An example from the Dartmouth page on relative clauses:

Was mich ärgert, ist, dass sie sich nicht entschuldigt hat.

Why is there a comma before the 'ist'? The comma before 'dass' makes sense (since it's the start of a relative clause), but I would think that 'ist' is part of the first clause.

3 Answers 3


The sentence has the simple base structure

[subject] ist [object]. → verb is ist

The object is the clause

, dass sie sich nicht entschuldigt hat → verb is sich entschuldigt haben

The subject is the clause

Was mich ärgert, → verb is ärgern

All clauses need to be split from the main clause by commas, also the first one ending on ärgert.


The first comma denotes the end of a dependent clause (I think it is called "open relative clause"). I'll rearrange the parts

Das, was mich ärgert, ist, dass sie...


I just want to mention a rule of thumb:

Separate any clauses that contain a conjugated verb from each other with a comma.

In your example there are three conjugated verbs: "ärgert", "ist" and "hat". Hence, you need two commas.

Note, I'm not saying that you should blindly set a bunch of commas whenever you see two or more conjugated verbs. For instance, a comma may be replaced with a conjunction and then it'd be wrong to use a comma.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.