Unit 13: Extended Adjective Constructions

3. Translating Extended Adjective Constructions

No matter what kind of extended adjective construction you come across, always remember that none of the words appearing before the noun are the main verb of the sentence and that they all belong together. The sanctity of the noun phrase, as you learned in earlier units, must still be honored, regardless of how long it may be.

The following examples explain methods to translate some of the example sentences from the preceding section.

Example: Diese Flüssigkeit ist kein in Wasser löslicher Stoff.

As soon as you see an introductory article or adjective followed by a prepositional phrase (such as kein in Wasser . . .), then find the word that follows the prepositional phrase (löslicher). The prepositional phrase is acting as a modifier of that subsequent word, so mark off the prepositional phrase and that modified word (a participial adjective or regular adjective) from the rest of the construction (kein + Stoff) and first translate what remains: “This fluid is not a substance.” Then come back to the phrase you marked off (as described in Section 1 of this unit): “soluble”+ “in water,” knowing that it is a modifier of “substance.”

Example: In Rußland gefundene Kunstwerke sollen zurückgegeben werden.

If there is no article or adjective (such as In Rußland . . .), then separate the prepositional phrase (In Rußland) and its following adjective (gefundene) and translate the remaining word(s) (Kunstwerke) before translating the prepositional phrase and adjective: “works of art” + “found” + “in Russia”

Example: Die die Literatur liebenden Studenten studieren oft Anglistik.

When two articles appear together (Die die), you are dealing with either an extended adjective construction or a relative-pronoun clause. If it’s the former, then recognize the first one as the beginning of the entire enclosing noun phrase. That tells you that everything in between is just modifiers of the main noun: the second (die) and the noun that follows it (Literatur) plus the word after the noun (liebenden). Then follow the same procedure as above: “the” + “students” + (who are) “loving” + “the literature”

Example: In für Strahlen undurchlässigen Stoffen wurde kein solches Molekül gefunden.

If you come across two prepositions together (In für), then separate off the internal prepositional phrase (für Strahlen), as well as any remaining words (undurchlässigen). Then follow the same procedure as above: “in” + “substances” + “impermeable” + “for rays”

You can practice your analysis of some of this unit’s examples by playing the Unit 13 Syntax Untangler activity. (Link opens in a new window.)


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A Foundation Course in Reading German by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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