Forum Rocket German German Grammar 19.4 Das Thema der Ausstellung waren die Höhlenmenschen. Why is waren plural?

19.4 Das Thema der Ausstellung waren die Höhlenmenschen. Why is waren plural?

sfpugh

These two sentences appear in the Extra Vocab section of 19.4
Die Ausstellung war über die Höhlenmenschen.
The exhibition was about cavemen.
Das Thema der Ausstellung waren die Höhlenmenschen.
The theme of the exhibition was cavemen.

Why is waren plural in the second sentence?  The subject is singular in both cases.  

Does it relate to die Höhlenmenschen?  in the first sentence it is war über die Höhlenmenschen and in the second it is 
waren die Höhlenmenschen.  So in the first case the verb must agree with Die Ausstellung  and in the second it must agree with die Höhlenmenschen?

Leah-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hi sfpugh, 

The subject in the sentence  "Das Thema der Ausstellung waren die Höhlenmenschen."  is actually "die Höhlenmensschen", not "das Thema". The sentence structure here has just changed around. You could also say:

Die Höhlenmenschen waren das Thema der Ausstellung.

It is the same sentence, the sentence units are just ordered in a different way.
Therefore, "waren" is plural because it refers back to "die Höhlenmenschen". 

I hope that makes it clearer to you. 

Liebe Grüße, 
Leah von Rocket German

sfpugh

Thank you
Yes, that makes sense. It is confusing for English speakers because we are so attached to the idea that the noun/pronoun on the left of "to be" is the subject so the verb always agrees with the noun/pronoun on the left if there mismatch in number. (at least I can't think of an example where it doesn't.)

The two sentences I mentioned appeared next to each other which makes it look as though it was intended to teach the difference. This is an example where a short explanation in the lesson would have helped.

Leah-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hi sfpugh, 

Thanks for pointing that out. 
I will forward your feedback to our Course Development team. 

Liebe Grüße, 
Leah von Rocket German

Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here .
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket German trial here .