2

Some time ago I wrote a text on one site where people check whether what you've written is correct or not.

I wrote a sentence “Ich bin krank seit einer Woche”, and one person corrected me saying that it should have been like “Ich bin seit einer Woche krank.”

I know that the structure of sentences in German is a little complicated and I at least try to find out some rules but with this one I am so confused especially because I couldn't find anything on the Internet about it.

Could you please tell me why krank is at the end? Are all adjectives treated like this and should I always put the adjective at the end?

  • I guess you don't find anything about "position of adjective", because what you need to look for is rather "position of all that stuff than can be added to that sentence" (i.e. adverbs, adverbial phrases, modal particles, clauses, ...) – Em1 Aug 26 '16 at 7:18
  • Possible duplicate of Is putting an adverbial after the non-finite verb okay? – chirlu Aug 26 '16 at 15:41
  • @chirlu I wouldn't necessarily say it's a duplicate because this question is about the adjective and the one you mentioned is about the verb. – Robert Aug 26 '16 at 20:19
  • @Robert: Both are about putting something past the regular end of the sentence, into the Nachfeld. – chirlu Aug 26 '16 at 21:22
  • @chirlu Right, but it may not be obvious to learners that it works the same for verbs and adjectives. – Robert Aug 27 '16 at 20:04
1

Your version is correct but uncommon. The version that was suggested to you is a bit more common. There is absolutely no rule that predicative adjectives must be placed at the end of the sentence. The only fixed rule about word ordering is that the finite verb must be second in main clauses, and any separable parts of the verb must be at the very end (followed only by extended infinitives). However, it is typical to have predicative adjectives near the end of a sentence since they typically form part of the rheme, the new information of a sentence. (Constrasting with the theme, already established information of a sentence.)

For the purpose of emphasis, it can still be moved around pretty much anywhere:

Die Schule ist zu wegen der Baustelle.

Hoch sind die Mieten besonders in München.

Krank bin ich seit einer Woche.

  • You can turn the predicative stuff always around as it's a reflection of the subject –– that's clear. But with your first sentence it could also be the prepositional phrase that's wandering: Er ist gegangen wegen der Baustelle. – deponensvogel Aug 27 '16 at 14:14
  • @deponensvogel That’s a very unclear case anyway. With sein and a past participle, arguments can be made that we are only dealing with a predicative adjective. However, that can be adjusted for by saying: ‘Die Schule wurde geschlossen wegen der Baustelle.’ Some may argue that we are dealing with two phrases that are joined by a comma. I really don’t know what I would say on that subject without elaborate thinking … – Jan Aug 28 '16 at 11:57
  • What do you mean with ›are joined by a comma‹? But yes, German syntax can get you quite depressed. – deponensvogel Aug 28 '16 at 19:24
  • @deponensvogel It’s supposed to read ‘are to be joined by a comma.’ Does it make sense now? – Jan Aug 29 '16 at 11:54
1

If you know German sentence structure a little bit you've probably heard about past participle when building the Perfekt. It's at the end of the sentence all the time.

Er ist gegangen.

Er ist wegen seiner Freundin schon vor mindestens einer Stunde gegangen.

›Ist‹ is the so-called auxiliar verb and ›gegangen‹ the past participle (which is an adjective: all participles are adjectives).

It's the same system with this sentence:

Er ist krank.

Er ist wegen seinem Unfall schon seit mindestens einer Woche krank.

›Ist‹ is now a so-called copula and ›krank‹ the predicative adjective (Prädikatsnomen/prädikativ gebrauchtes Adjektiv) or whatever you call that in English.

Concerning syntax these two work the same way. Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Thank you so much! Your answer has clarified everything I was confused about! I would never come up with the idea participles work similar to adjectives... This makes a lot of sense now :) – Kasia Dziobek Aug 25 '16 at 22:46
  • You are ignoring the possibility to move parts of the sentence into the Nachfeld, which is what happened in the example from the question and is absolutely fine (although uncommon in such a short sentence). – chirlu Aug 26 '16 at 15:43
  • I’m not even sure if the combination of copula and predicative adjective form a Verbklammer in the traditional sense … and krank sein is not a typical separable word since it is ‘Ich kann mir nicht leisten, krank zu sein’ (not: *krankzusein). – Jan Aug 26 '16 at 22:31
  • 1
    @deponensvogel: What is your standard of "spoken language"? It is definitely wrong that no one uses the genitive after "wegen" when speaking. Maybe no one you know, but how many of the about 100 million speakers of the German language do you know? – celtschk Aug 28 '16 at 11:58
  • 1
    Actually, yes, I know a bunch of people who do use the genitive after wegen, and this is the correct form. Dative is wrong, even though it's common. I'd rather not comment on your native speaker's "good sense for grammar"... – Robert Aug 28 '16 at 21:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.