Es haben nicht alle das Glück

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by AnnaJDT, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. AnnaJDT

    AnnaJDT Senior Member

    Hello everyone!

    I am getting closer to writing my first message in German here (600 words + grammar and making progress, my goal is to reach at least 1000 and improve grammar). Part of this is also owed to you!
    Until then, I still need some help from time to time. Suggested phrase (*):

    "Es haben nicht alle das Glück". (meaning: Not all have that luck...)

    The real subject of this phrase is "alle", hence why we say "es haben..." and not "es hat...".

    My questions are 1. what is the syntactic function of "es"?

    2. And why don't we write: "Alle haben nicht das Glück"

    My assumption is it's possible to phrase * (correctly) in different ways, while the word order in each case emphasises/stresses a certain idea.
    But still not sure about the role of "es", or whether it's just a "fill" word, that might as well be dropped.

    Thank you and best regards,
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
  2. Demiurg

    Demiurg Senior Member

    Well, as you've said, the real subject is "(nicht) alle" (plural) therefore the finite verb form ("haben") must also be plural. "es" is simply a dummy subject. You could rephrase it as:

    Nicht alle haben das Glück.

    Your variant (Alle haben nicht das Glück) is syntactically also possible but not idiomatic.
  3. newg

    newg Senior Member

    London, UK
    Could we say:

    Das Glück haben es nicht alle ?
  4. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    I think it is both syntactically correct and idiomatic, but it means sth. totally different:

    Alle haben nicht das Glück.
    All are not lucky.
    Niemand hat hat Glück.
    Nobody is lucky.

    I also think that it is a strange logic to say in English:

    All that glitters is not gold!

    ... , as this is simply not true: Gold glitters too and it really is gold!

    I prefer the German version:
    Es ist nicht alles Gold was glänzt.

    Why do we start with a dummy subject here, instead of using the real subject "in the first place";)?

    This is for reasons of topic-comment hierachy: The topic of alles/alle, by nature, is very general and therefore also very vague. The topic has not been introduced in the preceding context, so we can't start with that subject.

  5. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    The es would be useless in a position other than the first position of the sentence. The only purpose it serves is to prevent the real subject from becoming the topic of the sentence, otherwise, in the third position after the verb, it would be understood as an object.
  6. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    The dummy subject "Es" is used by formal reasons to make sure that the (finite) verb is at the second place.

    If you remove it, it is possible only in special coll. situations with a certain style:

    "Kam ein Mann zum Arzt und sagte ..." (Jokes)
    "Haben nicht alle soviel Glück!" murmelte ein Besucher.

    I have forgotten how to call this style, it is seldom but sometimes you find it in literature, mostly in jokes.

    When learning German you should not use this style if you do not know where it is possible.

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