xochipilli (a_xolotl) wrote in linguaphiles,

German grammar help: relative pronouns, sentence case, adjective endings

Ok, so I'm in need of some German help, and my professor is a crotchety old Wichtigtuer who absolutely refuses to provide it. Can anyone suggest some helpful websites explaining German grammar, specifically those which have sections that explain relative pronouns/Relativpronomen, and German sentence cases (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive), and possibly adjective endings? I'm confused about how to pick the right relative pronoun to stick into a sentence, particularly because I don't have an amazing grasp on how to tell which case a sentence is.

For example, how does one tell which relative pronoun to use in this sentence:
"Er gab drei Schüsse in die Torte, ______ da so schön auf dem Gartentisch stand."
"He gave three shots into the cake, which stood there so pretty on the table."

Here is what I can tell the process is from my understanding:

1. Pull up The Chart of relative pronouns:

2. Look at the sentence and find the antecedent (object/word before comma). Determine the gender, and if it's singular or plural, and find your column on The Chart accordingly.

3. In the column, you pick which case the relative pronoun serves as in the relative clause (more or less, what's after the comma).
Nominative-the subject of the sentence: "does the action"
Accusative-the direct object: "receives the action"
Dative-the indirect object: "the thing affected by what subject does to direct object"
Genitive-prepositions and possession: if there are words like mit, von, des in the relative clause.

So, in this case, "die Torte" is feminine and singular. I go to the chart, and try to figure out the case. In the relative clause, the cake (subject) is standing (verb) on the table (indirect object). So, "die Torte" is the subject in the relative clause, making it nominative. Thus, the relative pronoun is "die", right? If not, or if I'm doing some step wrong or making it more/less complicated than it should be, please explain! Any hints to make it simpler?

He keeps badly half-explaining this, and introducing a bunch of what seem to be exceptions at the same time, which, when one is already confused, doesn't help. Annoying. Also, maybe it's just me, but this really doesn't feel like the most flowing way to choose a teensy little pronoun; particularly when it is before the rest of the sentence that determines it's form. Does it just start to come naturally with practice to the point one doesn't have to picture that damn chart and stop and think about what kind of relative clause is following?

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