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Zu seinen wohl bekanntesten Werken zählt "Die Blechtrommel", in der Grass die Lebensgeschichte des kleinwüchsigen Oskar Matzerath auf surreale Weise erzählt.

I bracket the above sentence as so:

Zu seinen wohl bekanntesten Werken zählt "Die Blechtrommel", (in der Grass die Lebensgeschichte des kleinwüchsigen Oskar Matzerath) (auf surreale Weise) erzählt

In the above, the two bracketed prepositional phrases modify the first verb as adverbs. Is this always the case, that all the adverbs always modify the first verb like so, or is there a way to know if the second verb is the one being modified? Eg: erzählt is modified by "auf surreale Weise".

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  • Zu seinen wohl bekanntesten Werken zählt "Die Blechtrommel", [in der Grass (die Lebensgeschichte des kleinwüchsigen Oskar Matzerah) (auf surreale Weise) erzählt].
    – user6495
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:11
  • What do you mean by "first verb"? Moreover, the bracketing is incorrect. The verb "erzählt" is modified by two adverbials: the manner adverbial "auf surreale Weise", and the locative "in der" = darin. So: "in this book, die Blechtrommel" (= darin) he recounts the story "in a surreal way". The whole thing happens inside a relativ clause, that's why you have a clause-initial "in der" instead of "darin".
    – Alazon
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:15
  • The adverbial is usually placed before the verb it modifies. So if you wanted an adverbial to modify a second verb, you would simply place that adverbial before the second verb (or sometimes after it).
    – RHa
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:19
  • 1
    Could you please start using umlauts, or is there some accessibility issue preventing you from doing so?
    – Carsten S
    Aug 8, 2023 at 11:58
  • If you can’t use an alternative keymap, or otherwise modify your keyboard layout or editor of choice to produce proper umlauts, please use copy & paste – transcribing umlauts with {a,o,u}e ceased to be commonly acceptable with the death of the typewriter.
    – Ingmar
    Aug 8, 2023 at 12:23

1 Answer 1

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You have to take clauses into account, not sentences. Each clause has an independent verb phrase that may be modified by adverbials.

Your example sentence has two clauses. The main clause is:

Zu seinen wohl bekanntesten Werken zählt „Die Blechtrommel“, …

This clause features the phrasal verb zählen zu and its prepositional object is zu seinen wohl bekanntesten Werken.

Then there is a dependent clause. It's a relative clause that explains the main clause's subject „Die Blechtrommel“:

…, in der Grass die Lebensgeschichte des kleinwüchsigen Oskar Matzerath auf surreale Weise erzählt.

Here, there are two adverbials. For one, the locational adverbial in der Grass … Matzerath and the modal adverbial auf surreale Weise. Both modify the verb phrase erzählt.

(The reason why those adverbials don't follow the TeKaMoLo rule is the relative clause. Its first member has to connect to the thing in the outer clause that is explained. That's „Die Blechtrommel“, a book, and books are typically explained as a location, not as a mode.)

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  • "Tekamolo" doesn't work anyway...
    – Alazon
    Aug 8, 2023 at 11:52
  • How did you know that it indeed modifies erzählt? Aug 8, 2023 at 13:06
  • Because both adverbials are part of the relative clause.
    – Janka
    Aug 8, 2023 at 14:33

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