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German Sentence Structure

As I’m going through the German tree, I just see sentences that would translate anywhere near word by word English sentences. I understand that languages are different, but I just see multiple words for one English preposition, extra words where we wouldn’t use them in English, and it seems like the words are just thrown wherever.

May 19, 2018



It sure may seem random at first, but with time and practice, you simply develop an instinct (just as I had to do with English). The number one rule is: in an affirmative clause, the conjugated verb is always in second position (not necessary second word: second unit). The non conjugated verb (infinitive, past participle, or separable particule, very much comparable to phrasal verbs in English) goes right to the end of the clause.
In subordinate clauses, you do the same for non conjugated verbs, but you must save the very last spot for the conjugated one.

For the rest, just take your time and trust Duo. We all get there one day :)


Can you give an example of a subordinate clause?


Subordinate clauses often start with a conjunction like: weil, während and so on.

Er macht schnell seine Hausaufgaben, weil er noch ins Training möchte.

In the main clause (the first part) the conjugated verb (macht) is in the second position. In the subclause the conjugated verb (möchte) comes last.

But there are conjunctions which connect two sentences in a main clause and main clause manner:

Er macht seine Hausaufgaben, aber er schreibt sehr unordentlich.

In both parts of the sentence the conjugates verb is in the second position. (macht and schreibt)


Birgit is perfectly right. You have also relative subordinates, which act the same.

Das Bett, wo ich schläft, ist gemütlich: the bed where I sleep is confortable.

Die Mahlzeit, die ich gegessen habe, war lecker: the meal (that) I ate, was delicious.

Der Rock, den ich trage, ist lang: the skirt (that) I wear is long.

Der Mann, der spricht, ist mein Vater: the man who speaks is my father.

Der Mann, von dem ich spreche, ist schlecht: the man, whom I speak, is bad.

(These relative pronouns do déclinate, but don't worry, there's a dedicated unit in the tree to teach you). And don't forget to always separate the subordinate from the main clause with a comma.

Don't hesitate to ask more. German sentences structure is hard, but there are rules: once we integrate them, everything seems natural. It takes time though ;)


Hi Vabelie, there is only one little mistake in your sentences.

Das Bett, wo ich schlafe, ist gemütlich. (Or you can say: Das Bett, in dem ich schlafe, ist gemütlich.) ;-))

Der Mann, von dem ich spreche, ist schlecht. Wouldn't that be: The man of whom I speak is bad. Or maybe: The man I speak of is bad. ? I am not a native English speaker, that is why I ask.. Thank you :-)


Oh dear, my conjugation… Thanks, Birgit.

You should be right also for the second sentence: I'm not English native either, and I was in a hurry. Never a good idea to give advice when you can't review yourself: bad girl me ;)

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