Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz, das / der scharf schmeckt (Relativsatz)

Nicodimo

Member
Español de Montevideo
I have read this sentence in a german course:

Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz, das scharf schmeckt.

Why is "das" used? If the thing that tastes spicy is "Der Pfeffer"... right? Wouldn't it be more correct to say:

Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz, der scharf schmeckt.

... ?

In general: What is the rule to select the relative pronoun when the main sentence has two subjects?

Thanks.
 
  • Hutschi

    Senior Member
    It is related to "Gewürz".

    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz (neuter), das scharf schmeckt. (Principle of short binding in German grammar - this means that usually the shortest possible relation distance is correct.) Additionally it relates to "spice" because it defines the kind of spice.

    The logic is:

    Pepper is a spice that is sharp.







    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz, der scharf schmeckt. :cross: (This does not work.)
    If you want to say directly that pepper is sharp, following works:

    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz. Er schmeckt scharf.
     

    Nicodimo

    Member
    Español de Montevideo
    It is related to "Gewürz".

    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz (neuter), das scharf schmeckt. (Principle of short binding in German grammar - this means that usually the shortest possible relation distance is correct.) Additionally it relates to "spice" because it defines the kind of spice.

    The logic is:

    Pepper is a spice that is sharp.







    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz, der scharf schmeckt. :cross: (This does not work.)
    If you want to say directly that pepper is sharp, following works:

    Pfeffer ist ein Gewürz. Er schmeckt scharf.

    Thanks, Hutschi. Your explanation is very clear.​

     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    It’s the same in Spanish. I can’t demonstrate this using “la pimienta” and “la especia” because they’re both feminine, so I’ll substitute a different spice:

    El azafrán es una especia con la que :tick: (con el que :cross:) cocino mucho.

    By the way, they’re not both subjects. Only “Pfeffer” is the subject. But it doesn’t matter which one is the subject. What matters is what word the relative clause is modifying. That word is “Gewürz.”
     
    Last edited:

    Seiryuu

    Senior Member
    Canada; English
    As a related question, what if the restrictive clause is being applied to the pepper and not the spice? I've heard that "Pfeffer, der scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" ("Pepper that is spicy is a spice") is grammatically correct, but I'm guessing putting the relative clause at the end would make it too far from the subject being modified.
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    "Pfeffer, der scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" ("Pepper that is spicy is a spice") is grammatically correct [...] putting the relative clause at the end would make it too far from the subject being modified.
    :thumbsup:
    Cf:
    II. Where to position the relative clauses in the sentence
    This is easy: the relative clause always mostly comes right after the noun it is describing.

    *A minor exception: “dangling verbs”
    There is one exception to the above rule: if placing the relative clause right after “its” noun in this way would leave the verb in the main clause dangling at the end of the sentence by itself, the resulting sentence would be awkward to comprehend. In such cases, the verb is usually moved in front of the relative clause.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Pfeffer, der scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" - this is not relevant information, because of:
    "Pfeffer, der nicht scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" can be true, too.

    It does give wrong impression.

    "Scharf" is only part of "würzig".
    I have pepper that is mild.
     

    Seiryuu

    Senior Member
    Canada; English
    "Pfeffer, der scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" - this is not relevant information, because of:
    "Pfeffer, der nicht scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz" can be true, too.
    My question, though it isn't true in real life, was asked as a theoretical example because I wanted to know if the relative clause could be applied elsewhere besides directly after the noun it modifies, which JClaudeK helpfully provided an answer to.
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    As a related question, what if the restrictive clause is being applied to the pepper and not the spice? I've heard that "Pfeffer, der scharf schmeckt, ist ein Gewürz"
    I would always interpret this sentence as a non-restrictive relative clause, never as a restrictive relative clause.
    ("Pepper that is spicy is a spice")
    Hence, the only possible translation into English would be one with commas and which as a relative pronoun:

    Pepper, which is spicy, is a spice.

    … or stylistically preferable, although still tautological:

    Being spicy, pepper is a spice.
     

    Nicodimo

    Member
    Español de Montevideo
    It’s the same in Spanish. I can’t demonstrate this using “la pimienta” and “la especia” because they’re both feminine, so I’ll substitute a different spice:

    El azafrán es una especia con la que :tick: (con el que :cross:) cocino mucho.

    By the way, they’re not both subjects. Only “Pfeffer” is the subject. But it doesn’t matter which one is the subject. What matters is what word the relative clause is modifying. That word is “Gewürz.”
    Thanks a lot. The comparison with Spanish, in this example, is very appropriate. You are very right.
     
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