When a subordinating conjunction occupies the first position, a dependent clause results. Keep in mind that, as the name implies, such a clause is not a whole sentence; an independent, or main clause must also be present. The primary feature of a dependent clause is that the finite verb is no longer in the second position, but moves to the end, following even the verb complement (if there is one).
Don't call it 'inversion'! That's not actually a thing. See here: https://yourdailygerman.com/german-main-clause-sentence-structure/
Wenn can mean 'when' for present events, future events, or repeated events in the past: http://marathonsprachen.com/when-to-use-wenn-wann-and-als/
why isn't 'if' accepted as a correct answer
Because 'if' is not a correct translation for Wenn sie kommt, essen wir -- you'll need quite a few more words to translate the entire sentence.
Please always quote your entire sentence when you have a question.
There are accepted answers that include the word "if", but without knowing what you wrote, it's impossible to comment further on what might have happened.
Context. Both are possible meanings without context, and so both translations are accepted here.
If you want to specify "if", you can say falls.
I can't think of a way to specify "when" while excluding "if".
Perhaps Germans don't consider themselves capable of seeing into the future, so predictions are always at least slightly hypothetical :)
I may be mistaken, but I can think of an explanation of this:
"Wenn" means "if" and also "when" in the sense of "if". It never implies time. Consider: "Wenn ich arbeite, esse ich" could be both "If I work, I eat" or "When I work, I eat". The work here means a condition necessary for eating, it does not indicate time. If you want to say "I eat when I work" it would imply time and would be more likely translated with "wann" or "während" (while).
Sorry if this is confusing; I'm not a native speaker.
Perfect! I was wondering how wenn could be both if and when (especially since it was pounded into us that wenn is if and wann is when).
I was about to translate "When she comes, eat us"... Then I remembered why declinations are important
So... correct me if im wrong please , but for me "Wenn sie kommt" is the subordinate clause, while "essen wir" is the main clause. Now, if thats correct then the verb in the main clause should be at the second position, which would not seem to be the case (you would expect "wir essen"). Reading the comments, however, I noticed that some people suggest that the the whole subordinate clause is actually part of the main clause (a pretty weird suggestion for me, because I've never seen it in any other language), in which case the verb "essen" does actually find itself in the second position, because the first one is then occupied by the subordinate clause itself.
My question is, is it actually correct to treat the whole sentence, including the subordinate clause, as one single main clause, and say that the first position is occupied by the subordinate clause... Again, to me, it seems really weird. It would be much more natural (yet possibily incorrect) to think of it in another way, saying something like: in cases in which the subordinate clause appears BEFORE the main clause, the word order in the main clause is ought to be changed, putting the verb in the first rather than second position (somehing like the concept of inversion in English, for example: Only when she comes shall we eat; and I'm only refering to the concept itself, and not the rules that govern it of course). As if to emphasize that we shall not eat before she comes, instead of just specifying the presumed in which we will eat...
Another thing I was wondering about (also came up in one of the comments, but still didn't get a clear answer): can you just put the subordinate clause AFTER the main one and say "Wir essen wenn sie kommt"? If you can indeed do such a thing, does it mean (my hypothesis) that putting it before rather than after the main clause puts more emphasis on the "condition" or "time constraint" (it's only when/if she comes, that we're gonna eat)? Do note that yet again it would become much more similar to English, and actually make sense, instead of simply being a grammatical rule based on nothing (which is usually NOT the case in my humble opinion).
Sorry about the length of my comment; I do hope that someone, hopefully a native speaker, would be able to asnwer those two questions.
There's no subject-verb inversion in German (although it often looks that way, examples are common that disprove the rule). The subordinate clause does indeed occupy first position in the main clause.
Wir essen, wenn sie kommt is also accepted. Don't forget the comma. The meaning is identical, and the emphasis too to my ears.
"essen" is not the first, not for a German. It is at the second position. I can't explain in which sentences the subordinated clause forms the first position, but here it forms the first position. Because the subordinated clause forms the first position, the verb "essen" is at the seconde position.
I read further down from a comment by snakey55 that when a sentence starts with "wenn" you end the first part of the sentence with a verb and start the second part of the sentence with a verb: so it becomes verb (comma:,) verb. I have looked at a few sentences and that seems to be the case. Hope this helps invisible1030. I think also that "essen wir" is the main clause here and not the subordinate clause. Check zekecoma's comment above.
You switch the word order in the second part of the sentence (the subordinate clause). When a sentence begins with "Wenn....", you end the first part with a verb and start the second part with a verb, so verb, comma, verb eg Wenn sie kommt, essen wir, Wenn ich traurig bin, gehe ich zur Kneipe, etc.
Thanks snakey55 for this explanation which will help me remember this sentence structure. So the second part"essen wir" "we eat" is a subordinate clause here? Someone in an earlier comment said that it is the main clause and thinking about it I tend to agree with it, as we eat or we are eating is complete and you don't need to add anything to it to make sense, whereas "when she comes"is not complete, as you will ask when she comes what?, so I think it is a subordinate or dependent clause. However, your explanation about the word order when using "wenn" is for helpful. Have a lingot from me.
Practice until it becomes second nature? :)
Not sure as I don't know your background.
If you grew up reading the King James Bible, then perhaps the -eth ending of older English may help: "she cometh" is similar to "sie kommt". (The older German was even more similar: "sie kommet" or something like that.)
The answer to this question is opposite to the explanation provided in the 'Tips and notes' section. In this section, it says when subordinating conjuctions are used (example: wenn), the verb moves from the second position to the last. Here; essen is in the second position. Can someone explain to me what the correct sentence structure would be? Thanks a lot!
The subordinate clause is wenn sie kommt and it has its verb kommt in the last position.
Movement is not to the end of a sentence but to the end of a clause.
If a subordinate clause comes first, it does not affect the position of the verb in the main clause -- Wir essen, wenn sie kommt and Wenn sie kommt, essen wir has essen in the second position of the main clause regardless of whether the subordinate clause is at the beginning or at the end.
If "sie" is the subject of the sentence (as it is in this exercise), the verb will be conjugated differently for "she" and "they": "Wenn sie kommt" = "When she comes" and "Wenn sie kommen" = "When they come."
If it's not the subject, you can't tell except from context. "Wir sehen sie" can be "We see her" or "We see them," and you would only know which from what was said earlier in the conversation or perhaps something nonverbal like pointing to someone.
We also have "Sie" meaning formal "you." Formal-you "Sie" is always capitalized, so "We see you [formal]" is "Wir sehen Sie." But when spoken, "Wir sehen s/Sie could be "We see her" or "them" or "you [formal]."
So many people asking why it's "essen wir" and not "wir essen" Read this: https://www.thoughtco.com/german-sentences-in-the-right-order-4068769
"The one thing you must remember is that when a sentence starts with a subordinate clause, as in the second example above, the very first word after the comma (before the main clause) must be the verb." Quoted from the article, though I think it's better you read all of it since it's about sentence structure in German which is important.
They both mean "when," but in different senses.
"Wann" is a question word, also for use in indirect questions. It's an adverb:
- "Wann kommt sie?"
- "Ich weiß, wann sie kommt."
"Wenn" is a conjunction, for sentences like "When X happens, Y happens":
- "Wenn sie kommt, essen wir."
- "Ich bringe immer mein Worterbuch, wenn ich nach Deutschland gehe."
One hundred and forty-four comments means this was not clearly explained. I went through maybe 40 of them and saw things I disagreed with and finally went to ThoughtCo, which gave this rule that makes the sentence in question make sense:
The one thing you must remember is that when a sentence starts with a subordinate clause, .... the very first word after the comma (before the main clause) must be the verb.
In the sentence above, "Wenn sie kommt" is a subordinate clause because it begins with a subordinating conjunction - wenn. THAT'S WHY "essen" must come after the comma.
I hope this helps others.
I think they want to emphasize that "kommen" is "to come," and not "to arrive" or "to bring" or anything else I can think of, to avoid future translation issues for you as you learn. That's my assumption, anyway. Hopefully that helps when you feel silly doing a direct translation in the future. :) They seem to want it to grammatically function in your English translation (not "when the water comes, drink I," for example), but when it comes to word translation, direct translation is best even if it isn't how a native English speaker would necessarily say it. (Just what I've noticed.)
I would disagree. The normal process for me when speaking or writing German is to begin with the English sentence in my mind and translate and then construct the German. I find it much more valuable building German sentence FROM English. Unfortunately the ratio is about 9:1 against this. Maybe 1:1 would be better.
You use "als" in the past only if it was a one-time thing. For example:
- "Als ich ein Kind war, habe ich immer Kuchen gegessen"
- "Als ich klein war, war alles besser"
Wenn can be used in the past if the action occurred multiple times. For example:
- Immer wenn ich nach Hause gekommen bin, habe ich eine heiße Schokolade getrunken.
- Jedes Mal wenn du schliefst, schnarchtest du
Not a translation error.
The English word "when" has several uses. Some of those map to German wann, some to wenn, some to als.
"when" as a conjunction referring to a future event, as in this sentence, is German wenn.
You're right that that can also be interpreted as "if".
Wann sie kommt essen wir would not make grammatical sense in German.
You only use "wann" for a question, or a question rewritten into a statement (where's it's an adverb / question word). "Wann kommt sie?" "Ich weiß nicht, wann sie kommt."
"Wenn" is "if," but it's also "when" in the sense of a connecting two events (as a coordinating conjunction). "Wenn sie kommt, essen wir." The difference is that here, we're connecting two events ("She comes" and "We eat"), whereas in my above example "Wann sie kommt" is telling what "I" don't know instead of being a separate event.
As another example, "Wenn sie mir sagt, wann sie kommt, essen wir." "Wenn" because it's connecting the events of "She tells me when she's coming" and "We eat." "Wann" because "wann sie kommt" is what she's telling me, rather than there being two separate events (her telling me and her coming).
Note that you only use "wenn" if the event is in the future (or for a recurring event in the present-- "Whenever X happens, ..."); if it's in the past, use "als" ("Als sie gekommen ist, haben wir gegessen").
It's a really tricky difference, but I hope that made sense.
No; it's a bit more complicated than that.
"When" in English has two main functions -- a question word and a conjunction.
The question word is wann in German. (Including indirect questions.)
The conjunction is als for a single event in the past, and wenn for a single event in the future as well as for repeated events in the past.
For example, consider the sentence "I will know when he comes."
That could have two meanings:
"I will know the time of his arrival." (Ich werde wissen, wann er kommt.) -- indirect question, uses wann
"When he comes, I will know (that). // I will know (that information) at the time that he comes." (Ich werde es wissen, wenn er kommt.) -- conjunction indicating when the main clause happens, uses wenn since it's a future thing
In Duo's sentence, wenn is used because the wenn sie kommt clause indicates the time when the wir essen action happens.
wann? is the direct question "when?"
wenn is the conjunction "when" for the future, or for repeated events in the past.
And als is the conjunction "when" for single events in the past.
Wann wirst du kommen? "When will you come?"
Es wird morgen regnen, wenn du kommst. "It will rain tomorrow when you come."
Es hat gestern geregnet, als du gekommen bist. "It rained yesterday when you came."
Basically, wann? is for "at what time?" while wenn and als are for "at the time when".
Not quite; "wenn" can also mean "when."
"Wann" is for questions ("When did X happen?" uses "wann"), including indirect questions ("I know when X is happening" also uses "wann"). "Wenn" is "when" or "if" in a subordinate clause ("When X happens, Y happens" uses "wenn"). Here, German doesn't make a distinction between "when" and "if" ("wenn" is used for both), so for this exercise, you can translate as either "when" or "if."
It's a tricky distinction sometimes, but that is how it works.
Here the lesson misses grammar really. You can learn from one mistake, but whole lesson of errors just creates an utter chaos. Fail Duolingo!
"Denn" is coordinate conj. "because", weil is subordinate conj. "because". But if you use "because" contextually (one thing explains/conditions another), how on Earth can you not make subordinate clause as such? I cannot imagine "because" in coordinating-context.
Both "weil" and "wenn" and "dass" are subordinate conj. but some require verb in last position and some require inversion of verb and noun? When, why, how?
Extend the grammar part please, because here I am not learning.
"Wenn sie kommt" is a subordinate clause. In a subordinate clause, the verb goes at the end, hence "kommt" last.
The main clause is "... essen wir," where the verb goes in second position as it normally does. The subordinate clause "Wenn sie kommt" takes up the first position in this main clause, so "essen" goes immediately after.
I've heard good things about the book English Grammar for Students of German.