Word order

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Word order

Post  kosovohp on Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:36 am

Word order is generally less rigid than in Modern English. There are two common word orders: one is for main clauses and another for subordinate clauses. In normal affirmative sentences the inflected verb always has position 2. In polar questions, exclamations and wishes it always has position 1. In subordinate clauses the verb is supposed to occur at the very end, but in speech this rule is often disregarded.

German requires that a verbal element (main verb or auxiliary verb) appear second in the sentence. The verb is preceded by the topic of the sentence. The element in focus appears at the end of the sentence. For a sentence without an auxiliary this gives, amongst other options:

Der alte Mann gab mir gestern das Buch. (The old man gave me yesterday the book; normal order)
Das Buch gab mir gestern der alte Mann. (The book gave [to] me yesterday the old man)
Das Buch gab der alte Mann mir gestern. (The book gave the old man [to] me yesterday)

Gestern gab mir der alte Mann das Buch. (Yesterday gave [to] me the old man the book, normal order)
Mir gab der alte Mann das Buch gestern. ([To] me gave the old man the book yesterday (entailing: as for you, it was another date))

The position of a noun in a German sentence has no bearing on its being a subject, an object, or another argument. In a declarative sentence in English if the subject does not occur before the predicate the sentence could well be misunderstood. This is not the case in German.

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Re: Word order

Post  PrettyPenny on Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:42 am

English has to be the most confusing language on earth. It is my native tongue, and it still hurts my brain sometimes. I'm currently taking a English course in college, and even though I speak English fluently, I will barely pass my English course. How messed up is that?
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