While discussing these sentences with 2 native German speakers:

»Ist er für mich, Vati?« »Ja, er ist, Gloria.«

I was corrected to:

»Ja, ist er, Gloria.«

But here are 23 examples of »Ja er ist« in DWDS. So I do not understand the need for the correction. Please advise.

  • 2
    For conversational German it's probably better to use the Filmuntertitel corpus instead of the *DWDS-Kernkorpus. The subtitles should be closer to conversational German than the Kernkorpus, which tends to be more formal. The question I asked a few days ago seems relevant for this.
    – RDBury
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 1:25
  • Note that none of the of the DWDS examples just breaks off after the "er ist" like your first sentence does. The "ist" is always followed by some expression of what he is. Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


If you look at the examples from DWDS, you see that the finite forms of the verb "sein" are almost always followed by something. "Er ist" without a complement is not completely ungrammatical, for instance it might occur in a religious or philosophical text where the author differentiates between "er ist" and "er existiert". It may also contrast with "er war", say "War dein Vater krank? – Er war nicht, er ist [krank]." In everyday speech, however, it sounds usually strange.

On the other hand, "ist er" is fine, because it can be interpreted as an ellipsis: "[Das] ist er."

  • 2
    I think technically neither version is grammatically correct, so it's a question of which deviations from the rules of grammar you can get away with in informal German. Having "He is" without a complement is allowable in English, but doesn't mean German is similar and that Er ist doesn't need a complement.
    – RDBury
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 2:12
  • 2
    Yeah it would be either "ja, er ist (für dich)" or "ja, (das) ist er" and in usual speech it's more common to drop the "das" than the rest of the sentence this just sound uncomfortably incomplete.
    – haxor789
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 10:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.