Sentence Structure Difference between English and Danish
I am trying to learn Danish. However sentence structuring is giving me troubles.
For simple Assertive sentences, the structure in English and Danish appears same. But it gets confusing when I move to different types.
English- Maybe he speaks English. Danish- Maske snikker han Englisk. (Verb and Subject interchanged position).
So what are the rules? Are the "Maybe" sentences only exception? Please help.
The basic rule is verb second: "he speaks Danish" = "(1) han (2: verb) taler (3) dansk". Perhaps he speaks Danish = "(1) Måske (2: verb) taler (3) han (4) dansk". "In the morning, he speaks Danish" = "(1) Om morgenen (2: verb) taler (3) han (4) dansk". So if the sentence begins with anything other than the subject ("he" in these sentences), the verb must come before the subject. "In Sweden, there are many rules" = "I Sverige er der mange regler" because the verb, "er" must come second just after "I Sverige".
This difference exists between Danish and English whenever you have a subclause: "If we are late, (subclause) then we will miss the train" = "Hvis vi kommer for sent, når vi ikke toget". The condition ("if we are late") serves as the first element, meaning that the verb ("når") must come straight after this. "At school, you must be quiet" = I skolen skal du være stille. The condition "at school" is followed directly by the verb "skal".
Thanks a lot @baerghest. Your explanation is very lucid and helpful. :-) So interrogative sentences are only exception to this rule?
Eng- does she speak Danish? Dan- Snikker hun Densk?
I think interogatives are the only normal exceptions.
We do have strange word order in some of the old fashioned poetry as well, as in English, but even there I think the verb second rule is respected. The only other case I can think of is the conjuctive, which barely survives in modern Danish. Take this example, from one of the hymns: "Stod alle Konger frem på Rad/I deres Magt og Vælde/De mægted ej det mindste Blad/At sætte på en Nælde": "Were all kings to stand in row/In their power and glory/They might not the least leaf/(to) Put on a nettle". As in English, this conjuctive sentece could begin either with a verb or with a conditional "if", where modern Danish would then default to standard grammar: "Hvis alle konger stod...". I think this particular grammatical case is almost archaic today, used largely in legislation, insurance and so on. The phase "skulle det være tilfældet, da ..." ("should that be the case, then ...") survives, but probably more as a relict than as part of everyday grammar. I am fairly sure you can read an entire newspaper today without finding a single conjuctive case on this pattern, and I would not dare to inflect any other verb than "skal" and "har" in the conjuctive, for fear of being misunderstood.