1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "If he does not come, we do n…

"If he does not come, we do not go."

Translation:Wenn er nicht kommt, gehen wir nicht.

March 21, 2013

103 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jgesner

Why does "nicht" need to be in front of "kommt" in this sentence? I posted "Wenn er kommt nicht, gehen wir nicht", and it counted it wrong. I'm having issues understand placement of "nicht" at times.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marioescobarh

"Wenn' belongs to the 'nebensatz' group, which means that it turns the sentence into a subordinated clause and the verb goes to the end of the sentence


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tknkldfklty

In other comments I've read that the verb always goes last, but also that "nicht" always goes last when negating a verb. How do we know which takes precedence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve32837

Whatever makes the least sense. It would make more sense for nicht to always be last, so that means it's not.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hedup

And what happens when I get used to this order and it starts to make sense not to always put "nicht" at the end? Does your rule still apply?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EmreEEN1

I totally agree


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RithvikYag

I think that the conjugation always takes precedence (I think I'm also learning)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/truptiM

Then why it is not at the end ...gehen should be at the end right ??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rogcha22

The way I understand it is this:

In your subordinating clause "Wenn er nicht kommt" the verb IS at the end.

That clause takes Position 1 of the sentence, and since the verb of the main clause MUST be in Position 2, "gehen" comes immediately after the subordinated clause.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PopSixSquish

But that doesn't explain about 'nicht.' I still don't understand why 'nicht' isn't at the end if it's negating thw whole clause.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

it's just the way it works. if it negates a word, it goes before, but when it negates the whole clause/sentence, it's put at the end (but before infinitives in compound verbs)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daleraka

You are so beautiful, get a like from me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StellaAndr22

ah that's why! right i forgot that! when suboording conjuctions--> then verb in the end!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Biomax

what I have understood (but I am not native so I might be wrong) is that in secondary clauses the conjugated verb is always placed in final position. "wenn er nicht kommt" is a seconday clause so "kommt" must be placed in final position and that means "nicht" has to be placed before "kommt".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/myra

In short, it's complicated. You can search "nicht placement" or "negation" in the German discussions for helpful advice like this: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/45040


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ermia93

Dou , help us PLZ !


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Trotsky17

Because I think that the verb needs to be sent back since the word "Wenn" is put in. So it would be "Wenn er nicht kommt".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RodX87

man, i'm getting my ass kicked so hard in this lesson ¬¬"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grace320677

I am currently feeling your pain. I am on day two trying to complete this section - the longest time I've spent on a lesson. Have a lingot on me!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnmarkMe2

Up to this point it was a breeze, but this is a firehose to the face.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

Have you read the grammar notes? It’s a lot of help. https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Conjunctions/tips-and-notes

Also, if you search Forums for German, and search “subordinate clauses” or “subordinate conjunctions”, there is quite a lot of material discussed on that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MihirRao3

Why is the second part of the sentence "gehen wir nicht"? I put in " wir gehen nicht" because the "nicht" always seems to come after the conjugated verb (except in subordinate clauses)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Reformergirl

The wenn clause is treated as the first "word", so the verb must be next after the comma. The verb maintains second place with few exceptions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoeRex1418

Okay, I think I may have figured out a way to make the sentence structuring clearer. Someone tell me if I'm wrong though - Treat the WHOLE sub clause as ONE item.

The rules for verb placement is that 1) the verb is going to always be the SECOND part of a sentence or 2) for a subordinate clause, the verb comes last. With that, I'm going to kind of apply PEMDAS (order of operations) here but for grammar. Considering "If he does not come, we do not go" - Identify the subordinate clause and treat it as ONE item. "(If he does not come), we do not go." Now only do the what's in the parentheses first. It's a subordinate clause, so the verb will come LAST here: "Wenn er nicht kommt". The entirety of the sub clause could be considered the 'first item' of the entire statement. The verb from the main clause will be the 'second item' of the whole sentence: "(Wenn er nicht kommt), gehen wir nicht."

If I'm wrong, someone let me know. But this has been working for me ever since I figured it out. Edit: Assuming it is a valid method to remember the rules, now you just have to be able to IDENTIFY these clauses.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

This is fully correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoeRex1418

Thanks for confirming. In hindsight, other comments that have explained the rules make more sense now. I think the realization of treating the sub clauses as their own monsters was what helped. Took me a while to really put the pieces together.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/csabakollar

cry in Hungarian :(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Liffrezen

God this is so right thank you for your rule!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erik567074

I thought "wenn" meant when. So it means "if" as well?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SelinLippl

its been 5 months but anyway :) as i know that "wann" is when, "wenn" is "if ".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgzF71

I thought the same. But then I saw that duolingo also translates "wenn" as "when". ... ¿


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maverick12345678

It's when in the sense of if. You can use it in sentences like "I will go when he comes" but you cannot use it in sentences like "When are you coming?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kris519760

Wann you use for 1 time occurrence, wenn is for multiple


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/phea

Can we not use "fahren" as well even though there's no direct mention of driving or flying?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CaseyBahr

Just read in another thread with a similar construction a comment (way after all the complicated explanations about subordinate/main clauses) and the specific rule here is if it starts with Wenn, then the verb comes last in that part and the clause following must begin with a verb (thus pushing nicht to the end).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eva469592

Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ffarges19

Why Wenn, and not Ob ?

Could someone explain me why "Ob Er nicht kommt, gehen wir nicht" is not correct ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

"ob" is only used as "whether"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dave_Ryan

I tried "falls kommt er nicht, wir gehen nicht" on the basis that 'falls' means 'if' and 'in case' which seemed to fit the sentence. Could someone explain why it was rejected


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/em-cas

How come the first half of the sentence is not "wenn kommt er nicht"? Doesn't the verb always come in the second position in primary clauses?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/23wangey

This is because "wenn" is a subordinating conjunction. So, as with all other subordinating conjunctions, the clause is then a subordinating clause, and the verb must be placed at the end. I'm sorry if this is wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KB122333

But the verb isn't last in this sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

But it is the last element in the clause; that's because of the subordinating conjunction. The next clause is an independent clause, and it is not affected by Wenn....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pdunwin

Could someone explain the word order in both parts of this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

I'll do my best. The first clause is a subordinate (dependent) clause, beginning with Wenn. Therefore, the main verb moves to the end of the clause. Wenn er nicht kommt....

The second clause is an independent clause. However, the verb remains as the first element in the clause because it needs to remain in Position 2 of the whole sentence. That's why it is "..., gehen wir nicht."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve32837

I don't think I'm on enough drugs to understand the sentence order here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Julie260479

I'm with you.. Every sentence seems to have a different rule. It's doing my head in


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

No, they don't, really-- but this may be the first time you have encountered subordinate clauses. Remember to read the grammar explanations at the beginning of each lesson (click the light bulb, not the key).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

agreed, at least when it comes to subordinating clauses and all that stuff, it's easy to learn. for the most part, there's really only 2 options:

1) subordinating clause 1st, coordinating 2nd (like in this german sentence); then the 2 verbs meet together in the middle on both sides of the comma;

2) vica versa. here, the basic rules are still the same. we just don't have a situation like in (1) where an entire clause is regarded as the 1st position in a sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KB122333

Why is "wir nicht gehen" wrong? I thought that the verb always comes last in subordinating conjugations. Why does it go before nicht AND wir? Help please.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hmutiso

"wenn" is a "subordinating conjunction". Remember that a clause containing a "subordinating conjunction" is called a "subordinate clause" (or "dependent clause"). A sentence that has a subordinate clause also has a "main clause" (or "independent clause"). For example, the sentence:

"Wenn er nicht kommt, gehen wir nicht."

has the subordinate/dependent clause: "Wenn er nicht kommt",

and the main/independent clause "gehen wir nicht".

Makes sense so far?

Note also that when a sentence begins with a subordinate clause, then the subsequent main clause must start with the conjugated verb. In our sentence above, the main clause begins right after the comma, so the conjugated verb must appear right after the comma.

The conjugated verb of our main clause is "gehen", and so the main clause should be "gehen wir nicht" and not "wir gehen nicht".

So our full sentence is: "Wenn er nicht kommt, gehen wir nicht".

For more reading, see: https://ielanguages.com/german-subordinating-conjunctions.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

And this does not break the V2-rule (verb always in second position in an affirmative main clause), because the complete subordinate clause counts as the first position of the main clause.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jon881278

So when the verb is moved to the end of the first phrase "Wenn er nicht kommt" does the second verb ALWAYS follow the comma? "Gehen wir nicht" Or is that only for certain conjunctions? Or is gehen placed there because its considered in the second position (Which it doesnt seem like it is.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

Yes, that is exactly right-- it IS in the second position. The first position is occupied by the entire subordinate clause.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/barbs422494

at reformergirl... THANK YOU!!!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SamDewar

I thought "gehen wir nicht" meant "are we not going?" Could someone explain why this is wrong please


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CapnDoug

You have twisted it into a question, but it is a statement "We are not going."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WilliamCla813729

why can "ob" not be used in place of "wenn" in this sentance?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

"ob" can only be used as "whether", which is sometimes represented by the word "if" in English. but this is not that case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AmitVaid3

A simple thumb rule I discovered by practice... When at the start of a sentence there is a conjunction, the verbs are placed together at the middle of the sentence... Does this apply at all times i need to discover yet


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bill763190

Got my nichts wrong ,again. If he doesnt comr we will never get it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MondayFriday

Germany sure does have some wacky sentence structure. Very confusing, but interesting nonetheless


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

i'd say the sentence in this lesson though is of very basic structure and easy to get used to. try reading german newspapers, then you'll agree with me haha, that's a whole other beast


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NickolasBr783567

I am having an extreme amount of difficulty with word order in this lesson. I understand how the nebensatz works... but it seems a lot more complicated than just 'put the verb at the end of the sentence.' If anyone could help me understand why THIS sentence has the order it has it would be a great help. But beyond that it does seem that there is more than just moving the verb to the end, for example in the sentence "Es ist wichtig, dass du jeden Tag Deutsch lernst." If I were to do it in an English order it would read like, "It is important, that you every day German learn." So clearly there's a lot more moving than just the verb and my English brain is melting down at this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

The rule for subordinate sentences is indeed to move the verb to the end.
But maybe you have not noticed that the subordinate clause is the first part of the sentence here: "if he does not come". That becomes "Wenn er nicht kommt" with the verb in the final position.

But there are rules for the position of the verb for the main clause as well. In affirmative sentences the verb must always be in the second position (position does not refer to counting words, but complete syntactical elements). In this case, the complete subordinate clause counts as position one of the main clause, so the verb in the main clause has to follow immediately.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TalonPlays

Let me get this straight - this sentence is made up of the following: [Wenn er nicht kommt], [gehen] [wir] [nicht]

In the first position, which doubles as a suboordinate clause, Wenn's suboordinate-ness pushes the verb to the end of the clause, forcing nicht in front of it where it would otherwise be at the end of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

Exactly. Gut gemacht!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinpastie

'Ob' can also be used here, ja?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sea-mist

I wrote "kommt nicht er, gehen wir nicht" and it did not accept this as it said I missed the word er.. but its there in what I posted. Is this also an acceptable answer? Do we need that "Wenn" in it if put like I did?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/23wangey

No, I'm fairly sure that you need the word "wenn" here because without "wenn" (if, when), the meaning of the sentence is changed. Also, without "wenn", the verb "kommt" would need to come second after the subject "er"; the verb placement for the second clause would also need to change. Correct me if I'm wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ginger_aleeeee

Why can't the second clause be "wir gehen nicht"? Does the verb have to come first because of "Wenn" in the first clause?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mi83ch

The verb stands behind after a comma???


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kelikaku

"Wenn er kommt nicht, wir gehen nicht" was not accepted.
"Wenn er kommt nicht, gehen wir nicht" was not accepted.
"Wenn er nicht kommt wir gehen nicht" was not accepted.

בס״ד


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

yes, your verb placement in both is incorrect. i believe the comments here cover this already. the 2nd variant would be correct if you drove kommt to the end of the subordinate clause


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KEWLDIEGO

ob er kommt nicht wir gehen nicht is this right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KEWLDIEGO

its seems that germans speak just like yoda


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

No. They speak like Germans.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

no, yoda is german


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SmGx11

what a terrible lesson this was, no explanations whatsoever, repetitive yet no consistancy


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

There ARE explanations at the beginning of every lesson. Click the light bulb button.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/goosneves

Why is German so extremely difficult!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

All languages are difficult to the learner.... and English is among the most difficult of all, btw.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChrisGuy145

whoever invented the sentence structure for German just wanted people to suffer


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

Nobody "invented" that. It just developped over time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7nsnBlBd

I wish that there was an option to report English that just sounds weird. I'd say, "If he isn't coming, then we aren't going" or "If he isn't coming, then we aren't going to go either". This sentence sounds like it was made by someone who is learning English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter20394

Please explain why 'gehen' goes at the beginning rather than at the end. Isn't it a subordinating conjunction? Is 'Wenn' a coordinating, subordinating, or correlative conjunction? Do you have a good explanation of the difference? Does the rule about the verb at the end apply to 'kommt' or to 'gehen'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

The rule for subordinate clauses is, that the verb goes to the end. That's the case here with "kommt", in the subordinate clause headed by "wenn".
But the second part of the sentence is the main clause. The rule here is that the verb comes second. And since the complete subordinate clause has already taken the first position of the main clause, the verb needs to follow immediately to be in 2nd position. That's what heppens to "gehen".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aadhithya_sh

As I learnt languages(English and my mother tongue) by reading and watching rather than through grammar workbooks, I find German hard to learn. Especially since I don't know what the grammatical terms used in discussions here stand for :(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

Looking them up is a good idea...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

yea man, that's like saying "oh, i don't know the alphabet of this language, so i can't learn the language". things have names, those names are called terms. no way out of learning them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bill763190

Put the verb where you think it would not go.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

No, there are clear rules for that. They are, however, different than in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_calabash

This lesson is whack.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maz1269

this sentence is just about the simplest example possible. only simpler would be the same but without negation: "wenn er kommt, gehen wir"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Odinkin

This is stupid. The word order is jumbled for no good reason.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

It's not "jumbled", but it is the correct German word order. And the reason to show it here is to teach you proper German.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

No, it’s not jumbled. Every word is in the correct place, in both sentences. “If he doesn’t come, we don’t go”/ Wenn er nicht kommt, gehen wir nicht.

If you take the time to read the explanations in this comment section, several moderators have explained everything about it, more than once.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Odinkin

Don't pretend it isn't jumbled. Even this sentence you gave doesn't follow its own rules and uses two different orders.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 209

Sure it does. It does because it follows the rules. There are different rules for main clauses and subordinate clauses.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2GreyCats

Laughing myself silly.

1) That’s exactly the sentence from the exercise.

2) I’m not a native speaker, but I’ve been using German since 1980. Fehrerdef and mizinamo ARE native speakers. And somehow you understand how their language works better than they do? Lächerlich!

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.