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I have been learning more on the "da"- and "wo"- words. One common theme learning them is that there is a preceding contextual sentence or main clause that has the preposition that is used in the corresponding "da"- word. Such as:

Erinnerst du das Bild an der Wand? Ja, ich erinnere mich daran.

Erinnerst du dich das Bild an der Wand? Ja, ich erinnere mich daran.

I have been looking at news articles to find "real" example uses and I came across this one here:

Dass sie es nicht tun, deutet darauf hin, dass es Interessen gibt, die die Menschenrechte überwiegen.

What is darauf referring to and how would I have known in context to use "darauf" as opposed to "daran" or "dazu?"

https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/politik-gesellschaft/proteste-im-iran-baerbock-und-scholz-machen-dieselben-fehler-nochmal-li.269788

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    It should probably be "Erinnerst du dich an das Bild an der Wand?" That would fit the answer.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 7:39
  • These constructions actually exist in English, too, with words such as thereof, whereby, etc. You'll notice that there = da in German, and where = wo, so they work almost exactly the same. Of course, the only one still in common informal use in English is therefore, and German has many more such words, but still, the principle is the same. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 5:25
  • @CarstenS Could you point me to the grammar rule regarding that? That would be helpful. Commented Oct 1, 2022 at 17:31
  • It's just how the verb "erinnern" works. dwds.de/wb/erinnern Also, you mention a corresponding proposition in the preceding sentence, but there is none, so I assumed that you made a mistake when copying the sentence.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Oct 1, 2022 at 17:42
  • After some looking I was actually trying to find more about "Reflexive Verbs". I didn't know that was something to be aware of. Commented Oct 1, 2022 at 18:10

2 Answers 2

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You write:

One common theme learning them is that there is a preceding contextual sentence or main clause that has the preposition that is used in the corresponding "da"- word.

This assumption is wrong. But even if it were true, how would you know what preposition to use in the preceding sentence?

Combinations of da(r) with a preposition are known as Präpositionaladverbien and have several functions, one of them being "pronominal", i.e. referring back to something given in the context.

Denk doch an die Prüfung! – Daran denke ich jetzt noch nicht.

Here, daran clearly means an die Prüfung, and one could in fact substitute one for the other. It might look like daran is used because there is an in the preceding sentence. However, that is not the case:

Ich mache mir jetzt schon Sorgen wegen der Prüfung. – Daran denke ich jetzt noch nicht.

In that exchange, daran would also be interpreted as an die Prüfung. So what determines the choice of (dar)an in the second sentence, if it isn't determined by the preceding sentence? There is some element in the sentence demanding that specific preposition, in this case the verb.

Verbs can have prepositional objects (Präpositionalobjekte).

Ich denke an die Prüfung.
Wartest du auf den Bus?
Die Chefin hat sich über dein Verhalten geärgert.

These prepositional objects can be realised by Präpositionaladverbien.

Wann repariert dein Vermieter denn das Fenster?
– Darauf (= dass er das Fenster repariert) warten wir jetzt seit Wochen.

Du hast gestern wieder das Licht angelassen. Die Chefin hat sich darüber (= dass du das Licht angelassen hast) geärgert.

Turning back to your examples.

Erinnerst du das Bild an der Wand? Ja, ich erinnere mich daran.

Leaving aside the fact that most native speakers would prefer erinnerst du dich an das Bild an der Wand, note that daran is interpreted as (an) das Bild an der Wand, i.e. referring to the painting and not the wall; so you, perhaps unintentionally, gave an example where the preposition an could not have been determined by the preceding sentence.

Dass sie es nicht tun, deutet darauf hin, dass es Interessen gibt, die die Menschenrechte überwiegen.

This sentence illustrates a second use of Präpositionaladverbien: They are used as Korrelate, i.e. they indicate that a clause follows (or precedes) and that that clause is to be understood as the object of the verb.

Alles deutet auf Diebstahl hin.
Alles deutet darauf hin, dass das Bild gestohlen wurde.

The preposition (dar)auf is demanded by hindeuten (DWDS). As above, other verbs have other prepositions, e.g. warten auf:

Wir warten auf Besserung.
Wir warten darauf, dass es besser wird.

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While there might be some general rules, certain verbs require one or three other. In this particular case you have to know the usage of the verb 'auf etwas hindeuten'. As you see, it requires the use of 'auf', so there is no other choice here. The'darauf' refers to the action in the initial subordinate clause.

It is similar with many other verbs: one has to learn how they are constructed:

Erinnern an etwas

Hindeuten auf etwas

Auf etwas eingehen

Von etwas abhängen

Etc etc

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