentences refer to the exit, of course. I have adapted my answer once again.
    – choXer
    Dec 2, 2020 at 12:30
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    Vorhin, being an adverb, focuses on stand, whereas von vorhin is an attribute of der Verkäufer.
    – RHa
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:03
  • I would, also change the word order for the "vorhin" sentence to ".., wo vorhin der Verkäufer stand". It both focuses on the salesman, but as I understand it it's something like the following: "von vorhin" states the fact that there was a salesman and "vorhin" states more von the time, when this occured (it feels you really doubt he is still there). edit: @choXer: yes, but it sounds more natural if the "vorhin" is on the first position. Dec 4, 2020 at 11:33
  • @MarkLösche the word order doesn't affect the meaning
    – choXer
    Dec 4, 2020 at 11:35

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