Sentence Structure │ German Grammar

This set of lessons will help you use your knowledge of nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech to form full sentences.

German is more flexible than other languages in terms of how that's done. However, you do have to follow certain rules about word order, especially where you put verbs.

Lessons about Forming Sentences

Main Clauses

Satzbau - Hauptsatz

Main clauses are full sentences that could stand alone. They almost always include a subject and verb, but can include a lot more information as well. Important to remember is that the main verb goes in position 2.

Example: „Anna kauft einen Hut."

Difference Between Main Clauses and Subordinate Clauses

Satzbau Unterschied HS vs NS

Main clauses are complete sentences on their own, but subordinate clauses are not. They always need to be combined with a main clause to make sense.

Example: „Anna kauft das Kleid (main clause), das ihrem Mann gefällt. (subordinate clause)“

Sentence Brackets

Satzklammer

Some verbs have a separable prefix or are used in combination with a second verb. The conjugated verb stays in position 2 but the prefix or second verb goes at the end of the sentence. In a certain sense (use your imagination!) this creates brackets that contain all of the other information ⇒ Sentence Brackets.

Examples: „Ich stehe um 6 Uhr auf.“

Forming Questions

Satzbau - Fragen

In German there are W-Questions and Yes-No Questions. Lucky for you, it's similar to how questions are formed in English.

Examples:

  • Woher kommst du?“ – „Ich komme aus Deutschland.“
  • „Kommst du aus Deutschland?“ – „Ja/Nein.“

Negation

Verneinung

In German there are three main ways to negate something:

  1. Nein: "Willst du ein Eis?" ; "Nein!"
  2. Kein: "Ich möchte kein Eis!"
  3. Nicht: "Ich mag Eis nicht!"

Conjunctions

Konjunktionen

Conjunctions are words that join things together. For example: words, clauses, and sentences.

Examples:

  • "Tanja und Boris sehen fern."
  • "Fahren wir zu Oma oder bleiben wir zu Hause?"

Conjunctive Adverbs

Konjunktionaladverbien

Conjunctive adverbs are similar to conjunctions in that they both combine things together. However, there are some differences in how they look and are used.

Example: „Anna kommt später, außerdem kommt Jan auch später.“

Subordinate Clauses

Nebensatz

Subordinate clauses are parts of a sentence that give extra information to the main clause.

They can't stand alone and are connected to the main clause with conjunctions or relative pronouns.

In subordinate clauses, the verb goes at the end.

Example: "Es wird kalt, wenn ich das Fenster aufmache."

Infinitive Clauses

Infinitivsätze (Infinitiv mit zu)

In infinitive clauses, the verb isn't conjugated. Instead, it stays in the infinitive form (ending in "-en"). Infinitive clauses also don't have their own subject - they use the subject from the main clause.

Example: "Ich versuche, das Tor zu treffen."

Infinitive Constructions

Infinitivkonstruktionen

Infinitive constructions are clauses with "um…zu…," "ohne…zu…," or "(an)statt…zu…" There is no subject, and the verb stays in the infinitive form.

Example: "Ich lerne Deutsch, um in Deutschland arbeiten zu können."