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Jetzt ist das fünf Jahr her.

I found this sentence in a documentary I was seeing. What does "her" at the end mean? What grammatical object is it?

Some source say it is adverb, if so, shouldn't it be right after "ist?"

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    What remains unclear after consulting a dictionary? Oct 8, 2022 at 22:59
  • If tahat is an adverb, then why did it go to the end? Shouldn't adverb be close to verb @infinitezero Oct 8, 2022 at 23:53
  • But it is. The V2 rule is the last rule applied. So from the view of all other word order rules, the conjugated verb is at the end of the clause. Compare a dependent clause: … weil das jetzt fünf Jahre her ist.
    – Janka
    Oct 9, 2022 at 2:12
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    Close voters: Since the question asks about word order, it cannot be answered by a dictionary. Also, many dictionaries do not make explicit that the construction is idiomatic (the English Wiktionary linked above is a great example; simply saying that her means ago would imply that fünf Jahre her war ich noch in der Schule was acceptable).
    – David Vogt
    Oct 9, 2022 at 9:17

2 Answers 2

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Duden has her sein as a multiword expression, which indicates that the combination is idiomatic, i.e. not derivable from general rules alone.

Her combines with a temporal accusative or lang(e) to form the subject complement of sein:

Lange her ist das nicht.
This wasn't long ago.

obwohl das schon wieder einen Monat her ist
although this was a month ago

Note that the verb is in present tense.

As far as word order is concerned, subject complements generally tend to appear "at the end"; see for instance the section "I.e. The Predicate Nominative and Predicate Adjective" in the article on word order in main clauses at Dartmouth (predicative here means the same as subject complement).

As Janka points out, this position "at the end" is to be considered "close to the verb" in German. This is shown by verb-final clauses such as the example with obwohl above, or when a modal is added in a main clause.

Das muss jetzt aber wirklich schon lange her gewesen sein.
But that must really have been a long time ago.

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  • Still studying ideas from the site. First time I am encoutnering concepts you mentioned (idk how I even got this far without ever being aware about these stuffs lol) Oct 9, 2022 at 21:24
  • In the last sentence you wrote, how would the word order change if you dropped the her? Oct 9, 2022 at 21:48
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    Leaving out her would completely change the meaning. If lang can be interpreted as the subject complement, it will remain at the right: das Meeting muss aber wirklich lang gewesen sein. If lang(e) is an adverbial of time, it will appear further to the left: er muss aber wirklich lange krank gewesen sein (with krank as the subject complement). Note that word order in these instances does not depend on part of speech, but on the syntactic function (subject complement vs. adverbial).
    – David Vogt
    Oct 9, 2022 at 22:36
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It's an adverb of time, similar to since in English.

Jetzt ist das fünf Jahre her.

It has been five years since.

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