The verb in the main sentence should take the second position. "Wenn sie kommt" is treated as a single unit in this context, and after it comes the verb "essen".
- wenn sie kommt (subordinate clause)
The verb is in the second position of the main clause, and the first position of the main clause is filled by the subordinate clause as a single unit.
ah !that's much clearer now thanks !! i was thinking the second position conserns its placement according to its subjsect in the main clause not in the whole sentence
Yes, in the main clause, but for counting purposes, a relative clause counts as part of the main clause.
"Wenn sie kommt" is not a relative clause but an adverbial clause of time. Relative clauses modify nouns.
True; it's not a relative clause. I changed my comment to read "subordinate clause".
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).
Looks like inversion takes places in subordinate clauses. Anyone, correct me if i am wrong
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/
Normally, '' wenn'' is use for If. Only if the sentence mentions time, then we can assume '' wenn '' as ''when''. Btw, ''wann'' is use as ''when'' when asking question. Please correct me if i am wrong.Thanks
I don't get it. The verb comes at the end in a subordinate clause, but why would the verb come before the subject in the main clause?
Because the verb has to be the second thing in the main clause.
If there is something before the verb -- such as an adverb (Morgen essen wir) or a subordinate clause (Wenn sie kommen, essen wir) -- then the subject has to come after the verb.
What if I wanted to say this sentence in the opposite order (we'll eat when she comes)? "Wir essen, wenn sie kommt"?
That's perfectly grammatical, but Duo probably won't accept it since it's such a substantial change the sentence structure.
Translating it into "When she ARRIVES, we eat", should be correct? I put "comes" instead of "arrives" and it was correct. But I question it because "arrives" was the first word to come to my mind.
No, "as soon as" would be "sobald" or "sogleich".
"Wenn" means "if" or a conditional "when".
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 :)
Ok thanks ! I didn't find the answer in the comments, thanks again for all the info. That was what I would have guessed, I just wanted to be sure :)
“We eat when she comes.” is incorrect, but “When she comes we eat.” is correct. Strange.
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.
It is a very good explanation Olimo for one who is not a native (German?) speaker. Have a lingot for this.
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 think it's just a Duolingo thing that they want it to be in that particular order. :)
If it was "they", it would say "Wenn sie kommen, essen wir". Kommt is singular.
Yes, your sentence is right. As the "if" clause comes first in the exercise, we have to switch the natural order from "wir essen" to "essen wir".
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.
I was about to translate "When she comes, eat us"... Then I remembered why declinations are important
Could have sworn this was going to be translated "when she comes, we eat her" or "she eats us".... Imagine my disappointment!!
"When she comes, we eat her" = Wenn sie kommt, essen wir sie
"When she comes, she eats us" = Wenn sie kommt, isst sie uns
Pay attention to the verb conjugation and the case of the pronouns!
"When she comes, we are eating" is accepted. But it means different thing compared to "when she comes, we eat". Would someone pls comment which one is more accurate? Thanks
Both are as good as each other. In English I think the more natural way would be to say "We are eating when she gets here."
Why is essen first? I've been told the verb is supposed to be in the second position for a regular sentence and last for a subordinate clause, so why is it first?
"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.
is there anything in this sentence that lets me know it is she instead of they? because I thought you could only know through context... halp!
When sie is the subject, then the verb will show you which is meant.
sie kommt = she comes
sie kommen = they come
When sie is the direct object, you can't tell the difference except through context, e.g. ich sehe sie = I see her/them.
Okay, that makes sense. Thank you! (I don't suppose you have any tips on how to remember which is which?)
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.)
why we can't translate this as "when you come, we eat" ? just because the verb is in singular form?
Not only is the verb in the singular form, but the polite "you" is always capitalised -- so even if the sentence had been Wenn sie kommen, essen wir it would have been "When they come, we eat" and a translation with "you" (Sie) would not have been possible.
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.
My teacher told me "wann"="when", e.g. Wann kommst du? (Is it "when are you coming?" I'm confused...). And here it goes "Wenn sie kommt..." So, do "wenn" or "wann" both mean "when"? Danke. (:
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."
It feels slightly more natural to me in English to say .."when she gets here" rather than .... when she comes...", but that was marked wrong?? Maybe DL just cannot identify subtle differences like that.
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 am suggesting "We will eat when she arrives." as a natural English sentence with the same meaning.
I find that this is a good way to learn German, as you are forced to translate it into a language you are familiar with.
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.
I totally agree... It makes my brain work harder to remember the vocab when I have to translate English into German so I prefer it that way instead of German to English
Aren't we suppose to put the second verb of a phrase at the end of it?
That applies when there are two verbs in the same clause. In this sentence, we have a subordinate clause with one verb in it (wenn sie kommt,) and a main clause with one verb in it (…essen wir).
You have to look at the verb's ending.
- sie kommt = she comes
- sie kommen = they come
Is "Wenn kommt sie, essen wir." correct? If not, why? I thought the verb comes first in the subordinate clause!!!
It can also mean "when", if you are talking about the future. German doesn't make the same clear distinction as English, between if and when. If you're talking about the past however, you use "als", such as "Als sie kam, haben wir zusammen gegessen."
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
I thought "if she comes we eat" would be the only correct answers, so why is when she comes we eat also correct?
- Is it grammatically correct? - Yes.
- Does it mean the same thing? - Yes.
- Does Duolingo accept it? - That I don't know.
I wrote 'When she comes, we shall eat@. This was shown as 'corrected' to 'we will eat'. We were taught that I and we should be followed by 'shall', other pronouns by 'will'. ie I shall, you will, etc.
Is "Wir essen, wenn kommt sie." correct? would the meaning be the same using that word order? Why is the sentence if the exercise in that particular order?
The verb moves to the end of a subordinate clause: "Wir essen, wenn sie kommt." The meaning wouldn't change.
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.
ok now wenn is used as when, but "when" was considered a mistake previously and duo told me i should use "if"
How would I say, "if she comes, we eat". For instance, if she is delivering pizza to us?
That would be the same sentence. Context would dictate whether you were expecting her to come (and so give the interpretation of "when") or unsure if she was coming (and so indicate "if").
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.
This looks like "Cuando ella venga, comemos nosotros". Same meaning in the 3 languages.
So Wenn can mean "if" or "when", and Wann always means "when" ?
And "when" can also be translated as als....
The female speaker's voice is very hard to understand. She sounds as though she's about five years old and has no idea what she's reading.
I am confused ... I thought "wann" is German for when... and yet I see many sentences that use "wenn" for English when, and only a few that actually use "wann. Any thoughts?
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 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.