I've been trying to learn German for a while now and I've got several text books and grammar books that I used before duolingo, but I'm still lost on sentence structure. I watch DFE on youtube but i still can't get the concept. It looks like everything is just haphazardly thrown together with no rules. If anyone has any tips or tricks, I'd love to know!
What you call "haphazardly thrown together" is our incredible way of changing the word order. But actually there are some rules to follow. ;-))
Every full sentence should consist a subject and a predicate. The subject is the person or thing who/which does something. The predicate is the verb which can be separated or even consist of several parts.
The other "Satzglieder" (that is what they are called in German) can be there but need not in every sentence. They give additional information.
"(Sue) (hat) (ihrer Mutter) (am Nachmittag) (ein wunderschönes Bild) (mit ihren neuen Stiften) (im Kinderzimmer) (gemalt).
Each "Satzglied" can change its place, but, (and there is always a but ;-)), the conjugated verb (in this case: "hat") remains always on second place and usually the subject will come after it.
Am Nachmittag - hat - Sue- im Kinderzimmer - ihrer Mutter - mit ihren neuen Stiften - ein wunderschönes Bild - gemalt.
Ein wunderschönes Bild - hat - Sue - mit ihren neuen Stiften - ihrer Mutter - am Nachmittag - im Kinderzimmer - gemalt.
The word order is depending on emphasis or the use of main- and subclauses..., and can change then again..
Thanks for your reply. I guess the more I think about this, the more I am wrongly comparing it to English and how the structure almost never changes. What I was meaning to ask is: based on the situation, how can phrase what I want to say and make it understandable. For example one of the duolingo sentences states "Du hast mich unabhängig beraten" where the pronouns come first, and in other sentences it would go last. I guess I'm just a little shaky on the context and how it would need to be worded.