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Literature/ Grammar

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!

May 10, 2018



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..


Sorry about calling it 'haphazardly thrown together' I was just frustrated :-) This helps me so much and makes it a lot clearer. I'll definitely need more practice, but the concept is starting to click. Danke!


You are welcome ;-)

And I completely understand you.. These word orders can really drive one crazy.. However, imagine how many possibilities we have to write essays in different word orders. And teachers always ask our students to use varying word orders.. ;-))


It must also be amazing if you want to write poetry: so much easier to fit the metric, to get your rhyme… It adds a lot of subtlety too: the difference the place you put an adverb can do, I love it!


Could you be a bit more specific? I'd like to help. There definitely are many rules and it is not "haphazardly thrown together". ;) Study more, then everything will start to make sense. But it'll take it's time.


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.

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