"Es war einmal eine alte Schweinemutter, die hatte drei kleine Schweinchen.".

By what grammatical rule causes die to mean 'her' in this sentence?

  • 2
    "die" is very probably not an article here, but a relative pronoun. (Please add the complete quote to show that).
    – tofro
    Nov 23 at 10:35
  • 1
    @tofro: My first thought was demonstrative pronoun; wouldn't a relative pronoun put the verb at the end?. In any case, it is hard to tell from what's given. This must be a duplicate several times over either way; there are probably lots of answers here talking about relative and demonstrative pronouns.
    – RDBury
    Nov 23 at 11:34
  • Whatever it is, it certainly doesn't mean "her" here?
    – DonHolgo
    Nov 23 at 12:21
  • 1
    @RDBury My guess is the original quote was "Es war einmal eine alte Schweinemutter, die hatte drei kleine Schweinchen.". Here, "die" is obviously a relative pronoun. Thus I was asking for the full quote.
    – tofro
    Nov 23 at 13:04

Es war einmal eine Schweinemutter, die hatte drei kleine Schweinchen.

Here, "die" is the relative pronoun in the subclause (after the comma) that relates to the subject of the main clause ("Schweinemutter").

It actually doesn't mean "her", but rather "who". It translates as

There once was a pig mother who had three little piglets.

German "die" can be a bit tricky, because it can be an article, a demonstrative, or a relative pronoun. Here, it's the latter.

  • How do you explain the position of the verb in what you identify as a relative clause?
    – Carsten S
    Nov 24 at 9:42
  • 1
    @CarstenS slm.uni-hamburg.de/ren/media/pdf/… "Ausnahmen"
    – tofro
    Nov 24 at 10:14
  • Danke. Für den Anwender ist es im Endeffekt ja auch egal, welche Art von Pronomen das ist.
    – Carsten S
    Nov 24 at 11:11
  • 1
    Zu den V2-Relativsätzen siehe auch german.stackexchange.com/a/55064/35111.
    – David Vogt
    Nov 24 at 11:26
  • @CarstenS Das ist vor allem deswegen egal, weil sich die Sprachwissenschaftler hier ja auch nicht einig sind ;)
    – tofro
    Nov 24 at 13:44

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