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I'm working through an Assimil book, and I found this sentence:

Ich hoffe, er bleibt nicht lang.

Shouldn't it be

"Ich hoffe, bleibt er nicht lang."

?

I thought that, in a sub-clause, the verb and the subject were reversed.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your first example ("Ich hoffe, er bleibt nicht lang") is correct. But it may be even better to say:

Ich hoffe, daß er nicht lange bleibt.

As it stands, you connect two sentences, but this does not change the word order in the individual sentences. There is simply no rule that says it should.

Other examples:

Ich glaube er sieht mich.
Sie denkt er kommt.

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I think I was thinking about the case when the subject and verb switch places because of some additional info. in the sentence. e.g. Am Montag esse ich Katzen. Now I understand that this isn't the case with subclauses, where the verb goes to the end. Thanks! –  user4723 Dec 8 '13 at 18:04
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Interestingly,

Ich hoffe, bleibt er nicht lang

might with some bending and effort be understood as the semantically strange statement

Ich hoffe, sofern er nicht lang bleibt [I hope if he doesn't stay long]

(though this is (more) usual with the subclause before the main clause - so a less but still quite strange statement would be "Bleibt er nicht lang, [dann] hoffe ich") while

Ich hoffe, er bleibt nicht lang [I hope he doesn't stay long]

is the same as the more complete

Ich hoffe, dass er nicht lange bleibt [I hope that he doesn't stay long]

Also note that in three of these four examples, the subject is still (correctly) before the verb! The verb switches with the subject in questions, while you probably think of verb and object ("Er bleibt nicht lang." -> "er nicht lang bleibt" in subclause and "Bleibt er nicht lang?" in a question).

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very nice one. Took me a while to "see" it but then it is quite clear :) –  Emanuel Dec 8 '13 at 21:48
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There are two different kinds of subclauses relative to the main clause: coordinated subclauses and subordinated subclauses.

Coordinated subclauses keep the usual word order:

conjugated verb in second position, rest of the predicate at the end

Subordinated subclauses have another word order:

all verbs at the end with the conjugated verb in last position

The changed word order in subordinated subclauses might yield a reversion the order of subject and verb, but this can also be achieved in coordinated subclauses as the subject need not be in first position in German.

So the correct word order depends on the ordination form of the subclause.

The verb etwas hoffen can be realized in different ways concerning the object etwas:

  • a dass-clause: subordinated: Ich hoffe, dass er nicht lang *bleibt*.
  • a conjunctionfree subclause: coordinated: Ich hoffe, er *bleibt* nicht lang.
  • an infitinive construction with: no subclause: Ich hoffe, nicht lange zu bleiben. (Attention: change in meaning)

So the first sentence is correct. Your alternative has wrong word order.

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