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Sentence structure of main clauses in German

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A main clause can stand alone as a full sentence. A main clause contains at least a subject, a verb and an object. The four cases are the reasons why we can identify the different role (subject or object position) of pronouns or nouns. Further, the German cases lead to a various range of ordering the parts of a sentence. This is important, if we are writing texts. 

For example:

  • Der Lehrer fragt den Schüler. - The teacher asks the student.
  • Den Schüler fragt der Lehrer. - The student is asked by the teacher.

The basic rules of sentence structure  

There are two different ways of forming the sentence structure. The first is for basic sentences, the other for compound tenses and sentences with separable prefixes.

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Regular word order with Subject and Verb

The regular word order used in basic sentences in German is as follows.

subjectconjugated verb (finite verb)object

Der Mann

(The man)

ist

(is)

unser Professor

(our professor)

Word order of compound tenses and separable prefixes

  1. The finite verb is always second in a sentence.
  2. The infinite verb is always at the end of a sentence (could be a infinitive, past participle, prefix)
type of the first positionfirst position in the sentence finite verbsubjectindirect objecttime placedirect objectinfinite verb
subjectDer Lehrerhat  dem Schülerheute im Unterrichteine Fragegestellt
indirect objectDem Schülerhatder Lehrer heute im Unterrichteine Frage gestellt
timeHeutehat der Lehrerdem Schüler im Unterrichteine Fragegestellt
placeIm Unterrichthat der Lehrerdem Schülerheute  eine Fragegestellt
direct objectEine Fragehat der Lehrerdem Schülerheuteim Unterricht gestellt

 

enlightenedIf the direct object is a pronoun, it is places before the indirect object: 

sie (die Frage): 

Der Lehrer hat sie dem Schüler heute im Unterricht gestellt. 

Different types of objects

There are different types of objects in German. 

Examplecategory of object

Maria wirft den Apfel.

(Maria throws the apple)

accusative object (Wen/was?)

Der Apfel gehört ihr.

(The apple belongs to her)

dative object  (Wem?)

Der Apfel ist ihrer.

(The apple is hers)

genitive object (Wessen?)

Sie denkt an ihn

(She thinks of him)

prepositional object

 


Exercises

  1. Exercise of rewriting German main clauses
  2. Exercise of forming a sentence
  3. Exercise of the German sentence structure.
  4. Exercise: Create a German main clause!

Exercise of rewriting German main clauses


Exercise of forming a sentence


Exercise of the German sentence structure.


Exercise: Create a German main clause!


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