German Attributive Clauses

Attributivsätze im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

German Attributive Clauses – Summary


Attributive clauses express attribute of a noun, so they are attached to it. Normally, they are introduced by a relative pronoun, that’s why so are also called “Relativsätze“, relative clauses. Here are some examples:

  • “Das ist der Hund, der mich gebissen hat.” (Which dog?)
  • “Kaufst du den Hund, der dir so gefällt?” (Which dog?)
  • “Hilf bitte der Frau, die Straße zu überqueren!” (Which woman?)
  • “Wir gedenken der Opfer, die gefallen sind.” (Which victim?)
German Attributive Clauses

Have you ever heard of German attributive clauses? Well, in case you didn’t, will try to clear this part of German grammar up for you. So, don’t worry if you have never heard of this type of German subordinate clause – Probably, you know relative clauses, which build an important part of this group within German subordinate clauses.

So, in the following, we will have a look at what German attributive clauses are. Additionally, we will try to describe in some detail the other types of subordinate clauses that form a part of this group.

What are German Attributive Clauses?

Was sind Attributivsätzeim Deutschen?

First of all, we will define what the group of German attributive clauses actually is. So, you will see that they are quite similar to attributive clauses in the English language. Nevertheless, there are huge, important difference you have to consider.

German attributive clauses are subordinate sentences which have the function of a a attribute, which means that they depend on a noun. 

Well, it’s quite important to know that this group of subordinate clauses consists of three types of clauses: Relative clauses, conjunctional clauses and a rather special type called “Verbzweit-Attributsätze”. In the following, we will have a closer look at each one of them.

1. Relative Clauses

So, German relative clauses allow us to provide additional information about a noun without starting a new sentence. We can also use them to combine two main clauses. Relative clauses are always introduced by pronouns, usually, “der, die, das” for people and things and not “wer/wen (who/whom)” as in English relative clauses. In German grammar, relative clauses are always set off by commas. So, here are some examples that illustrate this description.

  • “Philip hat einen Hund, was mir sehr gefällt.” – Philip has a dog, which I like very much.
  • “Philip wartet dort, wo der Bus steht.” – Philip waits there, where the bus is.
  • “Peter weiß nicht, wofür er hier ist.” – Peter doesn’t know for what he is here.
  • “Ich weiß nicht, worüber der Film handelt.” – I don’t know what this movie is about.

2. Conjunctional Clauses

As a second type of German attributive clause, we will describe German conjunctional clauses. So, A conjunctional clause is a dependent sentence that is always initiated by a conjunction. After that the subject and object of the sentence follow. Of course, in German, the conjugated form of the verb here always stands at the very end of the sentence. Simply keep in mind the following formula:

Conjunction + Subject + Object + conjugated Verb

So, in the following I’d like to illustrate the correct use and construction of German conjunctional clauses by some examples phrases.

  • Sobald ich genaueres weiß, sage ich dir bescheid.” – As soon as I know more, I will let you know.
  • “Philip isst gerne bolivianisch, wohingegen Julian lieber italienisch isst. – Philip likes to eat Bolivian food, whereas Julian prefers Italian food.
  • Obwohl er viel gelernt hat, hat der die Prüfung nicht bestanden.” – Despite having learned a lot, he didn’t pass the exam.

3. “Verbzweit-Attributsätze”

So, this rather rare type of German attributive clause is characterized by the position of the verb in the subordinate. Well, as it’s names says, the verb is in the second position. Furthermore, it’s second name “uneingeleitete Nebensätze” (not introduced subordinate clauses) indicates, that no introducing conjunction is used. Well, here is an example:

  • “Die Behauptung, alle Attributsätze hätten Verb-Endstellung, ist nicht richtig.”



Finally, we have reached the last part of this article where you can prove the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and… auf Wiedersehen!

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