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I am new to German and have been using various sites/tools in my quest to become fluent (still a ways off). When working through some word order problems I was asked to translate "In my opinion, Tennis is great." I answered with "In meine Meinung ist Tennis super." I was told the correct answer was "Meiner Meinung nach ist Tennis super." My answer translates correctly using Google and shows the correct grammar using LanguageTool. Which is better and why?

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    "In meine Meinung" müsste zunächst "In meiner Meinung" heißen. Dennoch habe ich das Konstrukt "in Meinung" noch nie gehört und ich denke das wird nicht verwendet. Auch wenn ein automatischer Übersetzer im Intermet sowas suggeriert, sollter "meiner Meinung nach" benutzt werden. Ich hab dieses "in Meinung" im Leben noch nicht gehört. – harper Dec 30 '16 at 16:24
  • Thanks @harper. It sounds like you're saying "meiner Meinung nach" is more natural then, correct? – Benjamin Hofmann Dec 30 '16 at 16:46
  • Yes, Sir, exactly. – harper Dec 30 '16 at 18:06
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    Dein Beispiel beweist, dass Google Translate keine brauchbare Quelle für Sätze geringer Komplexität ist. – user unknown Dec 30 '16 at 18:58
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    If you translate your example from English to German, Google is correct. — I'd even say that Google is correct when translating your German (wrong) example. I mean, Google doesn't have a feature saying "Hey, you're sentence doesn't make any sense.". They just translate. If your sentence is nonsense, the outcome is probably also nonsense; or it happens to be correct. Google, eventually, tries to make the best of it. — So, I wouldn't say that Google is wrong here, but I also think that you shouldn't consider the source as correct, just because it makes sense in your mother tongue. – Em1 Dec 30 '16 at 19:37
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In German you literally don't say »in my opinion«, but »according to my opinion«. And in this construction »according to« has to be translated as »nach«.

»Nach« is a preposition that needs a completion in dative case. This completion is the german word for »opinion«: »Meinung«. But you can't use this word alone. Either you use an article:

Nach der Meinung (according to the opinion)
Nach einer Meinung (according to an opinion)

Or you replace the article with a personal pronoun, but this pronoun has to be used in genitive case (like in english: »who's opinion - my opinion«).

Nach meiner Meinung (according to my opinion)

So the complete sentence could be

Nach meiner Meinung ist Tennis großartig.

(»Großartig« is stylistic a better translation of »great« than »klasse«)
This already is a correct german sentence. But word order is much more flexible in German than in Englisch, so also this version is correct:

Meiner Meinung nach ist Tennis großartig.

And this is also the more common version. The other version (»nach meiner Meinung ...«) is correct too, but less often used, and therefor not the best choice.

BTW:
The standard word order in German sentences is: subject - predicate - object(s). And this sentences subject is »Tennis«. So in standard word order this sentence would be:

Tennis ist meiner Meinung nach großartig.

But as said before: Word order is very flexible in German. Very often you move that part of speech in the first position that you want to get the highest attention. But there is a rule that you never can break: At position 2 of the sentence has to be the predicate (or a part of the predicate if it has more than one parts, this part has to be the auxiliary verb).

  • I accidentally hit enter before I was done. What I meant to say was: Very good explanation. Thanks! That was very helpful. – Benjamin Hofmann Dec 30 '16 at 20:48
  • @BenjaminHofmann: You can edit comments within the first 5 Minutes after posting. And you can delete your own comments (without any time limit). – Hubert Schölnast Dec 31 '16 at 8:32
  • Thanks @hubert-schölnast! I tried to edit it right away but it wouldn't let me. – Benjamin Hofmann Jan 2 '17 at 14:56
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You can not use any translation tool for correct grammar. It extremely depends on style and complexity of sentence structure. So every little child giving you a sentence is better than every tool I am aware of. Start reading and listening German as soon as possible, this is the only way to learn correct grammar. Use translation tools simply for lookup of single words or simple phrases.

  • Ya, that's why I posted here. I learned pretty early that the translation tools are lacking. Sometimes they are useful for identifying if I used the wrong tense or case. When I have a problem/question I usually do a quick lookup using the tools to see if I can quickly see what is wrong. For complex or nuanced questions I try to rely on people to explain it. I try to listen to native speakers but they talk so fast. I'll do more of it. Thanks for the suggestion. – Benjamin Hofmann Dec 30 '16 at 18:39
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First, "my opinion" should be "meiner Meinung." You need the "r," genitive case, because of the possessive, meine.

"Meiner Meinung nach" or "Nach meiner Meinung" are just more idiomatic ways of saying "In Meiner Meinung," which is an Anglicism. In your usage, the clause would occupy the first spot in the sentence, the verb "ist" follows the clause in the second spot, the noun "Tennis" goes into the third (not the fourth), and "super" occupies the remaining position.

  • Thanks for the case correction. That is another thing I am working on. I appreciate the explanation. It helps. – Benjamin Hofmann Dec 30 '16 at 17:14
  • Not dative, but genitive case: »Wessen Meinung nach? - Meiner Meinung nach.« If it was dative case you had to ask »Wem Meinung nach? - Mir Meinung nach.« But this is wrong. – Hubert Schölnast Dec 30 '16 at 19:52
  • @HubertSchölnast: OK, fixed. – Tom Au Dec 30 '16 at 19:59
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You could say (better use klasse for great instead of super):

Nach meiner Meinung ist Tennis klasse.

Meiner Meinung nach ist Tennis klasse. *)

Tennis ist nach meiner Meinung klasse.

Tennis ist meiner Meinung nach klasse. *)

All these are valid. *) sound better. The differences are subtle. Rule of thumb: The first and the last thing in a German sentence have the emphasis.

  • Meiner meinung nach passt super genau so gut wie klasse oder spitze. klasse hört sich für mich aus irgendeinem Grund komisch an, ich weiß aber nicht warum. – C5H8NNaO4 Dec 30 '16 at 17:26
  • Benjamin's avatar looks like a person who shouldn't say "super" but something more classy. – Janka Dec 30 '16 at 17:29
  • @Janka: Was fürn Quatsch! – user unknown Dec 30 '16 at 19:03
  • @user unknown: don't worry, you can say super all the time. I bet you do. – Janka Dec 30 '16 at 19:21
  • @Janka: You lost your bet. I don't need to like tea, to recognize, that many people use it. Maybe yiou're different. – user unknown Dec 31 '16 at 13:42

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