Sentence Structure Work Out 2

Written By: Emanuel Updated: April 4, 2020

sentence-structure-verb-undHello everyone,

and welcome to your little doze off German.. oh… I mean dose of German. Two weeks ago we did a little exercise for sentence structure and so we’ll do it again today. Yeaaaay. And if you’re now like “What… again? Can’t we rather do words or grammar?” then let me tell you to shut up. Oh… I meant: don’t worry. We won’t do work out all the time. I just want to do this one now because that’s how we roll. Haters gonna hate.
Seriously though, many of you enjoyed the sentence structure work out and I think we’ll make that into a regular thing here. Do a little session every once in a while, each time with a different focus and a bit of info around it. Topics like relative clauses, or danach or bevor or indirect speech or…  common mistakes. Which is what we’ll focus on today.
Many of you tried out examples in the comments last time and the great thing about that is that we can find common mistakes that way. And then we can talk about them, clear up the confusion and do some more examples. Give those muscles a little extra work out, if you will. So are you ready to step on the Structurator® and get sweaty? Great :). 
Oh, if you haven’t read the last episode you can do that here

but you don’t really have to. We’ll use examples here for everything.
All right. So last time, there were three mistakes in particular that many of you made and, surprise surprise, they all have to do with the position of the verb.

two common mistakes

The first one was pretty standard.

  • Weil sie hat ihr Tagebuch verloren
  • Obwohl Thomas ist immer pünktlich

The mistake here is not having the verb in the last position. Why should it be there? Because weil and obwohl are what I call intro words. They create a side sentence, one of these sentences in which the verb has to go to the end (in writing… speaking is another matter). So correct would be:

  • Weil sie ihr Tagebuch verloren hat
  • Obwohl Thomas immer pünktlich ist

Most of you probably know this or have heard this once already. It simply takes time to get used to it, especially when speaking. Can we train that somehow? Well, think of it as a matter of rhythm. Try this: say the intro word with a strong emphasis, then say blaaablaaablaa and then say a verb… or just verb.

  • WEIL blah blah blah blaaaaaaaaaaa HAT/VERB

That’s the flow of these things and maybe just doing it without real text can help getting a feel for it. But it definitely takes time so don’t beat yourself up if you do it wrong over and over. That’s normal. All right, moving on to the next one.

  • [Weil   … hat], sie ist traurig.
  • [Obwohl … ist], er kommt zu spät zum Meeting.

The mistake is to not having the verb right after the comma. Why should we? Well, because the verb has to come in position number 2 and the side sentence counts as one position just like a word like heute or ich would… if you want to read more about that check out my post on the box model here.
Correct would be:

  • Weil …. hat, ist [2] Maria traurig.
  • Obwohl … ist, kommt [2] er zu spät zum Meeting.

This is also a super common mistake and even people who can already speak fluently and hold conversation make this mistake. You really have to rewire your brain for that. And rhythm is no real help here because position 1 can be of any size basically. But I don’t think we need special work out for this since the issue is everywhere anyway… doing an exercise for specifically this would be kinda like… I don’t know… taking the elevator all day and then go to the gym to hop on the stepp… oh wait, people do that. Anyway, we’ll focus today’s work out on the third mistake many of you made last time… and that has to do with the word und.

word order after  “und”

There’s this sort of rule floating around in the learnosphere that und doesn’t make the verb go to the end. Not totally wrong. But it leads to sentences like this one:

  • Weil das Buch schlecht geschrieben ist und die Charaktere sind langweilig, hat es mir nicht gefallen.

We moved the ist because there’s a weil but then we saw und and we were like “Oh, no need to move stuff here”. But the sind has to be at the end of its part, so it has to come after langweilig. The things is… und doesn’t make the verb stay in position 2. Und doesn’t do ANYTHING with the verb. Und connects two parts that have the same function:

  • Ich trinke Wein und Bier.
  • Ich bin müde und ich habe Hunger.
  • Hast du Zeit und willst du was trinken?

In the first example, it connects two items, two objects. In the second one it connects two normal statements and in the third it connects two questions. And of course it can also connect two side sentences.

  • Ich trinke Bier, weil es lecker ist und [weil] ich Durst habe.

The second weil is skipped because nobody needs it so we just have und there but  the Durst-part is still a side sentence. The und doesn’t change that.
Now let’s look at the wrong example again:

  • Weil das Buch schlecht geschrieben ist und die Charaktere sind langweilig, hat es mir nicht gefallen.

By having the sind in position 2 (after Die Charaktere) you’re saying that it’s NOT connected to the weil-part because if it were, it would have the sentence structure of a weil-sentence. So it’s a top level sentence. Which in general is totally possible. But NOT here. Because there hasn’t been a top level sentence yet to connect it to. It’s a bit like saying the following in English (not a direct translation, I know) :

  • Because of the bad writing and the book has bad characters, I didn’t like it.

This is weird because the and doesn’t connect with anything. It cannot connect the two parts left and right.
So… the thing with und in more complex sentences is that you need to kind of know where you are. You need to know what parts you’re connecting with und. Are you connecting two side sentences? Like… two reasons or two conditional statements? Or are you jumping back to a main sentence after being in a side sentence. The rule is this:

 Und has NO effect on the position of the verb. 

If it’s on 2  it’ll stay there. If it’s on 1 it’ll stay there. And if it’s at the end it’ll stay there, even if you skip the intro word because you don’t want to be boring.
And now let’s put that to practice.

the exercise

The system is the same as last time (for a detailed description head over to this article)  I’ll give you a bunch of simple statements and you have to try to combine them into a coherent piece of text. Ideal would be one sentence but if you use two or three it’s okay, too. There’s not the ONE solution and what matters is that you get the message across.
And of course today, the examples all contain an und-moment, so keep in mind what we’ve talked about. And now puzzle ahead :)

** easy-ish **
Maria hat schlechte Laune.
Maria hat schlecht geschlafen.
Maria hat noch nichts gegessen.

Maria kauft sich ein Feierabendbier.
Maria setzt sich in den Park.
Maria hatte einen stressigen Tag.

** hard-ish **

Das Team hat das Projekt rechtzeitig fertig gemacht.
Das Team geht feiern.
Das Team war eigentlich weit hinter dem Zeitplan.
Der Kunde hatte noch eine Menge Last-Minute-Änderungswünsche.

Thomas hat sich über das vegane Kochbuch gefreut.
Maria hat Thomas das vegane Kochbuch zum Geburtstag geschenkt.
Thomas ist kein Veganer.
Thomas kocht eigentlich fast nie.

Maria schreibt eine schlechte Review über den Coffee Shop.
Der Coffee Shop hat vor einem Monat neu eröffnet.
Der Kaffee hat wie Früchtetee geschmeckt.
Man wollte ihr keine Milch geben.
Die Barista waren arrogant.

As usual, if you have any questions about these or about the whole und-thing let me know. And if you want you can post your solutions in the comments and we can talk about them. Really curious how you go about the last one :)I’m out for now. I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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