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I'm reading a tale and this phrase appeared: Damit konnte nur die alte Mine im Löcherberg gemeint sein!

I'm having trouble understanding it grammatically.

Is damit a "Präpositionaladverb" and, what is the meaning of gemeint sein?

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  • Yes, damit is a Präpositionaladverb, or in English, a Pro-Form. It is deictic or has anaphoric relation to the sentence before it. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 8:08
  • @ChristelleAugustin Please don't answer in comments.
    – Olafant
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 10:23
  • @Olafant I have, throughout StackExchanges of all sorts, always seen people that add some information in the comments. I do not understand how you see a problem in me doing so myself. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 12:19
  • @ChristelleAugustin This is not additional information, it's an answer to the question imho. Please have a look at: german.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1407/…
    – Olafant
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 17:48

2 Answers 2

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To expand a bit on the other answer, meinen mit seems to be a prepositional verb similar in meaning to English "mean by". For example:

  • Was meinen Sie mit "früh"? -- What do you mean by "early"?

Keep in mind that when you use a preposition with a demonstrative pronoun, the form is da- + the preposition. So meinen damit is "mean by that".

The verb meinen is the past participle used as a predicate adjective. So gemeint sein is "to be meant". Putting this together with damit gives "to be meant by that".

It's nearly parallel with English, with the main difference being that German combines prepositions with certain pronouns. English does this too, for example "thereby", but this is seen as legalese jargon by most speakers.

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  • Is this passive - why not then gemeint werden?
    – Roger V.
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 11:59
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    @RogerVadim Depends on the verb. "Gemeint werden" does not make any sense in any construction, because "meinen" is a stative verb: It describes not an action, but a state. The grass is mown -- Das Gras ist gemäht. It is therefore also known as "false passive" (informal name), because it's a bit misleading. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 12:30
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Gemeint sein translates to being meant.

Only the old mine in the Löcherberg could be meant by this.

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