(a) Ich war gestern draußen, ging am Abend ins Kino.

(b) Gestern war ich draußen, ging am Abend ins Kino.

Is each of the two sentences correct?


The first parts of both sentences are alright and do not affect the following.

Joining sentences like this (no conjunction or repetition of subject) is grammatically correct, though very rare. It is usually used half-poetically to describe activities in a ”streaming” way without relating them too much to each other or emphasising the actual content. For example, in your sentences, you could use this sentence structure to express that yesterday was very relaxing and you did not do much or that yesterday was very boring (using a totally different voice).

Also, such a construction is used when more than two verbs are joined to describe a series of activities:

Gestern war ich draußen, ging im Park spazieren, aß in einem Restaurant, schaute mir einen Film im Kino an, ging nach Hause.

As already stated, it is much more common to use a conjunction before the last part in all of the above cases. So this is what I would strongly recommend to use when in doubt:

Gestern war ich draußen und ging am Abend ins Kino.
Gestern war ich draußen, ging im Park spazieren, aß in einem Restaurant, schaute mir einen Film im Kino an und ging nach Hause.

  • The serialization of activities is not implied. Consider the short dialogue 'Was hast du heute gemacht ?' - 'Ich hab gearbeitet, bin am Fluß spazierengegangen, war in der Stadt frühstücken und habe Anette angerufen' - any implied order of activities stem from pragmatic knowledge (i.e. to have breakfast usually precedes work, etc.). note that in the setting of a workday with breaks during which some of the other activities took place there is no complete serialization at all.
    – collapsar
    Feb 20 '14 at 13:23
  • 1
    @collapsar: Temporal serialsation is heavily implied: Unless you clearly state otherwise or it would be fully absurd, everybody will assume that events listed this way have happened in temporal order, even though it is not explicitly stated (which is exactly what implied means).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 20 '14 at 14:10
  • without contextual clues, few native speakers will assume temporal ordering. in your specific example, ordering doesn't even make sense, as 'draußen sein' comprises 'Spazierengehen im Park'. note that in my previous example, temporal ordering wouldn't render the sentence absurd - just think of somebody on the night shift.
    – collapsar
    Feb 20 '14 at 14:25

I'm not sure if I would call either "correct". I myself would never use either sentence as is. I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but joining events with a comma does work, if you have a true list (more than a pair; pairs are joined with a conjunction).

So I'd say

(a) Ich war gestern draußen und bin am Abend ins Kino gegangen.
(b) Gestern war ich draußen und am Abend im Kino.

(a) Ich war gestern draußen, bin am Abend ins Kino gegangen und war trotzdem vor 9 im Bett.
(b) Gestern war ich draußen, ging am Abend ins Kino und um 8:30 Uhr ins Bett.

  • 1 b) ('am Abend' in this context definitely means 'heute abend') sounds very unnatural to me as it contrasts a time of day with a day.
    – collapsar
    Feb 20 '14 at 13:27
  • @collapsar That's not really my fault. Even in a list, listing gestern war ich draußen with ich ging am Abend ins Kino leaves the listener confused. Gestern nachmittag would be much better. Personally, I interpret my example 1(b) as meaning gestern abend.
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 20 '14 at 14:28
  • @earthlin: as i wrote, while possible i feel it's an unnatural reading. however, i didn't mean to blame anybody, and linguistic pragmatics are just that - no clear-cut answers.
    – collapsar
    Feb 20 '14 at 14:31
  • @collapsar I only used "That's not my fault" figuratively. Of course I agree with you about no clear-cut answers.
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 20 '14 at 14:36
  • 1
    @collapsar: I strongly doubt the "definitely" in your first comment. Most Germans will naturally assume that the speaker is talking about the same day, i.e. that he/she went to the movies last night, precisely because there is only one reference to a particular day.
    – Mac
    Feb 20 '14 at 16:43

Both sentences are correct.

However, one would only use them if they somehow fit better into the rhythm of the narration then the variants with “und”.

  • 2
    I'd never say either sentence.
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 19 '14 at 23:26
  • @Earthliŋ, I agree, but that does not make them wrong.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 20 '14 at 16:11
  • Well, I didn't say they were. But saying "Both are correct. Really. No kidding.", I felt something left out. Namely, that native speakers would probably never use either sentence.
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 20 '14 at 16:24
  • @Earthliŋ, btw, my answer would normally only have consisted of the first sentence, but the software did not allow that.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 20 '14 at 17:48

Yes. You could improve it like this maybe Gestern war ich draußen, ging am Abend **dann** ins Kino.

  • Actually your modification is stylistically inferior. you could use 'Gestern war ich draußen, später dann im Kino'. still it would be better to leave 'dann' out. Each variant is fine in oral speech, however.
    – collapsar
    Feb 20 '14 at 13:33

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