Ich glaube, dass du recht hast.

English Translation

I think that you’re right.

Is ‘recht’ an adverb in this sentence?

It’s funny, wiktionary lists “recht” both as adjective and as adverb, but “recht haben” is neither of those and has its own page instead, where it’s described as an alternative spelling of “Recht haben”, which is listed as one verb.

So it originates from the noun “Recht”, but the lower case variant “recht haben” is also a valid spelling.

I think people use lower case “recht” because it doesn’t have the same feeling as “Recht haben”, similar to english where “to be right” is not the same as “to have the right”. I.e. lower case “recht” has a different meaning from upper case “Recht”.

It’s also interesting that “recht haben” is listed under “Related terms” of the Adverb section, not the Adjective section.

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Thanks. I’ve have guessed they formed a verb as a combination!

I must admit that ‘Recht haben’ would feel more logical to me personally.

It’s a bit old fashioned, but "You have the right of it’ would be a correct way of conceding a point in English.

But it’s a different sense of ‘have the right’ than “You have the right to roam on public land” - which may be why it’s fallen out of regular use.

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I’ve have guessed they formed a verb as a combination!

And thus it falls into that funny category of “noun+verb”-verbs, such as “radfahren / Rad fahren”, that are kind of hybrids between a single unit and a combination of two words.
But this also enables derived vocabulary like “rechthaberisch” and “Rechthaberei”.

The english “right” has this funny multiplicity of meanings which other languages share, too. I’m giving german and finnish here as examples:

  • direction (“right and left”); german: rechts; finnish: oikea
  • correct (“he is the right one”, “the right choice”); german: richtig; finnish: oikea
  • “to be right”; german: Recht haben; finnish: olla oikeassa
  • entitlement, law support (“to have the right”); german “das Recht haben”; finnish: (minulla on) oikeus

It’s interesting that you say “you have the right” used to mean “you are right”, because I have never heard of that usage.
But I think english also has “to be in the right” with the “to be right” meaning, for which the finnish “olla oikeassa” is a literal translation with the same meaning, but where the german “im Recht sein” differs, because that means “would win in court”. Or should I say “should win in court”, because the saying goes: Recht haben und Recht bekommen sind zwei Paar Schuhe.

Not ‘You have the right’, ‘You have the right of it’ ie. you are right about the thing being discussed.

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No, “recht” is neither an adjective nor an adverb. It’s apparently part of a verb (“recht haben”) consisting of two separate words.


Similar to “to get up” – “aufstehen”:

  • “I get up at 8 o’clock.”
  • “Ich stehe um 8 Uhr auf.”

In this example, “auf” is not an adverb or adjective but a part of the verb “aufstehen” (which under some circumstances gets split into its “two parts”).

Similarly, “recht” is part of the verb (“recht haben”) that translates to “to be correct”. Curiously, the English language cannot express “to be right” with only a verb as the German language can, but only with the combination of a verb (“to be”) and an adjective (“correct”).

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Thanks. I’d got used to separable prefixes with prepositions, hadn’t realised other kinds of words could be involved as well.

To console you, I—a German native speaker—was quite surprised and confused by this one, too. Especially considering the government had been changing the spelling a couple of times since 1996, going from “recht” to “Recht” and then back to “recht”.

To me too, it would have been only logical if the spelling were “Recht haben” (noun “Recht” and verb “haben”), as in “to have the right of it” like you said. I was quite astounded myself when I learned earlier today that this isn’t the case. If the German language is sometimes unintuitive to its own native speakers, it tells you quite something about the German language :slight_smile:

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That’s reassuring.
In the unlikely event I ever need to use the phrase in real life, I shall use ‘Recht haben’ (as it makes more sense to me) and know that it’s at least partially correct

I have to say that I really appreciate the benefit of having someone who is fluent in both languages - you’re much appreciated :slight_smile:

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