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diagram of word order in a declarative sentence or question for information

 Word Order in German Sentences

Word order is one of the places you can really perceive the "foreignness" of German to English: although there are many cognates between the two languages, the rules of word order function quite differently.

The keys to learning word order are persistence and patience. With repeated exposure to German word order through practice or simply reading you will become more comfortable with it and better able to understand and to express yourself.

 

detailed  diagram of delarative sentence or question for information

 Click here to find out about the Fussball.  

diagram of word order in a declarative sentence or question for information

Declarative Sentences
Independent Clauses

Inflected Verb

This part of the VERB uses the appropriate STEM with the appropriate ENDINGS to MATCH THE SUBJECT.

The inflected verb is always in SECOND POSITION.

Verbal Complement

This part of the verb is not inflected: it does not change to match the subject. Rather, it COMPLETES THE MEANING OF THE VERB introduced in the first box: this may be a SEPARABLE PREFIX, an INFINITIVE (with modals, or with werden to form the future tense), or a PARTICIPLE (with haben or sein to form the perfect and pluperfect, or with werden to form the passive).

Often, there is no verbal complement; this box is "empty."

diagram of word order in a declarative sentence or question for information

Front Field

This may contain only ONE ELEMENT.

ONLY ONE.

subject

direct object

indirect object

prepositional phrase

adverb

expression of time

dependent clause

 

CHOOSE ONLY ONE

Inner Field

You can click on each rule for examples and practice.

1. The inflected verb is always in the second position.

2. If the subject is not in the front field, it usually follows the inflected verb.

Objects in the inner field are arranged in order of increasing news value. Therefore,

3. noun objects (dative and accusative) follow pronoun objects, and . . .

4. nouns with indefinite articles follow nouns with definite articles.

5. Accusative and dative objects: when both are nouns, the accusative follows the dative. When both are pronouns, the dative follows the accusative.

6. TeMPo, TeMPo,TeMPo! Time, Manner, then Place.

7. "NICHT" goes as far to the end of the inner field as possible. Usually it follows objects and expressions of time.

8. Following "NICHT": predicate adjectives, predicate nouns, adverbs, adverbial phrases (such as directives, prepositional phrases expressing a destination).

To learn more about word order, click:

Questions
Subordinate (Dependent Clauses)

diagram of word order in a declarative sentence or question for information 

A. Campitelli, Greensboro, NC 1999-2004

Tips for Learning Word Order
Word Order Explanation with Exercise from German Grammar Roadmap, Tulane University
About.com on German Word Order

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