German Sentence Structure – The Beginning and the End

Hello everyone,

and welcome to the second part of our look at the basics of

German Sentence Structure

And because that sounds very boring and dry, we’ll from now on call it

“The Tao of Sen”

In the first part (find it here), we took a brief look at sentences in general and then focused on the struct… I mean Tao of main sentences.
Here it is again:

We then talked about the “verb second” and that’s where we left off.
Today, we’ll explore the other important positions, namely the first position and the end of the sentence.
And in part three, in the extra long season finale, we’ll then finally talk about side sentences, see what they are, learn a really intuitive hack why their structure makes sense AND we’ll find out one of the deepest, mind-bendingest and most surprising insights about the German language (and that you already know if you’re a long time reader ;)).
So yeah… the last episode is top notch. But the one of today isn’t bad either. You know… one of those bori... I mean slow mid-season episodes.
By the way, I desperately need series recommendations for the coming winter, so if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments.
But now, are you ready to jump back into the “Tao of Sen“?
Then let’s go.

As I said, we’ll talk about the beginning and the end of a sentence today, and of course we’ll begin with the beginning.

The First Element or “The Tao of One”

In the last episode, we learned that the verb in a German main sentence always sits in the second position. That means there is exactly ONE open slot in front of it.
That’s very different to English where you can pile up three elements in front of the verb without problems.

  • Yesterday (1) , because it was really boring (2) I (3) fell (4) asleep in class.

That does NOT work in German.
In German, it’s only ONE element.
This raises two questions and the first one is which elements we can put there.
And the answer is pretty simple: virtually all elements.
I mean, not all at once, of course. Just one at a time. But we can out virtually any element into the first position.
Take this sentence.

  • I have had a beer today.

On first sight, we have the three elements subject (I), direct object (a beer) and time (today).
And they all can technically go into position one.

  • Ichhabe heute ein Bier getrunken. (subject)

  • Heute habe ich ein Bier getrunken. (time)

  • Ein Bier habeich heute getrunken. (direct object)

     

The last one might already be kind of a surprise to you but it doesn’t stop there. By all elements I really mean all of them.
Also the leftover part of the verb can be in position one.

  • Getrunken habe ich heute ein Bier.

Yes, that is proper German and people say that. And technically, even a lonely prefix could be in position one.

  • Raus gehe ich nicht, Luke.
  • Outside I go not, Luke.

Proud Yoda would be.
Now, a sentence like the one above does sound a bit strange in German as well, and it only works in the right context.
Which brings us to the second big question we can ask about position one, which is “Why and when do native speakers put a certain element in position one.”
Or put more simply

“What happens if we put an element in position one?”

When you look around for an answer in online courses or textbooks you’ll often find something like this:

“Putting an element into position gives it emphasis.”

But that’s not quite what’s going on.
Take the following sentence:

  • Thomas has seen a unicorn.

By default, the focus is on unicorn, because that’s the news. But let’s suppose we want to put the focus on Thomas.
In writing, we could use all caps, for instance…

  • THOMAS has seen a unicorn.

… and if we were to read that, we’d probably use a louder voice for Thomas.
But what really creates the emphasis is not the all caps or the louder voice. It’s the fact that these are a deviation from the norm.
All caps can only create emphasis because they’re not the norm and saying “Thomas” with a loud voice ONLY creates emphasis because we usually wouldn’t say it that way.
You might have an inkling where I am going with this :).
It’s the exact same for structure.
Putting an element in position one CAN give it special emphasis, but ONLY if it usually ISN’T in position one.

  • Ich mache die Tür zu.
  • Zu mache ich die Tür.

The ich in the first one doesn’t get special emphasis because position one is a natural spot for it. The prefix zu of the separable verb zumachen (to close) on the other hand will get an incredible amount of emphasis… billions and billions of emphasis. So much emphasis, it almost sounds wrong. Because its natural spot is AT THE END, not at the beginning.

Now, all this of course raises the question of which elements would naturally come in the beginning.
The real answer to that is actually the key to German word order and it’s a little too big a topic for today, so we’ll talk about it in a separate series.
Want a quick teaser trailer?
Well…

“Think of a sentence as a movie scene.”

That’s all I’m gonna say for now ;).
For today, let’s use a quick dirty hack that’ll work for about 80% of everyday spoken sentences. The elements that sound very natural early on and hence in position one are the who-box (subject)..

  • Ich habe gestern Pasta gegessen.
  • I ate pasta yesterday.

the when-box ( time information)

  • Gestern habe ich Pasta gegessen.
  • Yesterday, I ate pasta.

and all referential elements that directly tie the sentence to what has come before, be it a word like there or a phrase like for that reason….

  • Das ist mein Lieblingsrestaurant. Dort habe ich gestern Pasta gegessen.
  • That’s my favorite restaurant. I ate pasta there, yesterday.
  • Ich hatte Hunger. Deshalb habe ich eine Pizza gegessen.
  • I was hungry. That’s why I ate a pizza.

Actually, if there is such a “connector” it’s most natural to start with that. Especially if you’re telling a story, it just makes for a nice narrative flow.

  • Gestern bin ich mit Maria ins Kino gegangen.
    Dort haben wir einen Film geguckt.
    Danach hatte Maria Hunger.
    Deshalb sind wir ins Restaurant gegeangen.
    Ich habe Pizza gegessen und Maria hatte Fledermaussuppe.
    Der Rest ist 2020.
  • Yesterday, I went to the cinema with Maria.
    We watched a movie there.
    After that, Maria was hungry.
    That’s why we went to a restaurant.
    I ate pizza and Maria had bat soup.
    The rest is 2020.

Oh…uh… that example took a weird turn.
But anyway, subject, time and references… that’s a good rule of thumb for what naturally goes into position one without creating any special focus.

Now, besides creating (or not creating) emphasis, there’s another reason why something might be put into position one. It’s not that important in daily speech, but it definitely matters when you start writing, so I want to mention it real quick.
And that reason is balance.
We’ve learned in the first part, that an element like for instance time information can be just one word like “today”, but it can also be a full side sentence.

  • Weil mein Chef krank ist, muss ich diese Woche mehr arbeiten, obwohl ich gar keinen Job habe.
  • Because my boss is sick, I have to work more this week although I don’t have a job.

That makes no sense, but many things don’t this year, so let’s just ride with it. What matters is the structure. We have a why-box in the beginning and a “despite what”-box at the end, each containg a full side sentence.
And by putting one in the beginning, we get a nicely balanced structure:

[Weil__________,] muss———(main sentence)————-,[ ________habe].

The alternatives would be to either splice the weil-box in between or add it at the end.

———, [weil_______ ], ———, [_______ ]. // —————-, [ ________ ] , [ ________ ] .

And neither is a nice balance.
As I said… this is more relevant for written German, but still I wanted to mention it.
Cool.
So now that we know about the beginning of a sentence, let’s pack up and move all the way to the other side.
But first, it’s time for you to get active and recap with a little quiz

And now, let’s take a look at the end of a sentence.

The Tao of End

And of course that means that we’ll talk about Vate™ – Verb at the End. One of German’s most famous features besides Der,Die,Das™ and Die Fälle™.
And I’m sure most of you are already fairly familiar with Vate™. In the Essentials-module of this course, we’ve actually started dealing with Vate™ pretty much from the second or third lecture because it’s just such an integral part of the language.
If the verb has just one part, it goes into the second position. But as soon as we have two parts the part that carries the ending goes into slot 2, and the rest goes to the end.
And that can be a prefix

  • Ich mache das Licht aus. (prefix)
  • I turn the light off.

or a second verb...

  • Ich will heute abend in die Sauna gehen.
  • I want to go to sauna this evening.

or a ge-form

  • Thomas hat gestern bis um 12 geschlafen.
  • Thomas slept till 12 yesterday.

or the Z-Beta-3- Goethe-Gödel Configuration that we talked about last time. You probably don’t remember it though… the grammar of that is quite traumatizing, and most brains repress it.
Here’s an ex… uh… I… uhm… wait, what were we talking about?
Oh yeah, verb at the end.
I don’t actually want to spend much time with practical examples today because you’ll see Vate pretty much all the time anyway and if you’ve followed the course, then you should be at least past the first two stages of grief – denial (“What kind of crap is that. It can’t be.”) and panic (“OMG, I can’t do that!!“).
And I also don’t want to talk about the big question of WHY German does that.
There actually IS an answer to that, but we’ll save that for the final part of this series. Because … you know… tension.
Today, I’d rather talk about a few things that sooner or later come up as questions and that we could call exceptions… if there weren’t so many of them.

Verb is last – Except when it’s NOT

Yes, you read that right. There are actually plenty of instances where the verb doesn’t “go to the end”.
The first one is side sentences.
Content-wise, a side sentence is just a piece of information for the story of the main sentence, one box that answers a specific question.
The side sentence “when my alarm rings” has the exact same function as the words “at 9” – it tells us when I get up.

  • [Wenn der Wecker klingelt], wache ich auf.
    When the alarm rings, I wake up.
  • [Um neun] wache ich auf.
    At nine, I wake up.

Structurally, however, a box with a side sentence is a bit different than a box with just a word.
Let’s take the same example and start with ich this time.

  • Ich wache [um 9] auf…. GOOD!
  • Ich wache auf [um 9].… WRONG!

This is in line with what we’ve learned.
But for the version with a side sentence, it’s different.

  • Ich wache, [wenn der Wecker klingelt], auf. .. okay
  • Ich wache auf, [wenn der Wecker klingelt]… okay

Here, BOTH versions are grammatically correct and the second one is probably a bit better. And the reason is… simplicity.
Yes, I just said German does something because of simplicity.
Here’s the structure of the examples we just had:

  • ————-, __________ ,–.
  • ——————–, ________.

The second version is clearly simpler and even though the sentence is quite short, the dangling prefix right after the verb “klingelt” of the side sentence makes the brain work a little harder.
Here’s a longer example:

  • Thomas hasn’t talked with Maria for three days, because she laughed at his new hair.
  1. Thomas hat seit drei Tagen nicht mit Maria geredet, [weil sie über seine neue Frisur gelacht hat].
  2. Thomas hat,[weil sie über seine neue Frisur gelacht hat], seit drei Tagen nicht mit Maria geredet.

and as structures…

  1. —————-, _________ .
  2. —-, _________ , ———–.

Again, BOTH versions are correct. And a hundred years ago, writers would probably have preferred the second one, because making sentences as complicated as possible was fashionable back then. But not anymore. The current fashion is to “compartmentalize” and put more and more stuff after the verb at the end.
Side sentences are the most obvious choice because they’re complex units and they themselves have a verb at the end, so the overall construct still has a verb at the end. I mean… German LOVES that stuff, make no mistake. Verb final for life, bro.

  1. Ich habe eine Suppe gegessen, weil ich Hunger hatte.
  2. Ich habe, weil ich Hunger hatte, eine Suppe gegessen.

But it doesn’t stop there. Also constructions with zu or um zu are often put after the final verb.

  • I tried to call you three times.
  1. Ich habe drei mal versucht, dich anzurufen…. GREAT
  2. Ich habe drei mal dich anzurufen versucht.… Meeeehhhhh
  • Thomas opens the fridge to take a beer for himself.
  1. Thomas macht den Kühlschrank auf, um sich ein Bier zu nehmen…. YUP
  2. Thomas macht, um sich ein Bier zu nehmen, den Kühlschrank auf…. NOPE

The second version of either example is not really wrong… but they sound overly complicated and no one really talks or writes that way.
And while these zu-constructs still have their own verb, it still doesn’t stop there.
Because also comparisons can be put after the final verb.

  • Thomas sieht mit seiner neuen Frisur aus, wie Billie Eilish.

    Thomas sieht mit seiner neuen Frisur wie Billie Eilish aus.

  • Thomas looks like Billie Eilish with his new hair.
  • Ich habe hier mehr gelernt als im Deutschkurs.

    Ich habe hier mehr als im Deutschkurs gelernt.

  • I learned more here than in German class.

In these examples, both versions are equally idiomatic and common but the longer the comparison-part gets, the better it is after the verb.
For more details on that, you can check out the article on comparisons.
But yeah… side sentences, zu-constructions and comparisons … all those can commonly come after the final verb. And these cases are so common, that it would be weird to call them exceptions.

So I think we need to say it as it is… this whole Vate™-thing isn’t quite as universal as it sounds in beginner courses and learning material; including my own, by the way. I think it makes sense to present the simplified rule in the beginning, because mentioning all these “exceptions” would be overwhelming and also because the Vate™ is an expression of a fundamental feature of German that we need to get used to.
But I also think it’s important to tell learners early on, that it’s not that fixed.
And just to make sure… that’s NOT just colloquial German. This does apply to written German as well.

In spoken German, this goes much further, actually, because there, people also put prepositional phrases after the final verb, and sometimes even usually well integrated elements like time.

  • Maria hat sich gefreut auf den Film.
  • Maria was excited for the movie.
  • Ich habe mit Maria gesprochen gestern…
  • I talked to Maria yesterday….

Sentences like these are quite common in spoken German, and at least for me I can say… it’s not even just a glitch. Like, sometimes it just happens because my brain was too slow and decided to have an afterthought. But at other times I legit prefer this flow.
But if you now go like “Yeah, I’m totally gonna do that.” let me tell you… nope. Because first of all, if you do this and you have an accent, people might assume you made a mistake and correct you rather than applaud you for being super native…. yeah, not fair, I know.
And also, like with any street language, there are dos and dont’s, written by “what sounds right.”
To take the example again…

  • Ich habe mit Maria gesprochen gestern.
  • Ich habe gestern gesprochen mit Maria.

No native speaker would ever say the second version, unless they’re REALLY confused.
It’s actually virtually impossible for you to know which element might work in the bonus field, because it depends on the context. So… if you hear people do something like this, then don’t get confused.
But for your active speaking, stick to the three types of elements for which it’s universally custom:

  1. side sentences
  2. zu-constructions
  3. comparisons

And that’s also what we’ll practice in the second exercise for this lecture.
But first let me wrap this up, because we’re actually done for the day.
This was our look at the first and the last position in a main sentence. Next time, in the grand finale, we’ll finally talk about side sentence, and the big reveal that I keep hinting at.
For now, if you have any questions about what we’ve learned so far, just leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to clear it up.
I hope you had fun today, have a great week and enjoy the exercise and I’ll see you next time.

further reading:

 

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jasoncdoss
jasoncdoss
3 months ago

I’m having trouble finding part 3. Can you link to it here? Thanks, and great articles all!

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 months ago

ich bin vierzehn jahre alt

Subhanya
Subhanya
11 months ago

This article is super cool and when I was rating a 5 I touched my phone twice and it made the rating 4.8 .But the true is it should be a tolle 5!! Vielen dank!!

wgmilner
wgmilner
1 year ago

Hi again, came here from the vor/bevor article; still a bit lost with zu-constructions. From that article we had: “Ich will einen Espresso trinken, bevor ich wieder anfange zu arbeiten.” So, it’s clear we have a nebensatz, the bevor pushes anfange towards the end, but the ‘zu arbeiten’ gets pushed right past it. But this sounds right to me too: Ich muss reicher werden, bevor sie etwas interesanter zu tun hat.” And “hat zu tun” at the end sounds wrong, so the “push it to the end preference seems swapped around. Any ideas? Many thanks.

Luis P
Luis P
1 year ago

Hi, great explanations! Thanks for the time you take to teach other people ;)

On the section of:

  • Ich habe mit Maria gesprochen gestern.
  • Ich habe gestern gesprochen mit Maria.

Wouldn’t it be better to write: “Ich habe gestern mit Maria gesprochen”?

Thanks!
Luis

Guillermo
Guillermo
1 year ago

I was comfortably sitting on the belief that the infinitive verb phrases in German were built in some order that I don’t have the words to describe, but that is the opposite of English (and some Roman languages too). to-want(1) to-go(2) running(3) = laufen(3) gehen(2) wollen(1) to-may(1) be(2) taken(3) = besitzt(3) werden(2) dürfen(1) The whole phrase is conjugated by conjugating the verb with number 1 above, and comes, as expected, in position 2 in main sentences and at the end in side sentences. Ich laufe(1) heute. Ich gehe(1) heute [ laufen(2) ]. Ich will(1) heute [ laufen(3) gehen(2) ]. Ich habe gesagt, dass ich heute [ laufen(3) gehen(2) ] will(1). Jemand besitzt(1) jetzt den Stuhl. Der Stuhl wird(1) jetzt [ besitzt(2) ]. Der Stuhl darf(1) jetzt [ besitzt(3) werden(2) ]. Ich habe gesagt, dass jetzt der Stuhl [ besitzt(3) werden(2) ] darf(1). I even had a boost of confidence once I found such a case in a novel (translated in 1984). Sie half denen, die im Schatten lebten, die tagsüber im Stadtbetrieb untertauchten, die aber bei Einbruch der Nacht versteckt(3) werden(2) mußten(1), jedesmal an einem anderen Ort. Until I came across the following examples. All three are in side sentences, where I expected the conjugated verb at the end. The full verb phrase is indeed at the end, but the conjugated verb is first in the phrase and not last. I expected 3-2-1 and found 1-3-2. Ich dachte nicht, daß ich so lange leben würde, wie ich gelebt habe, und daß sie so lange auf mich würden(1) warten(3) müssen(2). In den Geschäften wurden nach und nach wieder Dinge verkauft, die nicht einmal dem Namen nach bekannt waren, und andere, die sich nur die Reichen auf Schmuggelwegen hatten(1) beschaffen(3) können(2). Jaime stieg in sein Auto, froh, daß er seines Berufes wegen auf eine wöchentliche Zuteilung Benzin Anrecht hatte, weil er andernfalls mit dem Fahrrad in die Innenstadt hätte(1) fahren(3) müssen(2). Now, in the first example (Sie half denen…), the “core” verb (I don’t know how to call it) has an auxiliary and the modal verb is only one word. versteckt werden mußten core-verb-partizip(3) core-verb-auxiliary(2) single-word-modal(1) And in the other three, the core verb is the active voice infinitive (so one word), the modal verb has an auxiliary, and it’s that auxiliary the one in the unexpected position. würden warten müssen hatten beschaffen können hätte fahren müssen modal-auxiliary(1) core-verb-infinitive(3) modal-infinitive(2) I didn’t find an example, but doch wonder how that would be with both the core and modal verb in compound forms. Would it happen there too? Is the following translation correct? I said that the car would-have(1) had-to(2) be(3) repaired(4) at some point. Ich habe gesagt, dass das Auto irgendwann hätte(1) genommen(4) werden(3) müssen(2). So, “if the modal has an auxiliary, then this auxiliary goes first” is like… too arbitrary for me. There has to be something behind. Do you know what it is? Thanks for reading such a long message and no rush at all for an answer that may be long. Happy to wait… Read more »

Guillermo
Guillermo
1 year ago
Reply to  Guillermo

Oh man! I swear this time I searched for it before commenting. I just didn’t notice these were all conditionals and therefore I didn’t come across the Conditional Saga I’m binging on right now. The answer is probably there, so feel free to not answer here, and thanks for your patience!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

And if it’s any comfort, I definitely hear native speakers make mistakes with this word order when they’re speaking on the fly – you won’t hear “geben gewollt habe,” but you might hear an accidental “geben wollen habe.”

Guillermo
Guillermo
1 year ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Ha! Noticing natives make a mistake is a foreigners’ secret pleasure. :)

Thank you both for your answers!

JOSE PEREZ (Montréal)
JOSE PEREZ (Montréal)
1 year ago

Hi Emanuel,
In the beginning of the Tao of End section, I noticed your translation of “Ich mache das Licht aus” was “I turn the light on” … shouldn’t that be “I turn the light off “?

… this is great website, love your explanations !!!

José
José
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yeah, it is a lovely place, although not so much these days, but we will survive. Cheerio.

Zuckerbaby
Zuckerbaby
1 year ago

Wie vorher gesagt habe ich Deutsch von zuhören und sprechen gelernt. (Hamburg, 1955-57). D.h. alles war zusammengeklappt: Wortschatz, der/die/das, Struktur, und – meiner Meinung nach – das Wichtigste: Aussprache. Für mich ist die Frage immer noch: wie klingt es? Deine Erklärungen und Beispiele sind erste Klasse. Nur eins, wegen Englisch: einmal schreibst du “different to,” und das ist die englische Mode. Später kommt “different than,” und das ist schlecht amerikanisch. Es darf different from sein.
“Zu habe ich die Tür gemacht” sagt mir: Pass auf, du dummer Esel! AUF habe ich die Tür nicht gemacht sondern ZU.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Also “different to” gibt’s im AE überhaupt nicht. “Different from” habe ich als “korrekt” gelernt aber “different than” ist für viele Leute idiomatisch. Mit “from” braucht man eigentlich ein Substantiv oder einen substantivierten Satz. Von daher wäre für mich folgendes richtig:

  • That was different from what he said.
  • A Münchner Helles is really different from a north German Pilsener.

Wobei “This was different than last time” für mich schon ganz okay klingt, weil eigentlich korrekt wäre:

  • This was different than it was last time.

Mit from würde der Satz auch richtig klingen so, wie er ist, oder ergänzt:

  • This was different from how it was last time.

Also in dem Satz passt beides, je nachdem, welche Worte “ausgelassen” sind. ABER: Sehr viele (zumindest amerikanische) Muttersprachler würden quasi immer than verwenden (“A Helles is different than a Pils”).

Otavio
Otavio
1 year ago

Hello, I’m here just to tell people how great Emanual is, because I told him I didn’t have the money to pay for the course and he just signed me up for free for one whole year :) so if you’re not signed up yet and are wondering if he’s really gonna help you if you need it, I guarantee you he is

Guillermo
Guillermo
1 year ago

I hear this a lot, at least in speech:

Ich habe ES mir angewöhnt, jeden Morgen eine Runde laufen zu gehen.

I see this pronoun serving two purposes. First, it gives the verb an object at its official place, so that the main sentence is rounded up by the time the verb arrives and nothing has to be unstacked and stacked again. Second, as a placeholder without a back reference, it cues the listener that more information comes next. The syntax is still questionable, because now there’s two objects, but it sounds friendlier to my brain.

There is a figure of speech like this called Cataphora. Looks like a literary tool made it in to solve a grammar difficulty.

Guillermo
Guillermo
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Oh! “The emptiest pronoun possible” :). Yet so rich to write an article about.

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve enjoyed es and learned even more.

Let me point out that the search function doesn’t bring any results when looking for “es” alone. I had to search for “es pronoun” and scroll a bit. Not so big a deal, but other articles on short or stop words may be harder to find. Coincidentally, these tend to be juicy words to squeeze and you may have articles on many of them.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
1 year ago
Reply to  Guillermo

Adding a link for anyone else who’s curious like me. If you go under Vocabulary > By Date, you can see a list of all the articles. It can be a fun way to poke around when you’re not sure what to read :)

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
1 year ago

Ich habe mit Maria gesprochen gestern.

Ich habe gestern gesprochen mit Maria.

This was really interesting because I’ve just been starting to notice that stuff like this (first example) happens pretty often. Like in unscripted podcasts and late night talk shows (some of them like SWR Nachtcafe can be pretty interesting).

I was trying to think of similar examples in English, like maybe:

I gave it to Maria yesterday, the stuffed unicorn.
I gave the stuffed unicorn yesterday….to her? to Maria?

The first one is something I could easily picture myself saying. With the second one, it hurts to try to finish the sentence because “gave” really wants to come with the information about who the thing was given to. I might have said stuff like this on days when I couldn’t word good, but the thought just feels too incomplete.

With the examples in the article, it’s kind of funny because time seems like it’s normally important information, but “ich habe mit Maria gesprochen” seems like a complete thought and “ich habe gestern gesprochen” doesn’t.

As far as TV shows, some of the new-ish ones I’m watching:

Succession (fun and well done, pulled me in more than I expected)
Rita (a little darker, but I’m a sucker for characters who march to their own drum)
The Americans (good if you like politically-tinged stuff)
Haus des Geldes (just started, but definitely planning on finishing)

billyd
billyd
1 year ago

This article like all of your articles are extremely informative and very amusing. I actually think I am getting the idea of German sentence structure and am liking it (which is really strange). I had a good laugh at the Fliedermaussuppe by the way. We need as much levity as possible in 2020.

Kerry
Kerry
1 year ago

I have two ideas for future topics.

  1. Inseparable verbs that look like they should be separable… (überfallen, unterschreiben…)
  2. Nationalities and their corresponding adjectives. Aaargh!
Elsa
Elsa
1 year ago

Hello,

Typos first:
“mid season episodes” (midseason episodes)
“verb in German main sentence” (verb in a German main sentence)
“big question we can aks” (big question we can ask)
“its natural spot it AT THE END” (its natural spot is AT THE END)
“raises the question which elements” (raises the question of which elements)
start with that,. Especially, if” (two commas too many… boy, Germans do love their commas lol)
“about the big question WHY German does that” (about the big question of WHY German does that)
“BOTH version are grammatically correct” (BOTH versions are grammatically correct)
“more an more stuff” (more and more stuff)
“The second versions of either example is not really wrong” (The second version (no s) of either example is not really wrong)
“beginner’s courses” (beginner courses or beginners’ courses, although I’d prefer the first option because of… sounds better, although the second version may actually be more grammatically correct, I’m not even sure!)

And that’s all I have time for at the moment, (ich habe es eilig) and NO, I don’t wanna hear that I shouldn’t do that, yadda yadda… because this article is VERY interesting, at least to me, and I’ll definitely come back to it later… now I gotta dash, I need to be somewhere else soon (and no, it’s not a nice place, sondern ein langweliger Ort!)

Bis bald!

TonyM
TonyM
1 year ago

Excellent and very helpful, as usual. I haven’t been following your posts for a while, and this was my first time taking the quizzes They are extremely well down in terms of being challenging and yet not too challenging. Although I got them all right I was quite uncertain before answering several.

Regarding the technical issue with the quizzes, I am seeing blank buttons using Safari on an up-to-date iPhone.

Also, I am including typos that I found, hopefully to be helpful. First I show the original, then my corrections are at the end (with the third one, I wasn’t so sure how to correct it).

Because its natural spot it AT THE END

And that is reason is balance.

We’ve learned in the first part, that an element like for instance time information can be just one word like today, but it can also be a full side sentence.

Which elements are natural cnadidates for position one?

and put more an more stuff after the verb at the end.

I tried to call you three time


Because its natural spot is AT THE END

And that reason is balance.

We’ve learned in the first part that an element (like, for instance, time information) can be just one word (like, today), but it can also be a full side sentence.

Which elements are natural candidates for position one?

and put more and more stuff after the verb at the end.

I tried to call you three times

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
1 year ago

Maria hat sich gefreut auf den Film.
I think the translation here would be Maria is looking forward to the film.
She could also have been excited by the film – which would imply she has already seen it.
Had she been excited before the film, she almost certainly was disappointed.
A very useful exercise – thank you – I’m now going to read it again, over my bat soup.

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Looking forward to, is perfect personal everyday speech. Being ‘excited for’ falls into your Meeeuuuhhh category. Nobody would ever say it.
Ich freue mich sehr auf dein Teil 3.
Ich kann es kaum erwarten, denn habe ich hier mehr als im Deutschkurs gelernt!

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
1 year ago

PS Quizes worked beautifully – and I got hem all right.
Whoopee

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
1 year ago

Ooops, I think I should have written – denn ich habe hier mehr …
And them, not hem. Hem slipped out of my grip and away before I could correct it.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
1 year ago

Really? “Excited for” is really common where I am (U.S.) and I’ve always seen it as normal. It probably does skew younger though.

I’ve gotten the sense that “sich freuen” can have slightly different meanings depending on the context. “Ich freue mich auf unsere Zusammenarbeit” seems like “look forward to.” (Is this right, or is it more than that?)

But with “Maria hat sich gefreut auf den Film,” I would say that’s a little dry and “excited” is a better fit. If I’m understanding the original correctly, “really looking forward to” has pretty much the right feel, but I don’t think it fits so well grammar-wise.

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
1 year ago
Reply to  coleussanctus

How interesting. Def never – excited for – here though excited about would be okay. Our languages diverge.
Some of my books just got an American cover and a few spelling alterations. Later they would be totally ‘translated’.
Thank you for drawing my attention to a usage new to me – though obviously not to Emanuel.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago

I (AE) wouldn’t find “excited for” unidiomatic as a synonym for “looking forward to [with excitement]” either, although like you, “excited about” would be more the default. That doesn’t carry the “looking forward” connotation, though. I’d tend to use “excited for” with “somebody,” in the same sense that one can be “happy for” someone.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

You are making the highly questionable assumption that I have any idea anymore how 25-year-olds talk XD

I could see “excited for the film” for sure. Or some idiom like “can’t wait for the film”? I’m going to guess wildly that nobody is “psyched” or “pumped” for movies anymore…

mokcyn
mokcyn
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Love the lesson BTW! Yes, ‘looking forward to’ is a bit stiff but if one adds ‘really looking forward to’ it would be the same as ‘excited’ about/over etc. I do use ‘looking forward to’ in my daily vernacular.

As for winter binges, I recommend Netflix “Crash Landing On You”. I don’t generally care for romantic/drama/comedies. However this one is top of the line and well worth it. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Go Captain Ri!!

Osama K. Tuma
Osama K. Tuma
1 year ago

As always, a very clear, really funny, well structured explanation of something that usually gives language learners a brain hernia, thanks a lot Emanuel.

Love the quizzes.

Melissa
Melissa
1 year ago

I’ve been speaking German for over 20 years and this is the BEST explanation for these little bits of information after the 2nd verb. I just assumed it’s how people spoke and started to mimic the syntax in my discussions with coworkers or in emails. But I never really understood when and where it was okay to use this. This makes a lot of sense. As usual – Emmanuel to the rescue with COMMON SENSE GERMAN!