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"When he has drunk beer, he does not drive the car."

Translation:Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht mit dem Auto.

January 4, 2018



Totally lost on word order.


and I didn't understand the detailed response below either, I would not be able to form this sentence this way at all..


If the structure is confusing to you, I will explain it here.

The first sentence here begins with the subordinating conjunction 'Wenn'. Subordinating conjunctions kick the verbs of such sentences to the end (in this instance it kicked 'hat'). Therefore, the subordinate clause starts at 'Wenn' and ends at 'hat'. Subordinate clauses are sentences that cannot stand alone ("when he has drunk beer" makes no sense, see?)

Next, in German the verb of the main sentence (fährt here) will always be in the second position. You should note that 'the second position' isn't the same as 'the second word'., so do not confuse the two. Infact the entire subordinate clause of "when he has drunk beer" occupies position one, meaning that fährt is indeed in position 2, although the 6th word in.


I don't understand your post in English.


Maybe a system where one takes an English sentence, and using English words places those English words in the order they would be in the equivalent German sentence. Perhaps it would help one to think in German


Why is "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er das Auto nicht" wrong?


Aztend, It's correct. If Duo says otherwise, report that your answer should be accepted.


Where can one read about the place of the negation in the sentence? It is always confusing me: sometimes you can only place it at the end, sometimes it's place can only be the second last, sometimes the third last... I mean, OMG!


Vielen Dank! Ich bin nicht verwirrt!


I got marked wrong for the same answer!


Duolingo accepts" Wenn er Bier getrunken hat , fährt er nicht das Auto"


How about "...fährt er kein Auto"? Duo didn't like it, but I'm not sure what's wrong with it.


Your solution says "drives he no car" instead of "drives he not the/that car". You propose he doesn't drive any car when he is drunk, rather than he doesn't drive the/that car when he's drunk.


Ah, thanks. I can see that now. May I offer a Lingot in gratitude?


Why does this sentence use the word "mit"? A car is what is driven, not driven with.


The mit emphasises the use of the means of transportation as means of transportation.

mit dem Auto fahren = use the car (by driving it)
mit dem Bus fahren = use the bus (as a passenger)


How do you differentiate between using the car as a driver and using the car as a passenger?


According to my research here:

  • etwas (Akk) fahren [to drive/ride/pedal/cart sth]: Ich fahre das Auto. - I drive the car.

  • mit etwas (Dat) [dem Bus/Zug/Auto etc.] fahren [to take sth (the bus/train/car/etc.)]: Ich fahre mit dem Auto - I take the car.

Some other ways to show the difference in the case of the Past Perfect (this is from other sources):

  • Ich bin im Auto gefahren = I travelled by car (but someone else was driving)
  • Ich habe das Auto gefahren = I drove the car
  • Neulich habe ich ein tolles Auto gefahren! (Hier gibt es ein Akkusativ-Objekt)
  • Er ist nach Dresden gefahren. (Hier ist die Ortsveränderung wichtig.)


Bumping this after 4 mo. Anyone have an answer to my previous question?


I'm also confused about word order. Duolingo has told me it should be "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht mit dem Auto."

I put "Wenn er hat Bier getrunken, er fährt nicht mit dem Auto." I thought verbs should always go "second" in the chunks of clauses, and that the past tense verb should go at the end. What has changed in this sentence?


„Wenn er hat Bier getrunken“ is the subordinate clause. Wenn pushes the conjugated verb to the end as in „Wenn er Bier getrunken hat“. What you have is incorrect.

Since the sentences start with the subordinate clause. You need to switch „er fährt“ to „fährt er“.

All of these are correct.

„Er fährt nicht den Wagen, wenn er Bier getrunken hat.“

„Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht den Wagen.“


No one says: "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er das Auto nicht."?

Sondern immer: "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht das Auto."?

I admit the latter sounds better to me now, but is the first version really wrong?


zekecoma, Could you or someone answer the question brasilianland and I have about where "nicht" can go?

Welche Sätze sind richtig?:

  1. Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht das Auto.

  2. Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht mit dem Auto.

  3. Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er das Auto nicht.

  4. Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er mit dem Auto nicht.


I think I have found an answer to the question. (This is the source - look at the section "Einen ganzen Satz / ein Verb verneinen".)

I will copy the explanation here with adaptations to our case (Ich kaufe --> Er fährt):

Wenn das konjugierte Hauptverb verneint wird, bedeutet das, dass der ganze Satz verneint wird.

Beispiele: „Er fährt das Auto nicht.“

Wortstellung: Wenn das konjugierte Hauptverb (das an 2. Stelle) verneint wird, steht „nicht“ am Ende des Satzes, weil das Verb auf P2 bleiben muss.

Vergleich: „Er fährt nicht das Auto.“

Bedeutung: Er fährt dieses Auto nicht, aber vielleicht ein anderes.


wenn er Bier getrunken hat , fahrt er das auto nicht is the position of nicht totally off?


Why not "wann"?


"Wann" is mostly used interrogatively. Wann kommst du morgen? Wann ist dieses Jahr Ostern? Seit wann wohnst du dort? Seit wann sind Delphine Fische? Seit wann bin ich dein Laufbursche? Bis wann kann ich noch anrufen? Von wann an ... ? Von wann bis wann gilt es? Bis wann ist das Essen fertig? Ich weiß nicht, wann... Du kannst kommen, wann du willst. Wann [auch] immer.


So in another sense, if you can substitute "if" for "when" in the English, you would say "wenn?" I.e., "If he has drunk beer, he does not drive the car" in this case. Or is this just coincidental?


Yes, wenn can mean when or if. Wann can only mean when.


I'm aware :) Since I put "wann" and it was marked incorrect, my question is if you mean to say "when" in English in a sense where you could substitute "if", then must you necessarily say "wenn" auf Deutsch? Is this an accurate test of when to use "wenn"? When, wann, wenn, ... win... :)


I always think of it like this" Wenn is whenever and wann is simply when, as in specifying a particular time. Seems to work for me at least.


Currently trying not to shed a tear after getting defeated by an absolutely demoralizing sentence structure.


In fact the sentence structure is completely regular. I.e. if you know the rules.
I think they have been given on this page in some comment already. But just to repeat: In affirmative main clauses the verb needs to be in second position. In subordinate sentences the verb comes last. The crucial clue here is, when the main clause follows the subordinate clause, you should note that the complete subordinate clause counts as first position of the main clause, that#s why the verb needs to follow immediately.


fehrerdef, I see you've been replying back to several of my posts so I just want to say thanks for having my back. I'm going to have to take a deeper dive into this topic because it's what's holding me back for sure.


Can someone please explain to me why, "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er mit dem Auto nicht," is incorrect? Why isn't nicht at the end?


I am certainly not a good German speaker, but to me Duo's answer means the man travels by vehicle, but not the car. Your sentence says he does not travel by vehicle and then adds with the car. It is confusing if fahren is translated only as to drive. I also would like this to be clarified.


"Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er mit dem Auto nicht." is not accepted. Why?


...faehrt er das Auto nicht? What is the Rule for the word order,if it is the word order that is off? iowegan says my answer is wrong, on the other hand Doktor John says it is OK?


? I don't see where iowegan offered an opinion. I recommend you read JrgenKnig1's reply to my comment above.


Is ...... Wenn hat er Bier getrunken, färht er nicht mit dem auto. .... also the same sentence?


" Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er kein Auto " .. from the context I see my answer as correct . " Auto fahren = to drive (a) car ..


That would mean he doesn't drive any car. The English uses the definite article ("the"), so you need the definite article in German too.


Laying aside the complex word arrangement, why is it "mit dem Auto"?


I thought "wann" was when and "wenn" was if? The English would work with either for the sentence.


"Wann" is only "when" as a question word ("When did X happen?" or "I know when X happened").

For the conjunction (as in "When X happens, Y happens"), you need "wenn." In this usage, "wenn" can mean either of "if" or "when," depending on context. So you need "wenn" here.


Is "Er fährt das Auto nicht, wenn er Bier getrunken hat" acceptable anyone? Having trouble realising why not.


There are two issues with your sentence:
1.) you turned it around. Instead of "When he ..., he ..." you wrote "He ..., when he ...". This does of course not change the meaning, but might be considered a different sentence. Don't know whether it is accepted here or not.
2.) You say "Er fährt das Auto" in German only if you mean "He drives that (specific) car". If you just want to say he uses a car for transportation you say either "Er fährt mit dem Auto" or "Er fährt Auto" (without an article).


Thankyou fehrerdef.


I think i’m close to reaching my limit in German, I’m struggling with quite a bit of it now and its no longer fun, the ‘rules’ are insanely restrictive and word order is just as bad. One day you’re elated as you think you’ve cracked it then next day...down to earth with a bang! Learning Spanish is a breeze compared to German.


Hey Kevin,

What exactly was your answer? Although it wasn't accepted it may still have been entirely possible. Best advice is to not give up; I've 'burned out many times before whilst learning German, and in the end always realise how simple it actually was!

If the structure is confusing to you, I will explain it here. As the subordination conjuction in this instance is the 'first sentence', rather than the 'second'... it actually acts as position 1 in the structure. So the subordination conjunction being in position 1, we then as usual place the verb in postion 2.

If your frustration comes from a mix up with 'das Auto' or 'mit dem Auto', or simply 'Auto'... don't worry so much. They're all coherent, however "Er fährt Auto" and "Er fährt mit dem Auto" are apparently better, as 'das' is somewhat more 'that' and specific here.


Because i did not know the first clause was the subordinate clause, i put ‘wenn er hat bier getrunken, fährt er nicht mit dem auto‘. Thanks for your help and encouragement.


The subordinate clause is always the one that is headed by a conjunction or a relative pronoun.


Thinking the same. At least Spanish is a lot more practical. Also learning French, the most beautiful language in the world


How can you tell which is the subordinate clause and which is the main clause?


A subordinate clause can't stand on its own. It just supplies more information about the main clause. "When he has drunk beer" only restricts the meaning of the main clause, "he does not drive the car" ans so is subordinate. I hope that helps.


To know which are the subordinate clause or clauses, you just have to identify the subordinating conjunctions at the beginning of each clause. (Well, right now I am not 100% sure if they are always at the beginning of the clauses, but if you can identify them in the clauses, that's it!)

The clause which doesn't have them is then the main clause.


The Answer in German given, "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht mit dem Auto." Does it literally mean in English, "After he has drunk Beer, he doesn't drive with the Car?" (fährt er nicht mit dem Auto) mit dem Auto (with the Car)
Should it be, "fährt er dem Auto nicht" (He does not drive the car) Your views please? :D


so close, i forgot the word oder


Hi all! Given fahren is a transitive verb, is mit really needed? I've tried to answer "Als er ein bier getrunken, fährt er das Auto nicht" and it was marked as wrong. Is it coherent ?


According to another comment on this page, a translation without "mit" is accepted. But you've got a couple of errors in your sentence.

  • "Als" is for past actions, but "When he has drunk beer" is more or less a present action, since it refers to a continuing tendency/habit that is still happening now and in the future. If you can substitute "when" with "whenever" ("whenever he has drunk beer"), you're going to use "wenn" rather than "als."
  • The English sentence has just "beer," so you should have just "Bier," not "ein Bier."
  • You're missing the conjugated verb in the first clause ("... Bier getrunken hat").
  • "Nicht" belongs before "das Auto." Afraid I don't have a good explanation for this one though.

Correct is "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht das Auto" (which another comment has said is accepted).


Thanks for the detailed answer! I stand corrected :)


What happened to verb at 2nd position??


This rule applies to main clauses that are statements. And indeed the verb is in second position in the main clause. You have to consider that the dependent clause talkes the 1st position within the main clause, so the verb needs to follow immediately.

And in th dependent clause the rule is different anyway. here the verb goes to the end of that clause.


Meaning the entire clause "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat" is considered the 1st position, and fährt is considered the 2nd position?


Danke schön


The word order is hard, but I'm interested in why Duo won't accept it without "mit"?

Shouldn't "Wenn er Bier getrunken hat, fährt er nicht dem Auto" be accepted?


If you don't want to use "mit", there are two other options:
1.) you can use the separable verb "Auto fahren / autofahren" (= "to move using a car / to go by car"). But in that case there would be no definite article: "..., fährt er nicht Auto".
2.) you can use "das Auto" as a direct object. But then you have to use accusative case, not dative as after "mit", and the word order would xchange, because the accusative object then is a definite one: "..., fährt er das Auto nicht". But that would rather be a translation of "he does not drive that (specific) car".


Without "mit," "Auto" is just the direct object of "fährt" and belongs in the accusative: "das Auto."


why not faehrt er mit dem auto nicht???


Because that's a wrong word order. The "nicht" must be in front of "mit dem Auto".


That seems to leave the possibility that he drives something else: fährt er nicht mit dem Auto, sondern... Totally confusing.


That seems to leave the possibility that he drives something else

Not necessarily. That the "nicht" ends up in front of "mit dem Auto" is purely coincidal. It is placed at its normal position, where it goes when negating the complete sentence, namely at the end of the so called "mid field".


How does the car translate into with the car?? Why not fahrt er das Auto nicht?


Can that "wenn" be translated as "if" instead of "when?" Is it not more correct?


"If" is also fine; I wouldn't say one translation or the other is "more correct," as both sound fine.


I thought Wann meant when, and Wenn ment if?


As a question word "when" is "wann".
But as a conjunction "wenn" can mean both "when" and "if".


I giving up German. The only way I'll ever learn it is to get a German dictionary, spend the next 20 years learning every word in it and remembering whether it's die, dem, der, das or diesem or dieser or whatever, depending on who's doing what to whom

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