Chapter 10: Sentence Structure │ German Grammar

This post is also available in: German

The sentence structure in German is more flexible then in many other languages. Nevertheless there are some rules for word order that you have to follow.

This chapter is all about German word order and sentence structure. The following lectures explain everything you have to know: main and subordinate clauses, questions, infinitive clauses, conjunctions, subordinate clauses, and conjunctive adverbs.

German Main Clauses

German Main Clauses

Main clauses are grammatically correct, full sentences that can stand alone. Most often they contain the subject, a verb and one or more objects. Most often the verb is in position 2.

Example: „Anna kauft einen Hut."

German Sentence Brackets

German Sentence Brackets

Some verbs use a prefix or are used in combination with a second verb. The conjugated verb stays in position 2 but the prefix or second verb goes at the end. This creates brackets that contain all of the other information ⇒ sentence brackets.

Example: „Ich stehe um 6 Uhr auf."

How to ask questions in German?

How to ask questions in German

We divide questions into: W–Questions (Open Questions) and Yes/No–Questions (Closed Questions)

Example:

  • Woher kommst du?“ - „Ich komme aus Deutschland."
  • „Kommst du aus Deutschland?“ - „Ja/Nein

German Negation

Greman Negation

There are 3 main ways to negate something:

  1. Nein: „Willst du ein Eis?“ ; „Nein!“
  2. Kein: „Ich möchte kein Eis!“
  3. Nicht: „Ich mag Eis nicht!“

German Conjunctions

German Conjunctions

Conjunctions combine words, phrases, sentence elements, or entire sentences with each other. There are two main types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

Example:

  • Tanja und Boris sehen fern.
  • Fahren wir zu Oma oder bleiben wir Zuhause?“

German Conjunctive Adverbs

German conjunctional adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs that combine sentences, clauses, words, and phrases with each other. The difference between conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs: conjunctive adverbs are a part of the sentence while conjunctions are not.

Example: „Anna kommt später, außerdem kommt Jan auch später."

German Subordinate Clauses

German SUbordinate Clauses

Normally, they can not stand alone. They give additional information related to the main clause. They are joined to the main clause with conjunctions (dass, wenn, weil, …) or relative pronouns. The conjugated verb goes at the end of the clause.

Example: „Es wird kalt, wenn ich das Fenster aufmache.“

German Infintive Clauses

German Infintive Clauses

Infinitive clauses are clauses where we do not conjugate the verb. It keeps its infinitive form. A infinite clause belongs to the group of subordinate clauses. But it is a really special one, because there is no subject in the infinitive clause and we can only use it with specific verbs.

Example: „Ich versuche, das Tor zu treffen.“

German Infinitive Constructions (um/anstatt/ohne... zu... )

German Infinitive Constructions

Infinitive constructions are subordinate clauses with „um…zu…“, „ohne…zu…“ and „(an)statt…zu…“. They are independent of the verb in the main clause and every form has its own meaning. Like in infinitive clauses, there is no subject and the verb stays in infinitive form.

Example: „Ich lerne Deutsch, um in Deutschland arbeiten zu können.


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