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Are German and English sentences structured the same? Please help!

Are German sentences order the same as English sentences? Eg. Ein Mann trinkt = The man drinks. At least for this sentence, when the sentence is translated word for word, the words translate into an order that makes sense in English. Are German sentences structured the same as English?

If your are going to use English jargon like subject, clauses, etc. please give a definition of what they are, that would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

June 28, 2018



The short answer is "No"
Sometimes they are the same, as in your example... but often they are a bit different. I'll have a look for a recent post with explanations about subject,object, clauses etc. and put it here if no one beats me to it


EDIT: This post talks about some of the grammar...


My understanding of it is that for simple sentences with one verb and one object, Subject-Verb-Object order is fine just like in English:

Ein Mann trinkt Wasser

A man drinks water

(man-subject, drinks-verb, water-object)

But if you introduce 2 verbs, like: "A man would drink water" (drink and would) in German that would be:

Ein Mann würde Wasser trinken

"A man would water drink"

So the order would be: S-V-O-V

Because "two verbs repel one another" at least that's how I understood it.

Also, German has a more flexible word order than that of English because it has case markers:

(They all mean the same thing)

General order: Ich gebe einem Hund einen Apfel


Ich gebe einen Apfel einem Hund


Einem Hund, gebe ich einen Apfel

(correct me if I'm wrong)



Ray179270 was faster than me... but I'll post my some answer (but different words) anyway ;-):

They all mean the same but with a different emphazise:

  • Ich gebe dem Hund den Apfel. or Ich gebe einem Hund einen Apfel - that's kind of neutral and the most common order (dative object first [to whom], followed by accusative object [what]).
  • Ich gebe den Apfel dem Hund. - this is more or less the same. However, with the indefinite article word order sounds quite uncommon (even if I think it might still be grammatically correct): Ich gebe einen Apfel einem Hund.
  • Den/einen Apfel gebe ich dem/einem Hund - means that I give the/an apple to the dog but the/an orange.
  • Dem/einem Hund gebe ich den/einen Apfel- - means that I give the/an appel to the/a dog but not to the/a cat. Besides, to put a comma after Einem Hund would be wrong.


Please dind the answer below:

Sentence Structure & Word Order

A simple main clause in German can be written with the same word order as English:

Ich gab dem Jungen einen Ball. I gave the boy a ball.

However, unlike in English, the word order in a main clause can also be rearranged to emphasize something other than the subject by putting it first – so long as the conjugated verb remains in the second position:

Einen Ball gab ich dem Jungen. I gave the boy a ball. (as opposed to giving him something else)

Dem Jungen gab ich einen Ball. I gave the boy a ball. (as opposed to giving it to someone else)

With a compound verb (consisting of a main verb and a helping verb), English usually keeps the two parts together. In German the conjugated verb must be in the second position, while the other verb almost always goes at the end of the phrase:

Ich werde das Buch bald lesen. I will read the book soon.

In a subordinate clause, the verbs all go at the end of the phrase. If there’s more than one, the conjugated verb comes last:

Ich trinke, weil du mich verlassen hast. I’m drinking because you left me.


I hope this answer will help you.


Thank you so much everybody! I skimmed through the answers as I don't have much time at the moment, but I will give them all a detailed look later today. Thank you!


Ok studied German at C1 level. The answer is no. Basic rule of thumb disclaimer its been a while since i have actually had to study german gramamr is that the verb always goes in the second position. Further words in a sentence come at the end. Simple terms we have Ich schlafe. Ich muss schlafen. Ich muss schlafen gehen. Notice even with three verbs the other two go at the end and only the first verb is conjugated. That basic rule will see you through most basic sentences.

I would not worry about Nebensätze untill you arefurther along but if two sentences follow each other with out joining word the first verb of the second sentence comes at the begining. Wenn ich aufwache, muss ich zur Schule gehen.

With joining words it gets more complicated because some of them push all verbs to the end of a sentence. These kind of just need to be learnt and include words such as wenn, ob and dass. Ich glaube, dass ich zur schule gehen muss, wenn ich aufwache.

Like is said its been a while since I learnt german but i studied at c1 level, however I would not be as reliable as a professional teacher. Hope these basics help however, and honestly do not concern yourself too much. Just speak, write and read and eventually your brain will absorb the patterns. It takes time so do not let yourself get frustrated! Best of luck!


Isn't it schlafen, or that's another verb?


You are completely right, that will teach me to proof read lol. I will correct it now. Embarassing I made that mistake three times.... thanks for pointing it out though!


ich weiß nicht, wie ich das dir erklären soll, weil es ein schwieriges Thema ist.

I know not, how I that you to explain should, because it a hard topic is!

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