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Can anyone help me understand how to form a sentence in German? Placement of verbs confuse me

Im kinda slow so can someone break it down for me crayola style?

February 5, 2018



Simple affirmative sentence: the conjugated verb should always be in second place. So, either subject, verb, complement, or complement, verb, subject.

If you use a non conjugated verb (infinitive, or the past participe in tenses that use it), it goes right to the end of the sentence. I want to sing: Ich will singen. ("ich will", conjugated form of "wollen", "want", "singen", infinitive form of "singen", "sing").
I have sung: Ich habe gesungen (help verb "haben"/"have" is conjugated, "gesungen" is not). I have sung a song, Ich habe ein Lied gesungen (you add an complement, and the past participe still goes to the end).
Ich werde singen: I will sing; Ich werde ein Lied singen, I will sing a song (the future tense, just like English, is formed with a help verb, "will"/"werden", which is conjugated, and the infinitive of the actual verb, "sing"/"singen" which goes at the end).
Conditional goes just like future ("would"/"würd*" — ending dependant of the person).

Question: very similar to English, not to say identical. Simply put the (conjugated) verb in the first place, then the subject, then everything like in affirmative sentences.
Just note that in present tense, there is no "do" support: "Do you sing?", "Singst du?"; "Do you sing a song?", "Singst du ein Lied?"

Subordinate clause: the non conjugated verb or part of verb stay at the end, but the conjugated verb always take the last place.
"You hear, that I sing a song", "Du hörst, dass ich ein Lied singe."

There's a prefered order for complements too, just as gatiquo said. It has something to do not only with their meaning, but also their cases (dative or accusative), and whether they are in complete or pronoun form (pronouns first, complete after). But that's already quite a bit for once.

Don't hesitate to ask if you want more :)


Danke! this helps a lot


Gern geschehen, Jerry. It gets natural after a while :)


Nice explanation! But maybe I can clarify the part about the subordinate clause a bit more.

If I take a sentence like "I'm tired because I had to work all day long", it would be "Ich bin müde, weil ich den ganzen Tag lang arbeiten musste." This has to be understood like the entire predicate group (finite verb plus participles and infinite verbs, arbeiten müssen, or arbeiten musste here) goes to the end, and within this group, the finite verb takes the last position (musste). It works the same way if I rephrase it a bit: Ich bin müde, weil ich den ganzen Tag lang gearbeitet habe. (gearbeitet: participle, habe: finite verb).


I have a rule, it’s called the Yoda rule.... it’s somewhat loose but it helps a lot

When you want to say something , think a little about how Yoda might say this.

Instead of “ you will not look as good when you reach 900 “

Yoda says “ When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not.” -Return of the Jedi

This is closer to German form

Hope it helps


I think this doesn't really help.... Let's compare this to a German sentence:

  • When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. This would literally translate to:
  • Wenn 900 Jahre alt Du erreichst, aussehen so gut Du wirst nicht. Terrible. But now correct German:
  • Wenn Du 900 Jahre erreichst (/900 Jahre alt bist), wirst Du nicht so gut aussehen. Or also correct:
  • Du wirst nicht so gut aussehen, wenn Du 900 Jahre erreichst (/alt bist). To construct a real "Denglisch" phrase:
  • You will not so good look, when you 900 years reach ;-). Or: ..., when you 900 years old are.

So, it's difficult to infer a good rule from these examples or "yodaisms", it's merely a fun fact....


for simple sentences: subject verb adverbs object, and adverbs are usually in the order Time Manner Place.


What do you want me to write down?

[deactivated user]

    All you have to remember is these three letters: VSP. (verb second place). Its really that simple! :)

    [deactivated user]

      imagine 3 columns that you write your sentences into. in the first column you should put you sentence opener, in the second column should be your verb and then in the last column should be the rest of your sentance.

      [deactivated user]

        hope this helps. :)


        could you give an example please? danke :)

        [deactivated user]

          Ich spiele fussball the ich is the opener-first column the spiele is the verb-second column the fussball is the rest of the sentence-third column


          That makes sense. Thanks a lot


          I was wondering the same thing, bert.

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