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I'm currently having difficulty differentiating between demonstrative and relative pronouns.

Could you offer some guidance or examples to help me understand the distinctions between these two types of pronouns better?

For instance:

"Das Haus, das am Ende der Straße steht, ist alt."

"Diese Jacke, die ich gestern gekauft habe, ist zu groß."

"Der Hund, der vor dem Supermarkt liegt, gehört meinem Nachbarn."

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    Which two types of pronouns are you referring to? Feb 28 at 13:28
  • @BjörnFriedrich Relative pronoun and Demonstrative pronoun
    – lail lifey
    Feb 28 at 13:30
  • If you're talking about "der/die/das" and "dieser/diese/dieses", they are basically "the" and "this" in English.
    – meilun
    Feb 28 at 13:30
  • @meilun I'm currently having difficulty differentiating between demonstrative and relative pronouns
    – lail lifey
    Feb 28 at 13:31
  • Oh I understand, let me write up something real quick.
    – meilun
    Feb 28 at 13:33

1 Answer 1

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As der/die/das can both be used as relative as well as demonstrative, if the pronouns match up in the main and side clause, it can be confusing.

Looking at your first example, the sentence can be broken down into

Das Haus ist alt. (former main clause)

Das (Haus) steht am Ende der Straße. (former relative clause)

In both cases, Das Haus is the subject, which is why the pronouns are the same (they are also the same if Haus would be in Akkusativ, but that's not the point here). It's the same case with your third example.

Looking at your second example, the sentence can be broken down into

Diese Jacke ist zu groß. (former main clause)

Die (Jacke) habe ich gestern gekauft. (former relative clause)

or even

Ich habe die Jacke gestern gekauft.

Now, we have a case where Jacke is the object in the side clause, not the subject. The pronouns stay the same because unfortunately, die is also die in Akkusativ.

So if we switch Jacke with, say, der Tisch, which is den Tisch in Akkusativ, we would get

Dieser Tisch, den ich gestern gekauft habe, ist zu groß.

Here, "den" is the relative pronoun, and "dieser" would be the demonstrative pronoun, as it emphasizes this table. In your first example, the "das" from "das Haus" would be an Artikel, as it just indicates the gender of the word Haus and the grammar would be incorrect without it.

Going backwards, the sentence can be broken down into

Dieser Tisch ist zu groß. (former main clause)

Ich habe den Tisch gekauft. (former relative clause)

One way to distinguish relative pronouns would also be the fact that in side clauses, the verb is always at the end of the sentence.

I hope this clarified things in some way.

(Edit: Thank you tofro, added the part about the demonstrative pronoun)

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    In "Das Haus ist alt", the "das" is very likely an article instead of a demonstrative pronoun, a fact your answer unfortunately omitted completely.
    – tofro
    Feb 28 at 14:27

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