When it comes to forming sentences in English, anyone who is studying the language knows the drill: subject, verb, and object. In certain cases, German word order, or “Die Wortstellung,” follows the same basic rules as English. However, the language is more versatile, which can be confusing to newcomers. Starting with simple sentences is the best way to gain fluency in German.
Moreover, if you’re going to visit a German speaking country and want to use the basic German in conversations with the native speakers, learning German grammar is just as important as knowing some basic vocabulary and being familiar with the German culture. Even if you are able to recognize and use some common German phrases, you sill need to implement the corrent word order to not confuse people you’re talking to.
Today, we’ll teach you the fundamentals and provide you with some helpful resources for mastering German sentence structure. Thanks to them, you should be able to have a German basic conversation as well as use some basic German phrases which require conjugations and putting words in different moods. Overall, knowing German word order and sentences should help you speak German better and converse freely with people from German-speaking countries.
For instance, the most simple sentences in German are structured in the same way as they are in English, with the subject first, the verb second, and the object third. This helps us interpret basic English statements:
I’m eating cookies = “Ich esse Kekse.”
You see the child = “Du siehst das Kind.”
I follow the rules = “Ich befolge die Regeln.”
Simple German sentences, on the other hand, quickly become more nuanced as you begin to refer to events in the past or express circumstances. In certain cases, you’ll need an auxiliary verb, and your sentence will suddenly have two verbs. To construct a sentence with the correct German word order, you must first determine which verb is the dominant one.
Simple: the conjugated verb, which is also the auxiliary component of the verb, is always the dominant verb. The remainder of the verb phrase is either left in the infinitive or conjugated according to the necessary tense (past, future, and passive voice). The auxiliary verbs “haben,” “sein,” and “werden” mean “to have,” “to be,” and “to become” or “to will.”
Ich habe ein Handy gekauft = I have bought a mobile phone.
Du bist zu spät gekommen = You have come too late.
Er wird belogen = He is being lied to.
Modal verbs, when combined with the infinitive of a full verb, form a predicate that specifies or characterizes a relationship between the subject and the verb in a sentence. They work similarly to auxiliary verbs in terms of sentence structure. Other verbs can also be used in modal constructions, forming the infinitive with “zu” (to): “Du brauchst das nicht zu tun” means “You don’t have to do that.”
German modal verbs:
Dürfen = to be allowed to, may
Können = to can, be able to
Mögen = to like
Müssen = to have to, must
Sollen = should
Wollen = to want
A conjunction is a word that joins two sentences or portions of a sentence together. A relative clause is formed when one part depends on the other. In German, relative clauses have a different form than in English.
The word order of a dependent part of a sentence or sentences with certain conjunctions is different. They are organized in the CSOV format: conjunction, subject, object, verb. The main point to keep in mind is that the verb goes to the end of the sentence.
Er sagt, dass er beschäftigt ist. = He says he’s busy.
Ich weiß nicht, ob ich das kann. = I don’t know if I can do that.
Ich bleibe daheim, weil es regnet. = Ich stay at home because it’s raining.
Wir essen, bis nichts mehr da ist. = We eat until everything is gone.