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I came across this interesting sentence:

Gehen Sie ebenfalls denen aus dem Weg, die stets mit ihrem Wissen angeben und die Sie genauso verunsichern.

Unless I'm mistaken, the denen here is supposed to refer to the two dies, which come after. In English, to my knowledge, this is not possible because it can cause readers to wonder what the relative pronoun is referring to (if they don't continue reading). But in German language, this can be.

Is my assumption correct?

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  • You got it wrong. The two dies are relative pronouns while denen is a demonstrative pronoun that those relative pronouns refer to.
    – Janka
    Apr 21, 2023 at 20:31

1 Answer 1

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Grammatically, it's the other way around, the relative pronouns "die" refer to the demonstrative pronoun "denen".

However, semantically, you are completely right: "denen" is no more than a stand-in for a set of people who are later fully defined by the two relative clauses.

You could even say that "denen" is just a lazy replacement for the more accurate "denjenigen" here.

You can translate this to English quite literally:

Also steer clear of those who constantly show off their knowledge and who ...

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  • The answer is clear and correct but I still wonder why denen is lazy or denjenigen more accurate.
    – David Vogt
    Apr 21, 2023 at 21:08
  • @DavidVogt You have a point there. I meant that denjenigen only has this one meaning, to stand in for what can be expected to be defined later, while jenen is just your standard demonstrative pronoun that could also refer to a group of people that has been mentioned earlier, and it doesn't necessarily create the expectation of a later definition. In a given context that's probably seldom a cause of confusion though.
    – HalvarF
    Apr 21, 2023 at 23:27
  • It would be great if they just used "den Leute", then everything would be crystal-clear. But here, when I encounter "denen", I immediately think: "Heh, what is this referred to?". Apr 22, 2023 at 7:40

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