Tag Archives: german word order

Advent Calendar 2 – “Work that order”

advent-2Hi everyone,

day 2 of our German advent calendar, and this time you need to get active with a nice session of WoW.
No, nerds… the other WoW. This one:

word order workout

Now you’re like “Waiiit, I thought we get surprises. Not work.” but hey … in every advent calendar there are some things you don’t like. Like brittle. Ewwww. I hate that stuff.
So put on your yoga pants and get ready for a quick

How does it work?

We’ve done this kind of exercise before but that’s already a while ago, so let me explain real quick. I’ll give you a few short sentences that are clearly connected by context and you have to join them together.
Let’s do an example in English: Continue reading

German Word Order – Beyond Rules

german-word-order-explanatiHello everyone,

and welcome to a new chapter in our absolutely epic German language course.

And this module will be all about one of the most confusing topics of German grammar.
Which could of course be pretty much any aspect of German grammar, but for today, it is going to be

German Word Order

And if you think of German as a language that is big about rules, you’ll be VERY surprised actually at what’s going on under the surface. Because word order is NOT about rules. It’s a delicate dance of different forces and in most cases, there is not THE ONE correct answer.

So here’s what we’ll do.
First we’ll take a look at the commonly known rules for word order and we’ll explain why they suck…what their shortcomings are. Then, we’ll have a look at what German word order is really about and then, we’ll finally zero in on one core idea. An idea that explains… everything**.
(Disclaimer: word dramatized! Idea may not actually explain literally everything. No refunds!)
So are you ready to dive in and find out? Great.

The Box Model – Analyzing German Sentence Structure

 

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Before you start reading… 


This post is more of about a general theory as well as the terminology I use to explain German structure
(word order, position of nicht and so on)
I really recommend reading this, but if you want to get to word-order right away…
there’s a mini-series about that. Here’s the link to part 1 :)

German Word Order Explained

***

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to the “readiest” German course of all time.
That’s right. While everyone is doing “short form content” (aka TikToks), I’m sticking with the deep dives here.
And today, it is time for the first part of the mini series series on German sentence structure.
Woohooooo!!

And to do the subject matter justice, I have decided to organize this mini series as a loosely connected compendium of impressionistic essays, poems, songs and one or two Haikus inspired by the topic.
“WHAT?! But we want rules, Emanuel! Give us RULES, BRO!!”
I understand where you’re coming from.
But can a rule help us understand the erratic path of a butterfly?
Can a rule ever completely capture and produce the beautiful sound of small stream as it purls over mossy rocks?
And aren’t there exceptions where there are rules just as there is fire where there’s smoke?
Now you’re like “What the hell am I reading.” and you’re about to leave, but my whole point is this – and that’s the first key learning of this series:

German sentence structure doesn’t really work based on RULES!

Don’t get me wrong.
It’s not like you can put anything anywhere in a German sentence. When it comes to verbs, there are some iron clad rules and in books and other sources you can find other rules too, like, say, indirect object – direct object or time-manner-place.
But what’s really really important is that you try to see them like Berlin pedestrians see traffic lights: non-binding advice.

German sentence structure and word order is a complex thing that needs a lot of gut feeling. We’ll learn some rules in this mini series, but the more important parts are general ideas or characteristics of German, that will help you determine which word can go where and why.
And to start this all off we will have a look at what I call:

The Box Model

The box model is a way of looking at language or a sentence in particular that helps you understand how those many many many many words are organized. It holds for many languages but for German it is particularly useful… so let’s dive right into it.

German Word Order – Part 2

Hello everyone,

and welcome to the second part of our look at the mess that seems to be

German Word Order

And before we get to it let’s do a super quick recap what we learned in part one. (find it here) we’ve learned three things.
Number one:
The rules you can usually find are … not very good. And how could they. Because number 2:
There are no rules. And there’s not one correct order. There’s a default order which is  the result of a fascinating interplay of several forces, pulling the elements in different directions. And the speaker has a lot of freedom to rearrange stuff for emphasis. Problem is that these interactions are  uber complex and dynamic. We cannot really “learn” that.  Which leads us directly to number three:
In linguistics there is the concept of a head of a phrase and we learned that German is at it’s soul a head-final language. You know… like its close relatives Korean and Japanese. They’re head final too.
Today, we’ll find out how this head-final-ness of German can help us explain everything. Well, not everything, but a lot. It’s going to be tough and I’m not saying that every sentence you’ll ever say will be correct. But at least things will make sense. Promise!

German Word Order – Part 3

Hello everyone,

and welcome to the third part of our mini series on

German Word Order

and if you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 yet, you really should do that because today’s post won’t make much sense without it. So here they are:

And no, there will be no recap. Our poles won’t get one either.
Wow, Worst Pun Ever Award, I’m coming.
Anyway, so last time was all about head final and the notion of important stuff coming very late. But it turned out that this couldn’t quite explain everything. Because it’s actually only half of the the truth. Today, we’ll look at the other half. So… are you ready to jump in once more, even if the water looks a little nerdy?
Awesome.