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Given the following example:

Reisen ist einer der attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit.

My questions:

  1. Is "Reisen" the subject?
  2. Is "Aspekte" an object in accusative case?
  3. The ending of the adjective "attrakivsten" is -en. Is it because it is in accusative case or because it is in plural?
  4. Why is it "einer"? Does it refer to "bei meiner Arbeit"?

Similarly:

Berlin ist wieder das wirkliche Zentrum von Deutschland.

Has the adjective "wirklich" the ending -e, because "Zentrum" is consider as Object in accusative case?

Thank you very much!

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3 Answers 3

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Here is a translation of the sentence:

Reisen ist einer der attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit.
Travel is one of the most attractive aspects of my work.

This sentence has a really complicated grammatically structure, so let's answer your questions first and let's then have a closer look to the details.

  1. Is "Reisen" the subject?
    Yes.
  2. Is "Aspekte" an object in accusative case?
    No and no. (It's neither an object nor in accusative case)
  3. The ending of the adjective "attraktivsten" is -en. Is it because it is in accusative case or because it is in plural?
    No, none of you assumptions is correct. It is a superlative.
  4. Why is it "einer"? Does it refer to "bei meiner Arbeit"?
    No. This word means »one«, so it's a numeral and numerals do not refer to anything. (Pronouns refer to other things, but numerals and pronouns are different categories of words.) Numerals just count things. (Well, you could define counting as some kind of reference, but that's not what reference usually means in grammar.)

Now for the details:

When ever you have a verb that is a copula (i.e. a "coupling verb" like sein = to be; werden = to become, bleiben = to stay) then there is a high change, that you find two parts of speech in nominative case in the sentence. One is the subject, that exists in all sentences (with very rare exceptions) and the other is a so-called »Gleichsetzungsnominativ« (equative nominative). If this is the case, then the sentence expresses, that two things are equal. This is the case here, and the two equal things are:1

  • Reisen = Travel
  • einer der attraktivsten Aspekte = one of the most attractive aspects

The core of the equative nominative group is the numeral »einer« So this is already a grammatically correct and complete German sentence:

Reisen ist einer. (Travel is one.)

But it contains almost no information on the semantic level. So, you add an attribute to »einer«, and here we have another nominal group that is this attribute, but when a nominal group is an attribute of something else, then this group appears in genitive case. Here are some examples. Everything that is marked bold is a nominal group that is used as an attribute and it is in genitive case.:

Hier ist der Hut. → Hier ist der Hut meines Vaters.
Ganz oben auf der Speisekarte steht das Gericht. → Ganz oben auf der Speisekarte steht das Gericht des Tages.
Beim Überqueren fiel plötzlich der Motor aus. → Beim Überqueren des Ärmelkanals fiel plötzlich der Motor aus.
Einer stand plötzlich vor meiner Tür. → Einer der Soldaten stand plötzlich vor meiner Tür.

Such attributes are not grammatically necessary, but they often contain important information and may even be the most important part of a sentence from a semantic point of view.

The last examples show an often used pattern: One of many. You name a group in the genitive attribute, and the thing, of which this is the attribute, is just the word one or in German: eine, einer or eines. And there is always another way to express the same meaning, and this works also in English:

eines der Kinder = ein Kind
one of the children = one child

einer der Männer = ein Mann
one of the men = one man

eine der Frauen = eine Frau
one of the women = one woman

But when you use the version with the attribute, you emphasize, that the one is a part of many of the same kind:

  • Here you are not mentioning any other aspects at all:

    Reisen ist der attraktivste Aspekt bei meiner Arbeit.
    Travel is the most attractive aspect of my work.

  • Here you add, that there are also many other attractive aspects:

    Reisen ist einer der attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit.
    Travel is one of the most attractive aspects of my work.


The adjective attraktiv is a comparable adjective:

degree of comparison German English
positive attraktiv attractive
comparative attraktiver more attractive
superlative (am) attraktivsten most attractive

When you use the superlative form, you need the word am only in predicative and adverbial usage:

  • predicative (connected to the subject by a copula verb):

    Sabine ist am attraktivsten.

  • adverbial (attribute of a verb):

    Sabine lächelt am attraktivsten.

But when a superlative is used attributive, then you don't need »am«:

  • attributive (attribute of a noun and together with that noun in the same nominal group):

    Sabine ist die attraktivste Frau.


Berlin ist wieder das wirkliche Zentrum von Deutschland.

Has the adjective "wirklich" the ending -e, because "Zentrum" is consider as Object in accusative case?

No. Zentrum is not in accusative case, but again part of a Gleichsetzungsnominativ (equality nominative) and therefore in nominative case. So also the attributive adjective is inflected in nominative case.

Here are the five grammatical properties that influence the declension of adjectives:

  1. Comparison (positiv, comparativ or superlative?)
    Here: positiv (no comparison)
  2. Definiteness or degree of declension
    In German we have strong, weak and mixed declension of adjectives. This depends on whether there is an article or not, and if there is one, if its a definite article (like "the" in English) or an indefinite article (like "a" or "an" in English). Here we have the definite article »das«, and having a definite article means that you must use weak declension.
  3. Grammatical number (singular or plural)
    Here we have: singular (only one Zentrum = center)
  4. Grammatical gender of the noun (masculine, feminine or neuter)
    This category applies only if the number is singular. But this is the case here. So, we must know the gender of the noun »Zentrum«. It is neuter, and so also the adjective must be declined neuter.
  5. Grammatical case (nominative, genitive, dative or accusative)
    We already found out the case: it is nominative.

And the nominative neuter singular weak positive declension of »wirklich« is:

wirkliche


1 The prepositional phrase »bei meiner Arbeit« is also interesting but not topic of your question. It is neither an object of the verb (copulas don't take objects (except for free dative objects)) nor an attribute of »einer« or »Aspekte«. It is an adverbial part of speech that provides a context for the whole sentence.

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  • I was proofreading my answer when I noticed you posted yours, but I went ahead and posted mine anyway, though obviously they cover a lot of the same ground. To me the most significant difference is that I consider "einer" to be a pronoun while the numeral is "eins". I think this is just a matter of terminology though. Even though it's not part of the original question the use of "bei" here instead of another preposition is hard for me to explain. Normally it would be translated "at" or "with", but the resulting English sentence wouldn't really work.
    – RDBury
    Sep 1, 2023 at 9:10
  • @Hubert Schölnast, thank you for your comprehensive, and extended answer. Not only you've made proper correction to my original question to make it grammatically correct, but also I was given an extensive lecture on Deutsch Grammatik. I will read your comment over and over again in trying my best to understand it. I do have a follow up question, given "einer der attraktivsten Aspekte" I came across to another phrase "….., so dass ich natürlich in der Schule eine der Besten im Schwimmunterlicht war." The context is about eine Frau , is that the reason why eine is used?
    – Donald
    Sep 1, 2023 at 10:36
  • and I want to say Hallo to St. Pölten too, I was there one time about 12 years ago, and this July I have visited Linz. Both cities are very nice!
    – Donald
    Sep 1, 2023 at 10:42
  • @Donald: Yes, it's eine for feminine words (»eine teure Gabel; eine der teuersten Gabeln«). Note, that this is about the grammatical gender, not about the biological sexus of a person. The German word for girl is the neuter word »Mädchen«. So, this is wrong because its the feminine form for a neuter noun: »eine der besten Mädchen«. It must be the neuter form: »eines der besten Mädchen«. - Btw: From your comment I can read, that you liked my answer. So I wonder, why this answer got a negative rating. Sep 2, 2023 at 6:51
  • @Donald: If you want to visit Austrian cities, neither St. Pölten nor Linz are good choices. Most of Linz belongs to two industrial companies (Chemie Linz and steel producer Voest-Alpine) and St. Pölten is known for being extremely boring. (When Austrian comedians make jokes about something being boring, they always compare it to St. Pölten). Linz and St. Pölten are still much nicer than many other cities (I was in Gelsenkirchen in Germany last year: better not go there), but you really should visit Vienna. There is a reason why so many tourists go to Vienna, and why almost no ... Sep 2, 2023 at 7:16
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The translation is "Travel is one of the most attractive aspects of my job." The English and German versions parse very similarly, but German has all those cases and declensions you need to keep track of. The subject is "Reisen", the noun form of the verb "reisen". English usually requires that you add "-ing" to turn a verb into a noun, though not in the case of "travel" for some reason. In German you just capitalize the first letter. The verb is "sein", which doesn't always take an object, but when it does the object is in the nominative case. The object in this case is the entire phrase "einer der attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit". To break this this down we have a set of things "die attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit", and we want to pick out one of them. This requires the pronoun "einer". Note that this is related to, but not the same as the indefinite article "ein" and the numeral "eins". In English you say "one of" to select one from a set, but in German you can use the genitive case for the group (not "einer" which is still nominative), so the group becomes "der attraktivsten Aspekte bei meiner Arbeit". The basic noun here is "der Aspekt", but it's genitive plural so "der Aspekte". We're applying the adjective "attraktiv", but superlative so add an "-st" suffix, and since there is a definite article and the noun is plural there is an additional "-en" ending. So "der attraktivsten Aspekte". Finally, we're restricting the universe of "attractive aspects" to those associated with "my job". In theory you could use the genitive case again to do this, but using two genitives in tandem seems awkward so a preposition is used instead, in this case "bei". As with many prepositions, "bei" has many meanings and it's not always clear to an English speaker why one preposition is chosen over another. It's unusual to translate "bei" as "of" but it can happen. In any case, "bei" is a dative preposition so the dative is used for its object. "Arbiet" is feminine so the dative feminine "-er" ending is added to the possessive "meiner".

This all seems very complicated at first, but most of it boils down to understanding when to use the various cases and how to apply declension rules. Actually the accusative case is the only case not used. In your second sentence, again there is no accusative and "das Zentrum" is nominative case. The "-e" ending for "wirklich" would be there either way though, and it's because there is a definite article. The rules for declining German adjectives are infamously complex; you have to consider not only gender and case, but also what precedes the adjective. There is an underlying theory that explains the declension rules, but you can look up the relevant ending in declension tables. For example in the Wiktionary entry you can find the declined form in the singular neuter column and the weak nominative row.

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  • @RDBury, really thank you for your reply. It is very comprehensive. My questions are being tackled and cleared. Thank you!! It did took me a while, in order to understand the context properly, not because of your wording, but because of my comprehension. I do have a follow up question, given "einer der attraktivsten Aspekte" I came across to another phrase "….., so dass ich natürlich in der Schule eine der Besten im Schwimmunterlicht war." The context is about eine Frau , is that the reason why eine is used? –
    – Donald
    Sep 1, 2023 at 10:40
  • 1
    @Carsten S - Yes, I should know that by now. I'll fix by answer.
    – RDBury
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:28
  • @Donald - I think so. As a pronoun "einer" would match the gender and case of the thing/person you're talking about. The verb is "sein" so nominative case, and so it's m-"einer", f-"eine", n-"eines". There is no plural, which makes sense if you think about it.
    – RDBury
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:41
  • Thanks @ RDBury, thank you for the explanation! And thanks for re-inforcing of my understanding! Much appreciated!
    – Donald
    Sep 2, 2023 at 13:20
-1

Is "Reisen" the subject?

Yes, more or less. In fact the main (barebone) part of the sentence is:

Reisen ist einer.

or

Reisen ist ein Aspekt.

"Reisen" is in Nominativ and "einer" ("ein Aspekt) is, too. Sentences of the form "A ist B" could equally be phrased "B ist A". This is called "Gleichsetzungsnominativ" and you can find more information about it and why this not counts as an (Nominativ-)Objekt (nowadays - I learned in school that these are Objekte in Nominativ, but since then german grammatics is seen differently) here (in German).

Is "Aspekte" an object in accusative case?

No. It is in Genitiv (Plural) and belongs to "einer" - "einer der Aspekte" - "one of the aspects".

The ending of the adjective "attrakivsten" is -en. Is it because it is in accusative case or because it is in plural?

No. Since there is an Artikel ("der") the schwache Deklination (weak declension) is used. Would there be no Artikel one would use starke Deklination (strong declension) and it would be "attraktivster Aspekte".

Why is it "einer"? Does it refer to "bei meiner Arbeit"?

No. It refers to "Aspekte". "Aspekt" is masculine, hence "der". There are several aspects (to my work) and one of them - one of the (group of) most attractive ones - is this aspect.

Bonus Info: the "bei" isn't needed and should be left out, IMHO. "Meiner Arbeit" is then a normal Genitiv, "ein [...] Aspekt meiner Arbeit".

Reisen ist einer der attraktivsten Aspekte meiner Arbeit.

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  • Hello @bakunin, thanks for the detail answer. Your answer is definitely useful to me, but don't know what it got a -1 rating. and I couldn't make it a positive one, as the system say that I need to be at least 15 reputation to cast a vote. Back to the the details answer, I am very appreciated the way you gave me, with a differeent perspective of addressing my problem, that makes me understand the context even further. Thank you!!
    – Donald
    Sep 2, 2023 at 13:25

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