German grammar question
When asking a question in German, does the subject always immediately follow the verb?
Hi Marco, the subject follows the verb unless you ask for the subject.
Geht er nach hause? = Does he go home?
Wann geht er nach hause? = When does he go home?
Wer geht nach hause? = Who goes home?
The last question wants to know "who" the person is that does something.
Not quite true. Questions with verbs that take dative objects generally have a different word order when this object is a pronoun, sometimes even when it is a noun. And this word order is not only true for questions, but also when something else - e.g. an adverb - is at the start of a sentence, which also requires inversion of subj - verb.
- Warum kann mir keiner sagen, wie spät es ist? - Keiner is the subject, but does not immediately follow the verb. (Why can’t anybody tell me what time it is?)
- Gestern fiel ihm das viel leichter. (Yesterday, it was much easier for him.)
- Heute gab ihm seine Freundin einen Korb. (Today, his girlfriend turned him down.)
- Aufgeregt liest ihm seine Frau den Brief vor. (Excited, his wife reads the letter to him.)
- Warum hilft dem Mann niemand? (Why doesn’t anybody help the man?)
It is not necessarily a grammatical error to place the subject before the dative pronoun, but the standard German word order prefers to put the objects in the order from least informative to most informative, i.e. the most informative/important/new information is often at the end of the sentence. Therefore, this order V Dativ/indirect Obejct S can also occur whem the dative object is a noun as in the last example above.
Hi Jileha, I really forgot about the dative cases.. :-(
But I wanted to keep my answer as simple as I could make it due to the OP's level of German and then I haven't thought about this... Since he asked for questions I refrained from talking about statements.. Thank you for clearing this up. :-))
I agree, the level was a bit of a concern for me as well, but sooner or later Marco will get hit with it anyways! :)
And the German word order is a fascinating beast, but a beast it is!
You are still at the early stage of German. Most official publications on word order would probably throw too much unknown vocabulary and grammar at you.
Just keep working your way down the DL tree and follow their examples. I’m not familiar with the German tree but would imagine that they introduce the different word order aspects by and by and give you time to practice them. Keep asking questions in the forum or the discussions.
OK, try this one. But don’t complain later! :P
They’re actually doing quite a good job IMO by throwing it all at you and then distilling it in the second part to the main underlying principle. But it’s just a lot to digest at your learning stage. I’m not even sure how helpful this blog would be as a reference, but the references I have seen are often too simplistic. On the other hand, it’s good to keep it simple at the beginning. Mastering the German word order will turn you into a virtuoso of the German language! :)