German Word Order

Learn word order in German

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German Word Order

1. In most sentences, the order is subject - verb - time - manner - place. 

Ich gehe morgen mit dem Bus in die Schule.  I'm going to school tomorrow by bus.

2. Sometimes another element begins a sentence instead of a subject.  Then the verb is still in the second position (it is not necessarily the second word!), but the subject follows it.

Morgen gehe ich mit dem Bus in die Schule.  Tomorrow I'm going to school by bus.

3. In sentences with more than one verb or with past participles, the conjugated verb remains in the normal position and the infinitive or past participle goes to the end of the sentence.

Ich will nach Hause gehen.  I want to go home.
Ich habe dir geglaubt.  I believed you.

4. When asking questions, you can usually just invert the subject and verb.

Kann ich jetzt gehen?  Can I go now?

5. In sentences with dependent clauses (phrases that have a subject and verb but cannot stand alone as sentences), the verb in the dependent clause is last.  Dependent clauses are introduced with a comma and certain conjunctions, such as als-when, bevor-before, bis-until, damit-so that, dass-that, wenn-if/when, ob-whether, obwohl-although, nachdem-after, da-since, während-while, weil-because, and wie-how.  However, these conjunctions use normal word order:  und-and, oder-or, aber-but, denn-for/because.

Ich bleibe im Bett, wenn ich krank bin.  I stay in bed when I am sick.

6.  If there is a separable prefix verb in a dependent clause, the prefix remains attached to the verb, and the entire verb goes to the end of the sentence, whereas normally the prefix would go to the end.

Er ist immer müde, wenn er früh aufsteht.  He is always tired when he gets up early.

7.  When there are two verbs in a dependent clause (such as a modal and an infinitive), the modal goes last, following the infinitive.

Er ist müde, wenn er früh aufstehen muss.  He is tired when he must get up early.

8.  When a dependent clause begins a sentence, it acts as an element, therefore the subject and verb in the following clause are inverted.

Wenn ich krank bin, bleibe ich im Bett.  When I am sick, I stay in bed.

9. If you have both direct and indirect pronouns in your sentence, remember that if the direct object is a noun it is placed after the indirect object.  If the direct object is a pronoun, it goes before the indirect object.  So basically the only time the accusative is placed before the dative is when the accusative is a pronoun.

Ich schenke meinem Bruder eine Krawatte.  I give my brother a tie.
Ich schenke sie meinem Bruder.  I give it to my brother.



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