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Reading the book "Kielings kleine Waldschule" the paragraph starts with this sentence

"Dem Interesse an der Natur einerseits, das ich zum Beispiel bei meinen Facebook-Followern feststelle, steht andererseits eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur gegenüber." Seite 18.

Why does this sentence start with the dative article "Dem" and not the nominative case "Das" ?

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    It's a long sentence. Have you tried to identify the subject?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 16:34
  • Think the fact that the sentence included "einerseits" und "andererseits" had confused me. So I took the "Dem Interesse an der Natur einerseits" as subject. I had wondered whether "Interesse an" had governed the dative in some way. I had always considered the natural order as einerseits und andererseits.
    – John Lamb
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 16:47
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    That's understandable. The einerseits/andererseits keeps us from rearranging the sentence in SVO order, which is a bit unusual.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 16:51
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    "Interesse an" only governs the dative "der Natur". The sentence can be simplified by dropping the words "einerseits"/"andererseist", which makes it perhaps easier to parse; adding these two words merely gives (even more) emphasis on the opposites expressed. Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 20:59

2 Answers 2

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Dem Interesse an der Natur ... steht ... eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur gegenüber.

That's what it is.

You could rearrange the sentence to: eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur steht dem Interesse an der Natur gegenüber

and if you compare this difficult sentence to an easier one like:

Plötzlich stand er seiner Traumfrau gegenüber.

you'll see, that gegenüberstehen forms something like

[Nominative] steht [dative] gegenüber.

Since German is flexible in word order, you need to figure out, what is subject and what is object. Subject is always in nominative.

eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur

seems to be the subject here. So the other part is in dative case since gegenüberstehen is asking for an object in dative case.

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<gegenüber> + Dativ Right? The main subject in this long sentence is "eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur". I rearrange below a typical S-V-O flow: eine gewisse Entfremdung von der Natur steht andererseits gegenüber dem Interesse an der Natur einerseits, das ich zum Beispiel bei meinen Facebook-Followern feststelle.

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