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
I think it would be okay if you used commas (natively English speaker, but I learnt by reading lots of books rather than learning grammar):
"We are reading, together, the book"
But it sounds odd. It sounds odd because you could re-order the sentence so that it flows much more smoothly, especially for just one word like in this case (together).
It's the kind of thing you'd say out loud, but probably never write. It's the kind of thing you'd say to emphasize that you're going to do it together. Maybe to a kid who didn't want to read.
Kid: "I want to play videogames instead."
Parent: "We are reading--together--the book."
In German, the sentence just means "We're reading the book together." In fact, you can even say "Together we are reading the book" in English. It sounds like something you'd find in a children's primer from the 50's or so, but other than being a little stiff, it's not at all a foreign concept in English.
"Together, we are reading the book" doesn't always sound stiff or formal, either, I suppose.
Really, it's a matter of emphasis. By Placing 'together' at the start, you're emphasising that the way you read the book is together.
It's the kind of thing you'd find (but not exclusively) in corporate or political material: "Together, we can prevent workplace accidents!" or "Together, we can defeat religious extremism!"
Or perhaps as a part of a larger sentence: "My daughter struggles to read Harry Potter in Spanish, but together we are reading the book."
Learning German has led me to understand more about the origins of English, and for that reason has inspired me to go and read some older English - such as from the 1400's to 1600's - because much of German sentence construction (especially word order) seems familiar to me as an English speaker, albeit archaic.
I became interested in the origins of English and after a bit of research (and pronunciation practice), I decided to study German as both languages come from West Germanic and are closely related. Since I couldn't study Old English in college, German has been a very rewarding alternative.
I cant explain the grammar, but let me give you example of sentences that are correct:
Together we read the book.
we read the book together.
we read together AROUND the book
and with a different kind of adverb:
quickly we eat the food.
we eat the food quickly.
we eat quickly AS the food is getting cold.
we quickly eat the food.
Can any one out there formailze why these sentences are ok, but others arent?