They are not very different.
"Gemeinsam" hints more to a voluntary action (we read it together, because we like reading together)
"Zusammen" is more neutral: (We read it together, because we can't have one each).
It is odd to have "Gemeinsam" at the beginning of the sentence, and even odder to start the sentence with "Zusammen". It could happen, though, if you were talking about a lot of things you were NOT doing together, and now you have something you do together AT LAST.
"Gemeinsam" is always about people (Hans gemeinsam mit Franz), "zusammen" can as well be about things (Das Buch zusammen mit dem Teegeschirr)
N.B. "Hans und Franz lesen das Buch zusammen mit dem Erläuterungsheft" does NOT mean they are doing this together!
If they are working together, it would be: "Hans und Franz lesen gemeinsam das Buch zusammen mit dem Erläuterungsheft"
Or, slightly more elegant: "Hans und Franz lesen gemeinsam das Buch mitsamt dem Erläuterungsheft"
Danke! So my understanding is that by putting gemeinsam first in the sentence, that gives it the emphasis. As in, the point of the sentence is to say that the action happened together. Your explanation seems to agree with that, but for clarification is that the best way to think about it?
that's exactly what my tutor said. you could switch the sentence around to put the emphasis on something else, like the book, for instance and it would still make sense overall.
here's a helpful article about german syntax my tutor wrote. the blog entries following explain it in further detail:
So if it is done for emphasis, is it like phrasing the sentence in English like "Together, we read the book."?
The most common word order would be: "Wir lesen das Buch zusammen." But it also kind of depends on the verbal concept - whether is it the book reading (Buch lesen - Wir lesen zusammen das Buch) or the reading together (Zusammen lesen - Wir lesen das Buch zusammen) what you want to express. In both cases you have a conceptual entities which are made of a verb and an object (not limited to only nouns as you can see) and the structure of a sentence should be verb in the second place and the object that is necessary to its meaning in this sentence is at the end of the sentence.
Both are correct. It all comes down to what you want to emphasise. When you say: "Gemeinsam wir lesen das Buch", the emphasis is on together (as in we are in a group doing something), but with: "Wir lesen das Buch gemeinsam", you are basically saying that you are reading a book together so the emphasis is on the activity itself (activity being reading together). Generally in German you put the verb in the second place in the sentence and build around it.
Yes, that would be correct as well. The "das" which is equivalent to English "this" is always an EMPHASIZED "das":
"DAS Buch lesen wir zusammen/gemeinsam" = "THIS is the book we are reading together.
This emphasized "das" fits better in the beginning rather than the middle of the sentence.
"Dies, dieses" is usually wrong when used as a translation of "this" - it should be only used when some definite sampling or choosing has taken place. So, for example, after having read through 20 books at the bookstall, you can tell the shop keeper: "Ich nehme dieses hier"
But more often than not translating "this" with "dies" gives you away as a clueless foreigner.
(1) Just "Wir lesen das Buch" could be one after the other. The "gemeinsam" is not completely redundant.
(2) "Wir lesen das Buch gemeinsam" is perfectly okay. Also probably the best way of distributing the emphasis - it is more probable you want to make a point of reading it TOGETHER (and not each one on his own), rather than of reading the BOOK (instead of reading something else).
Yes, although I'd probably say "wir lesen gemeinsam das Buch". All three are quite understandable.
The last time I bought a couple German story books for a friend's kid, my friend said "Ihr könnt sie gemeinsam lesen." ("sie" refers to "die Bücher") So there's an example from a native German speaker.
German is pretty flexible on what can be put first in the sentence. Putting something first is either a matter of what you want to emphasise or simply a stylistic choice. So you could say "Geminsam lesen wir das Buch" ("We are reading the book TOGETHER") or "Das Buch lesen wir geminsam" ("We are reading the BOOK together") etc etc