1

I am a bit confused on why We are also eating bread translates to "Wir essen auch Brot" and not something like: Wir auch essen Brot or wir essen Brot auch.

I am still trying to learn word order in German as you may notice.

1

Key to the following answer:
[S] = subject
[P] = predicate
[O] = object
[A] = adverbial

You can't say:
"Wir_[S] auch_[A] essen_[P] Brot_[O]"
because of German word order: the (finite verb part of the) predicate must be the second element in the sentence. By putting the adverbial "auch" second, the sentence becomes ungrammatical.

You can, however, say both:
"Wir_[S] essen_[P] auch_[A] Brot_[O]"
"Wir_[S] essen_[P] Brot_[O] auch_[A]"

In both sentences, the predicate comes second, which fulfils the only truly rigid rule about German sentence structure. The rest is pretty much variable.

Germans, however, would prefer the following "normal" sentence structure:
"Wir_[S] essen_[P] auch_[A] Brot_[O]",
i.e. we prefer to put the adverbial after the predicate. Any deviation from this structure will put a stress on the element that is moved, particularly on elements moved to the front of the sentence:
"Brot_[O] essen_[P] wir_[S] auch_[A]" (stress on "Brot")
"Auch_[A] essen_[P] wir_[S] Brot_[O]" (stress on "Auch")

1

For a declarative sentence like yours, these are all allowed:

Wir essen auch Brot.

Wir essen Brot auch. (not common)

Brot essen wir auch.

Brot essen auch wir.

Auch wir essen Brot.

Auch Brot essen wir.

See the pattern? The important rule is: the finite verb comes second. Not second word, but second part of the sentence.

All but the second example are common, and the difference is emphasis. Usually the last, then the first word in the sentence get the emphasis but your example is a bit more complicated because of auch, which puts emphasis to the following word.

  • Examples 4 and 5 have a different meaning; instead of we eat something and bread they mean we and somebody eat(s) bread. – guidot Apr 18 '17 at 10:39
  • Here is a situation where you would say "Wir auch essen Brot": when you want to impersonate an Ausländer in Germany, i.e. a person who has no good command of German and uses the word order common in his/her native language. (You would add respective pronunciation, e.g. "Wirr auch ässän Brott".) – Christian Geiselmann Apr 19 '17 at 9:44

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.