Wer sind Sie? Correct??
Wer scheint zu kommen? (singular)Another verb that might take a plural "who"/"wer", for similar reasons, is "seem"/"scheinen":
Who seem_ to be his friends?
Wer scheinen seine Freunde zu sein?
For me, the English is correct, and the German should be too.
I suppose one would argue that in this case, "his friends" and "seine Freunde" are the subjects.
Another verb that might take a plural "who"/"wer", for similar reasons, is "seem"/"scheinen":
I think we're actually both right. I agree that who/wer is not the subject of these sentences (see above), but is predicative and therefore nominative.... So it is not the verb scheinen which has this property. The peculiarity of the sentences wer sind sie/wer scheinen sie zu sein seems to be that wer is not the subject of the sentences. Here wer stands for predicative nouns and is therefore in nominative.
Thanks for the additional verbs. Yes, there are more ways to get a non-subject wer than I realized. wollen would seem to be another good example.I wouldn't call it 'unusual' really. Wer glauben (denken, annehmen, vorgeben, können) sie (zu) sein? are similar examples and this is by no means an exhaustive list. None of these require wer to be the subject.
I honestly think you're making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself here. The answer is quite simple: In all of these cases the nominative wer is related to zu sein which commands a predicative noun and this predicative noun is what wer stands for. The finite verbs (wollen, scheinen, etc) are irrelevant to this.Thanks for the additional verbs. Yes, there are more ways to get a non-subject wer than I realized. wollen would seem to be another good example.
3b is a very common thing to say. It is completely correct and idiomatic (provided "Sie" stands for a group of people and is not the formal "you" applied to a single person, of course).3b. Sie denken die reichsten Männer der Stadt zu sein.
3b sounds bad to me
We've never been in disagreement about that.The answer is quite simple: In all of these cases the nominative wer is related to zu sein which commands a predicative noun and this predicative noun is what wer stands for.
Well the finite verb has to be able to take (zu) sein as a complement. Not every verb can do that. But many can, as I've already acknowledged. (There are some facts about English that differ from German that led me to think the class was very constrained. PM if interested.)The finite verbs (wollen, scheinen, etc) are irrelevant to this.
3b sounds bad to me and I'm wondering if it is, or if English is leading me astray
Thanks! That's what I wanted to know. (In English you can't say They think/believe to be rich. One correct form is They think/believe themselves to be rich.)3b is a very common thing to say. It is completely correct and idiomatic
No, I would've judged it bad even with the comma.3b. Sie denken, die reichsten Männer der Stadt zu sein.
Shouldn't be a comma there? For me it looks bad without comma. Maybe this is what Dan2 meant. When I speak it, and there is no comma, it sounds bad for me, too.
Well just a minute... It would seem quite wrong to me to write Sie denken, sie haben einen Hund gesehen without a comma, even tho I write They think they ... in English. So my native language doesn't condemn me to a life of insensitivity to the rules of German comma placement.I think every German native speaker would use a comma here. But for an English speaker, the comma wouldn't make any sense there. The meanings of comma are quite different in German and English.
But you did write Sie denken die reichsten Männer der Stadt zu sein without a comma. For a German native speaker (at least one who learned comma rules prior to 1996) the missing comma sticks out like a sore thumb (not so much for me but I'm dyslexic, so I don't count).It would seem quite wrong to me to write Sie denken, sie haben einen Hund gesehen without a comma
No need to change your feeling. Since 1996, the comma has been optional (See here, §75.E2; rules §75.1 to §75.3 where the comma is mandatory don't apply to the sentence in question). But for people who went through German high school prior to 1996 it simply looks wrong without it.But you're right - I haven't mastered all the comma rules. I feel a strong need for a comma in Sie denken, sie haben ... but I feel uncertain about Sie scheinen(,) reich zu sein. You were right to assume that the missing comma was not the problem.