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Follow up to this post. I became interested in the title of this question, when the following exercise came in workbook:

Rearrange the following and form a sentence:

besonders-die Sommermonate der Jahre 1350 bis 1370 extrem regenreich- sein - während dieser Zeitspanne-in, Deutschland- die meisten Menschen- der Pest- erliegen

C-Grammatik,1.1.12

When I made the sentence, I treated the besonders like an adverb and did something like so:

besonders war die Sommermonate...

but according the solution manual, I should have used it instead as an adjective,

Besonders die Sommermonate der Jahre 1350 bis 1370 waren...

What is the difference in meaning between these two usages? Is there something general that we can say about words the meaning difference of words which double adjective and adverbs when they are use as adverb vs adjectives?

3 Answers 3

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Focus adverbs ("auch", "sogar", "besonders" etc.) like to stand close to the thing they focus on. In your first construction, "besonders" might qualify any of the elements of the following verb phrase. If you put it into the Vorfeld as in the second example, it's clear that it qualifies the time span ("Sommermonate").

Contrast with adverbs like "außerdem", which always qualify entire phrases, and therefore have no problem attaching to the verb.

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  • what are "focus adverbs" exactly?
    – Babu
    Jul 16, 2023 at 19:48
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First off, the phrase "adverbial object" is contradictory (an oxymoron, I guess). An object is never an adverbial.


To answer the question,

"Besonders" can be an adverb or focus particle (following Duden Grammar).
Note that a particle is not an adverb, but its own class.

Besonders die Sommermonate...

"Besonders" is a focus particle (sometimes even counted as an attribute by some grammars) to "die Sommermonate". This means it modifies just that. It does not say anything about the summer months other than in comparison to other type of months, something is true about the summer months especially - but other months can be of that quality too, just not to the extent of the summer months.

Besonders waren die Sommermonate...

Since you wrote that you intended this to be an adverb, I suppose you thought of something like this:

Ich war im Supermarkt.

However, this is a prepositional object. Your "besonders" has no preposition. It is just a modal adverbial. You can't use it like this.

You could interpret it as an adjective: "The summer months were special".
Even then, it is thought to be an adverb with its adjective it refers to omitted. A bit like "especially", just that it is okay to leave out the "gut" (or whatever is left out), it is still understood.

Besonders [gut] waren die Sommermonate.
Especially [good] were the summer months.

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  • "it is thought to be an adverb with its adjective it refers to omitted." pretty interesting
    – Babu
    Jul 17, 2023 at 8:16
  • @SBrian Yes. It is never an adjective. Jul 17, 2023 at 8:29
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"Besonders" is not good as an adverbial at clause level, I prefer "insbesondere" in that function. The solution likewise says that "besonders" should be part of the phrase "besonders die Sommermonate...", so you get a noun phrase around Sommermonate plus Emphasis.

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  • fair points , while this is useful information, not sure how this can help
    – Babu
    Jul 17, 2023 at 8:16

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