I don't think it is the same as that, because in your example the two sentences are different in what is subject ("they" vs "water)", because the verb is in its active form in the first case, passive in the second.
In German the two sentences "Sie mögen Wasser nicht" and "Wasser mögen Sie nicht" are just the same (I think! German-speakers please correct me if necessary), the different order does not give any different role/value to the words and "Sie" is the subject in both cases... Isn't it?
a sentence doesn't have to make sense to be grammatically correct (and possible), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorless_green_ideas_sleep_furiously
Also, wouldn't the 'sie' be capitalized to suggest third person plural, or is that only the case when differentiating between formal/informal versus third person singular. This program does not make any attempt to differentiate or start by simply conjugating verbs- i.e. ich, du, er/sie/es, wir, ihr, sie/Sie. Umlauts are not initially brought up nor 's' sets. I would have been so lost if I had not already formally studied some German.
Instead of "Sie mögen Wasser nicht" you'd more often hear "Sie mögen kein Wasser." In Germany you have the possibility to put an object in the beginning whenever you want, for emphasis or some other purpose:
"Sie mögen kein Wasser, aber ihre Kinder, die trinken gerne Wasser!"
"Wasser mögen sie nicht, aber Bier schon!"
"Der Hund hat den Knochen gefressen"
"Den Knochen hat der Hund nicht gefressen, aber das Fleisch schon!"
The verb comes second. The first element is often the subject, but it can be another element. The idea is the new information comes at the end. So if you say "Wasser mögen sie nicht", it probably means that the subject of the conversation is water, and you want to put forward the information that "they" don't like it.
It's like in Italian, you can change the order. You can say "A loro l'acqua non piace", or "L'acqua non piace loro" or "L'acqua a loro non piace". By the way, "piacere" is an intransitive verb in Italian, do things are a little more complicated. It's like "gefallen" in German.
Look at the verb's conjugation. If it means "they", the verb will end in -en (at least in present tense). If it means "she", the verb will end in -t. See also http://german.about.com/library/anfang/blanfang04b.htm
With third person plural there is the familiar versus the formal. If you knew a person well i.e. friend or family member that would be a non capitalized 'sie', whereas the formal would be addressed to someone on a professional or diplomatic sense and would get the capital 'S'.
See some references on how and where to use the word “nicht”: http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/The-Position-Of-Nicht.htm http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/German-Negation.htm
In non-question sentences the verbs goes always to the second place. Things get complicated with modal verbs (more than one verb in the main clause) and with dependent clauses (different types of clauses need different word orders). But with basic sentences the “verb on the second position” works.
this discussion has helped me a lot. So, it's sie=they when the verb (regular of course) ends in ...en. I'm hooking that to "they+en=then". Ok, next we have sie = she with singular verb ending ...t, and finally Sie (caps) with plural verb for formal I'll remember the big S is for BIG shots. Of couse if sie/Sie is at the beginning of a sentence it's up to the verb again. Thanks to everyone for the help.
Hi, thank you for posing this wonderfully insightful question.
Since 'sie' (them) remains 'sie', when changing from the nominative to the accusative, my question is if this sentence can be understood as 'Water doesn't like them' since you can't tell the case by 'sie'? 'Wasser' lacks a pronoun so I can't tell if it is the subject or the object either. Many thanks!
The verb mögen shows that the subject is first person plural or third person plural.
So at best, it could mean "Waters don't like them" -- but as in English, "water" is rarely spoken of in the plural in German, so that would be an unlikely interpretation of Wasser mögen sie nicht.; it's much more likely for the subject of mögen to be sie.
If you want to use Sie for "you", then Wasser mag Sie nicht.
Note that the verb will change to agree with the subject Wasser.
However, with a plural subject, e.g. Möbel mögen sie nicht, it could mean either "Furniture does not like them" or "They do not like furniture".
I feel your confusion...It seems like German always puts the negative at the end of the sentence, not (well, not always anyway.)
Here, take a look at these links. It might help to resolve your confusion. You will get to the point when you'll just instinctively know which one to use...but, where to use it still gets me confused sometimes. Good luck!
Is the only reason we can tell that sie is the subject is because mögen can't refer to Wasser?
Does the sentence "Bären mögen sie nicht" translate to "they don't like the bears" or "the bear doesn't like her"or something else entirely
It could mean either "Bears do not like her", "Bears do not like them", or "They don't like bears". (Bären cannot mean "the bear" or "the bears".)
In speech, you would be able to tell what was the subject from intonation (and context).
In writing, it's ambiguous, and would generally be understood as having Bären being the subject if there was no context, since subject–verb–object is the default word order.
To expose you to sentences that do not have the subject first -- Germans sometimes put other parts at the beginning or end to emphasise or focus them.
Here, for example, Wasser could be a topic -- a bit as if you had said: "I'll tell you something about water: they don't like it" or "As for water: they don't like it".
The emphasis is a bit different between Sie mögen kein Wasser and Wasser mögen sie nicht, even if the basis meaning is similar.
So you should expect to encounter sentences with non-default word order and be able to understand them correctly.
I'm afraid not. "mögen" makes "sie" into "they" in this instance.
Wasser mögen sie nicht = They do not like water.
Wasser mag sie nicht = She does not like water.
Wasser mögen Sie nicht = You (formal) do not like water.
(all of these put the emphasis on Wasser).
It could also be stated as:
Sie mögen Wasser nicht. = They/You do not like water.
Sie mag Wasser nicht. = She does not like water.
(all of these put the emphasis on Sie)
I vaguely understand why this happens, but I need somebody to clarify something, please. If it were "She does not like water" then it could be "Wasser magt sie nicht", right? If that's the case, then how does one tell that it means this instead of "Water doesn't like her"? Is it just that they would not do this in situations where to two could possibly be confused? For instance, you wouldn't use the example I gave because it would be confusing and you wouldn't be able to say "Manner mogen sie nicht" because it could mean "Men don't like women" instead of "Women don't like men". Or is it that the word "nicht" going at the end instead of following the verb tells the person that the word order was changed?
If it were "She does not like water" then it could be "Wasser magt sie nicht", right?
Nearly: Wasser mag sie nicht (no -t on mag -- for the same historical reason that we say "she may come" and not "she mays come": no -s on "may").
If that's the case, then how does one tell that it means this instead of "Water doesn't like her"?
The sentence is ambiguous.
But in general, the unmarked sentence order is "subject - object - verb", so when it's not clear from case endings what is the subject and what is the object, then usually, the noun phrase before the verb is considered the subject.
Here, though, the animacy hierarchy also comes into play: sie is a personal pronoun, which is much higher on the animacy hierarchy than Wasser, which is inanimate -- so sie is much more likely to be the subject than Wasser is.
So Wasser mag sie nicht would probably be interpreted with Wasser being the object and sie being the subject.
(One version of the animacy hierarchy is on https://www.frathwiki.com/Animacy_hierarchy .)
With something like Die Mädchen mögen sie nicht, it would be more ambiguous, since both sie and die Mädchen are animate and either could be a reasonable subject, so that sentence would be more likely to be understood as "The girls don't like her/them" (subject–verb–object) than "They don't like the girls" (object–verb–subject).
In speech, you have emphasis and word stress, which is not expressed in writing.
In both speech and writing, you have context, which can also help.
But in general, if you want to communicate clearly, you might want to avoid putting the object first unless context or animacy makes it reasonably clear that the thing before the verb is the object, not the subject.
you wouldn't be able to say "Manner mogen sie nicht" because it could mean "Men don't like women" instead of "Women don't like men".
It's Männer mögen, not Manner mogen. (If you can't type the umlauts, then write Maenner moegen. Don't just omit the dots entirely; they distinguish words: schon is not the same as schön, etc.)
And "wouldn't be able to say" is a bit strong.
The default interpretation is with Männer as the subject, but you could get away with using it as the object if you have sufficient context.
I understand how you feel, but I keep telling myself that I learned English, and German actually has better rules and makes more sense than all of the exceptions that exist in English. It's confusing at times to learn German, but I have noticed that the more I learn, the easier things get. Also, the more I really understand the earlier lessons. Keep trying...and good luck!