What does the second der mean in the following sentence?

Einzig der Fluss Kabul, so heißt übrigens auch die Hauptstadt von Afghanistan, fließt in den Indus und der mündet am Schluss in den Indischen Ozean.

Source: https://www.kinderweltreise.de/kontinente/asien/afghanistan/daten-fakten/steckbrief/

  • 1
    I was reading out this earlier today, see related questions in English and German
    – RDBury
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


The second der is not the definite article, even if it looks the same, but a Demonstrativpronomen, engl. demonstrative pronoun, which refers back to Indus.

This would be easier recognized, if dieser had been written instead, but der is completely correct, too.

Even better (since it more clearly points out the change of the subject) would be:

... in den Indus, dieser wiederum mündet in den Indischen Ozean.

(I don't see a benefit of am Schluss and therefore dropped it.)

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    If I understand it correctly (it's not easy to master), in this case using der is similar to stressing "it" in English. So "Only the Kabul River ... flows into the Indus and at the end IT (the Indus) flows into the Indian Ocean." Since the Kabul is the subject of the previous clause, using er instead would imply you're still talking about the Kabul. In written English stress wouldn't work so you'd end up having to repeat "the Indus" to avoid ambiguity. Is this a correct interpretation?
    – RDBury
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 19:39
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    @RDBury Yes, a demonstrative pronoun is like verbally pointing your finger at it - So, it's clearly a stress.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 9:47
  • @RDBury While your translation may be idiomatic, the literal/technical one would be: Only the Kabul flows into the Indus and this [in turn] flows into the Indian Ocean. I think it has not quite the same amount of 'denonstrativeness' as der. When used like this, der/die/das is really like a shorter/lighter form of dieser/diese/dieses ('this', 'that'). Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 11:35
  • @amadeusamadeus: Thanks, the difference is subtle but I see your point. An alternative, in German and English, is to go with a relative clause: ... , der am Schluss ... mündet. -- "... which flows into ...". It's not quite the same emphasis but it is unambiguous, and I think it would be the best option in written English. The paper here has the example "John called Fred a Republican. Then he insulted him." The second sentence has complete different meanings depending on which words are accented.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 14:49

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