ein Gefühl, dass dir etwas fehlt

  • JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    Why should we use Dir in this sentence instead of Du
    The expression is "jemandem (dative object) fehlt etwas (subject)*" (see fehlen), so you must put the pronoun "du" in the dative:

    mir fehlt etwas/ etwas fehlt mir
    dir fehlt etwas/ etwas fehlt dir
    ihm/ ihr
    fehlt etwas/ etwas fehlt ihm/ ihr

    * the construction is quite different from "to miss sth." or "to lack sth".
    Last edited:


    German (Germany)
    The subject of the subordinate clause is etwas. Dir is a dative object. This is subordinate word order. The main clause word order from which this is derived is
    Dir fehlt etwas.
    German has no word order rule that requires the subject to come first. Subject and object are distinguished by case and not by position. As a rule of thumb, what is more important comes first and that is in this case dir.


    Senior Member
    dass dir etwas fehlt.
    Note that this is a subordinated clause introduced with "dass".
    "Etwas" is nominative. "Dir" is dative. This is the same as in a main clause.
    Difference: "finite Verb at second position" is replaced by "finite Verb at last position" in this subordinate clause.
    The word order:
    dass dir etwas fehlt. (default order)
    dass etwas dir fehlt. (Very seldom, it is strongly marked. I am not sure that this is right.

    Bernd gave the main clause order already in #4.
    Claude gave the answer to Why should we use Dir in this sentence instead of Du? in #2.

    Note that "dir fehlt etwas" has different meanings. Bearded gave one in #2 where it is literally in context of (missing) things.

    Another very common meaning is: "That you are ill"/that you feel ill."
    In case of "ein Gefühl, dass dir etwas fehlt" I think it is the second meaning by default. (illness)
    It can be you miss a thing you need, but there has to be context.

    Example for "I have the feeling you feel ill. ..."
    Ich habe das Gefühlt, dass dir etwas fehlt. Fühlst du dich gut? Kann ich dir helfen?

    Edit: I marked topics bold.