Wohin hast du die Zeitung gelegt?

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by archibaldworthington, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. archibaldworthington Senior Member

    American English
    ___________ hast du die Zeitung gelegt?

    I'm told to complete the above sentence. Is Wo or Wohin required? I think "To where did you put" sounds strange in English, but I don't think it makes sense to go based off of that. Which makes sense (wohin oder wo)?
  2. cuore romano

    cuore romano Senior Member

    Wohin hast du die Zeitung gelegt?
    Wo hast du die Zeitung hingelegt?
    The verb is hinlegen.
  3. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    No, the verb is legen in this case and the question word is wohin.
  4. cuore romano

    cuore romano Senior Member

    You're right.
    Sorry! :(
  5. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I agree. Hin is a genuine High German innovation with no equivalent in English. The only heuristic I could offer would be to look if the verb takes a locative or a directive adverbial in the answer: Wohin hast Du die Zeitung gelegt? Ich habe die Zeitung in die [not *in der] Schublade gelegt. To decide, if you should have said in die (i.e directive) or in der (i.e. locative), you could try to see if into fits in English: I put the newspaper in/into the drawer. If only in were possible then it would have been in der (i.e. locative) and the question would have started with wo. But since in and into are both possible, it has to be in die (i.e. directive) and the question has to start with wohin.
  6. Perseas Senior Member

    Could "in der Schublade" be locative and "in die Schublade" directive in the following way? For example:
    Ich habe die Zeitung in der Schublade gelegt: The newspaper is now exactly there.
    Ich habe die Zeitung in die Schublade gelegt
    : The direction was the drawer but maybe the newspaper is not inside now (maybe it is).
  7. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    "Legen" is not locativ in your sense.

    1. You have to use another word - like "ablegen".
    2. In the second case the handling is finished, and so the newspaper is inside the drawer.
  8. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    That is not how is works. Locative means where the action takes place, i.e. the location of the actor, i.e. ich. But it is the newspaper not me who is in the drawer. Now consider the sentence Die Zeitung liegt in der Schublade. Here die Zeitung is the actor and and the meaning of in der Schublade is therefore locative.
  9. Perseas Senior Member

    I had been learning German for 7 years and noone had ever told me anything about the location of the actor!

    For example: In "Ich habe die Zeitung in XX Schublade gelegt", a German sees the location of the actor ("ich"), whereas a Greek sees the location of the newspaper.

    Similarly, in "Ich schreibe etwas auf XX Papier", the case of "auf XX Papier" indicates in German the position of the actor in relation to the paper and not the location of "etwas".
    Thank you!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  10. archibaldworthington Senior Member

    American English
    Vielen Dank an alle.
  11. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Hi, in case "Ich schreibe etwas auf Papier" it is special.
    Papier is not defined in case, it can be dative and accussative if you do not consider the content.
    But because of missing article "Papier" is a mass noun.
    So the sentence changes and gives you the kind of material you are using as base information.


    Ich schreibe etwas auf Papier (und nicht auf Folie, for example.)

    Ich schreibe etwas auf das Papier. (Wohin? the paper is defined.)
    Ich lese etwas auf dem Papier. (wo?)
  12. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I beg to differ. The case can in principle still be determined even if the noun is treated as non-countable: Ich schreibe auf geschöpftem/geschöpftes Papier.

    This needs a special analysis. If you take the sentence at face value it means I am standing on a piece of paper and read something (e.g. a book). This is of course not how it is understood. It is understood as a short for Ich lese etwas, das auf dem Papier geschrieben steht.
  13. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Indeed it is possible to see the case if you add an adjecticve. But this extents the context and makes it clear.
    It is not really important because the meaning is the same. Only the point of view is different.
  14. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Well, it is important because you said the case was undefined. I cannot accept that statement. It adds a totally unnecessary convolution into the grammatical analysis. Case is defined and there is nothing special about your sentence. It just happens to be morphologically ambiguous.
  15. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Hi Bernd, I agree. I meant this but did not say it with this clearness. You cannot decide which case it is in this case. (Accussative or dative)
    I was not aware that there is a difference between something is not defined and not knowing the definition.
  16. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Ok, our differences are resolved then.:)
  17. Perseas Senior Member

    This is how I understood it after having read post #8.

    On the contrary, "Ich schreibe etwas auf dem Papier" would look strange enough, I guess.
  18. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You are right but this is a bit less absurd than Ich lese etwas auf dem Papier (if not interpreted as an ellipsis). There is a possible visualization that makes this dative possible: The heel of my hand rests auf dem Papier while I write auf das Papier with the fingers of that hand.
  19. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    Er schreibt seine Berichte auf offiziellem/schönem/handgeschöpftem Briefpapier.
    This is about the material used.
  20. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The visualization that makes this possible is the one (or something along these lines) I described in #18.
  21. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    As far as I see the cases depend extreml on context. Small changes of the text result in strong changes in the usage.

    I will give some examples, and what I think about usage.

    Ich lese etwas auf dem Papier. = Idiom, it means: "Ich lese etwas, das auf dem Papier steht." - for me it is ok.
    Ich lese etwas auf Papier. It does not sound good to me, I would not use it.
    Ich lese den Text auf Papier. This sounds good to me. (Here "etwas" is replaced by "den Text".

    Ich schreibe es auf Papier. (material)
    Ich schreibe den Text auf Papier. (material)
    Ich schreibe den Text auf das Papier. (specific material or a special leaf of paper.)
    Ich schreibe den Text auf dem Papier. (It can mean that I read the text and write it, or it can mean that I write the text onto another sheet of paper.)
    Er schreibt seinen Text auf schönem (usw.) Papier. (material)
    Er schreibt seinen Text auf das schöne Papier. (special beautiful paper or a special leaf of beautiful paper)
    Er schreibt seinen Text auf dem schönen Papier. (he writes it onto the beautiful letter).
    Er schreibt meinen Text auf dem schönen Papier. (He writes my text from the beautiful paper/onto the beautiful paper.)
    I think, all of these sentences may be used, some are not clear.

    In some cases only the context makes clear what exactly is meant.
  22. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The bottom line is that there are two possible visualizations of auf etwas schreiben that result is using either accusative or dative. In some sentences accusative is a tad more idiomatic and in some dative and in some sentences only accusative is possible. I think the most important categories are: If you want to describe the material you are writing on, dative is better (but not mandatory). If you are talking about a specific object that you want to read something (after you have finished writing it), then you have to use accusative (Ich schreibe dir meine Telefonnummer auf diesen Zettel).

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