German Main Clauses

Die Futurzeiten im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

German Main Clauses – Summary

Zusammenfassung

Sätze bestehen aus einer Folge von Wörtern. Bestimmte Wörter werden zu Gruppen zusammengefasst, die unterschiedliche grammatische Funktionen haben. Das sind dann die Satzglieder. Jeder Satz besteht grundsätzlich aus zwei Teilen: dem Subjekt und dem Prädikat (P).

Der Satz “Der Hund läuft schnell auf der Rennbahn.” beschreibt eine reale Handlung in der Welt. Nach dem Subjekt kann mit “Wer handelt ?” gefragt werden, nach dem Prädikat mit “Was geschieht ?”.

  • Beispiel: “Der große Hund läuft schnell auf der Rennbahn.

Das Subjekt (S) besteht aus dem Hauptwort (Nomen, N) “Hund”, dem Artikel (A) “der” und dem beigefügten Adjektiv (Adj) “große”. Das Prädikat (P) besteht aus dem Zeitwort (Verb, V) “laufen” in seiner konjugierten Form “läuft”. Ein zusätzliches Satzglied ist das Objekt (OA) im Akkusativ “Rennbahn” mit Artikel (A) “der” und Präposition (Pp) “auf”. Das letzte Satzglied ist das Adverb (Adv) “schnell”.

Die Aufspaltung eines Satzes in seine Glieder schrittweise erfolgen und in einem Diagramm dargestellt werden.

  • Der große Hund läuft schnell auf der Rennbahn.
    (A) – (Adj) – (N) – (V) – (Adv) – (Pp) – (A) – (N) – (OA)

Welcome to language-easy.org! Well, as you have clicked on this article, I suppose that you are ready to enter to depths of German sentence structures. So, as a fist and really important sentence type, we will talk about German main clauses in this article. Of course, many of you are familiar with this type of sentence, as it also exists in the English language. Hence, at least its usage should be known to English speakers.

In the following, I’d like to define what a German main clause actually is. After that, we will talk about the word order in this type of sentence and name some basic rules. Finally, I’d like to give you some advice, especially for advances German learners this could be useful.

By the way, in case you’d like to have some additional information and gain some background knowledge about German main clauses, just have a look at this article on Wikipedia. It will provide you with all the information you need.

And now, let’s not lose too much time and come straight to the first topic of this article, a short definition of German main clauses, their correct usage and the basic rules of word order in these sentences.

Los geht’s!

German Main Clauses and Basic Word Order

Hauptsätze und Satzbau im Deutschen

Well, first of all we should clear up what German main clauses actually are. So, in the following, I’d like to give you a short definition of this term.

German main clauses, also called independent clauses or declarative sentences, are clauses that stand alone as a complete sentence. At least, they contain a subject, verb and an object and express and complete thought.

So, after clearing up what a German main clause actually is, let’s go to the next point and talk about the details of the basic word order in this type of sentences.

Luckily, the German main clause is quite similar to the declarative sentences in the English language. As a consequence, you can apply the exact same rules for the basic word order:

  • Subject – Verb – Object

Nevertheless, there are some differences, due to the fact that there are the four cases of the German language. So, this allows us to see if a noun or a pronoun is used as a subject or object. Due to this, we can adapt the word order of a German main clause to put the focus on different things. Now, let’s go into some detail about the basic rules of word order in German main clauses.

Basic Rules of German Word Order

So, in this section I’d like to present you the basic rules of German word order. Well, some rules might sound familiar to you as they a similar in English, others differ a lot.

  1. First, keep in mind that the finite verb is always in the second position of a sentence.
  2. Second, infinite verb forms like infinitives or past participles are placed at the end.
  3. Third, the subject is often at the beginning of the sentence. But, other elements like the object, the place or the time can also be in this position. In this case, the subject comes after the finite verb.

Please, keep in mind that in case the direct object is a pronoun, it comes before the indirect object.

Advice for Advanced Learners

Ratschläge für Fortgeschrittene

Of course, there are also a bunch of rules also and possible word order that can not really be considered being “basic”. In the following, I’d like to present some of them. Please, note that that part of this article about German main clauses is more for advanced German learners as a higher level of German is needed to understand it.

Old Before New

So, something that is already known or is assumed to be known, is placed closer to the beginning of a sentence. Often, unknown or new information is placed at the end of the main clause.

Because of that, in case the direct object is a pronoun, it comes before the indirect object. Well, in general, pronouns replace noun that have already been mentioned.

  • “Philip hat es (das Fahrrad) ihm (dem Freund) gestern zurückgegeben.”

Furthermore, if the direct object is combined with an indefinite article, it always comes after the time and place. So, keep in mind that you have to use the indefinite article to mention something for the first time.

  • “Philip hat seinem Freund gestern ein neues Fahrrad geschenkt.”

Now, let’s come to the next rather advanced rule of word order in German main clauses, about the relationship between sentences.

The Relationship between Clauses

Well, you should always consider that in German written texts you connect the sentences. Of course, it depends on their content. Here, we can put the connective element at the first position of the sentence.

  • “Philip war gestern auf einer Party. Sie war sehr lustig.”

Emphasis at the End of the Sentence

Here, the indirect object, the time and place are interchangeable. So, in order to emphasize one on these elements, just put it after the direct obejct.

  • Auf der Party hat Philip gestern ein Mädchen kennengelernt.”
  • “Philip hat ein Mädchen gestern auf der Party kennengelernt.”

Well, finally we have reached the end of this section about the advanced rules of word order in German main clauses. So, as I have already mentioned, to know these rules is optional. Nevertheless, they can be really useful in case to want to give to ultimate polish to your German.

German Main Clauses

Exercises

Übungen

Finally, we have reached the last part of this article where you can prove the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and… auf Wiedersehen!

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