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I cannot understand in which cases the verb can be placed at the first position in a regular affirmative sentence (statement).

I'm familiar with the structure of a German sentence, I understand that usually the verbs are at the 2nd position. I am awared about subordinate clause, Imperativ and other type of sentences when the verb must be placed at the first position, I also checked the similar questions here (in German Stackexchange), and I read this article from Wikipedia.

However, there are still cases, when the sentence is not an Imperativ, not a subordinate clause, not a Konditionale/Bedingungssätze, not a question etc, but the verb stays at the first place.

Let's take some real examples:

  1. I've heard that when someone replies to a questions:
  • Hast du ... gemacht?
  • Ja, habe ich.

but sometimes I've also heard

  • Hast du ... gemacht?
  • Ja, ich habe ...

Why both versions are possible? I would personally use the second version (according to the rules I've learned), but I've heard the first version from the native speakers, so that's why I want to understand why it is considered to be correct.

  1. Let's take a look at the following sentence:

Zu meiner Arbeit - ich bin Programmiereer in einer kleinen Firma für programme, fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto."

If we ignore the beginning (just for the simplicity), we can basically split it into 2 independent sentences splitted by a comma:

Ich bin Programmiereer in einer kleinen Firma für programme (1), fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto (2)"

So why then the verb is at the 1st position in the first sentences?

  1. I saw a movie recently. The guy in the movie enjoyed the view of the nature and said (statement):

Ist das schon.

It was a statement, not a question, but the verb had the 1st position there.

  1. I've found a following text:

Ich denke das liegt daran, das theoretisch jeder US Amerikaner ein Immigrant ist, währenddessen es in Deutschand immigranten gibt und halt deutsche die schon immer in deutschland waren. Kann aber auch dran liegen, das viele garnicht sagen können wo genau ihre Wurzeln her sind.

And again the verb is at the first position. The only thing which comes to my mind is that the sentences misses "es" or "das" in the begining and this could be the reason why "kann" is at the first place, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

13

To comment your examples directly:

Hast du ... gemacht? Ja, habe ich.

Here the answer is just a short form of "Ja, (das) habe ich( gemacht)." and is used just for shortness in everyday language. This is indeed very common for short answers where you otherwise would just repeat the words of the question.

Your second example in my opinion contains (besides two typos) a punctuation error. It should perhaps read

Zu meiner Arbeit - ich bin Programmierer in einer kleinen Firma für Programme - fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.

Please note the hyphen instead of the comma, which turns the part "ich bin ...für Programme" into an insertion clause. The main sentence now remains as "Zu meiner Arbeit ... fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto". As it is normal in german, the verb now is at the second (not in words, but in phrases) position.

Ist das schön!

This is just an exclamation clause (here) referring to a landscape and is used this way to emphasize the fact that the view is very beautiful.

In your last example I assume - as you also do - that there is just the word "Es" or "Das" missing. It might be possible, however, that this is (see example 1) just used as a shortcut.

  • 1
    In the case of the exclamation, the word order is the same as in a question. ("Ist das schön!" - "Ist das schön?") – RHa Jul 7 '17 at 6:27
5

1.

The sentence

Ja, habe ich.

is not a regular statement. It is an ellipsis (a shortened version of a regular sentence). This ellipsis is missing the accusative object, that is mandatory for the verb »machen« that also is missing. Only the subject (ich), the auxiliary verb (habe, a form of haben) and an answer particle (ja) are present.

The complete regular sentence is:

Ja, das habe ich gemacht.

There »das« is the accusative object (what has been done?) and »gemacht« (a form of machen) is the main verb.

And now, the auxiliary verb (habe) is on position 2.


2.

Zu meiner Arbeit - ich bin Programmierer in einer kleinen Firma für Programme, fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.

No. You can not ignore the beginning. What you wanted to ignore, is part of the main clause, which is:

Zu meiner Arbeit fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.

In this sentence the verb (fahre, a form of fahren) is on position 2. On position 1 you find a prepositional object, that is part of the main clause. You can build a sentence without this object, but then you have to move another part of speech into position 1:

Ich fahre normalerweise mit dem Auto.
Normalerweise fahre ich mit dem Auto.
Mit dem Auto fahre normalerweise ich.

Note also, that the way, how you inserted the other clause into the sentence, is wrong. You can not use a hyphen at the beginning and a comma at the end. The signs must match.

This is allowed:

  • commas (the recommended way)

    Zu meiner Arbeit, ich bin Programmierer in einer kleinen Firma für Programme, fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.

  • hyphens

    Zu meiner Arbeit - ich bin Programmierer in einer kleinen Firma für Programme - fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.

  • round brackets

    Zu meiner Arbeit (ich bin Programmierer in einer kleinen Firma für Programme) fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto.


3.

Ist das schon. (Is this already.)

I guess you mean instead

Ist das schön. (Is this beautiful.)

Semantically this is an exclamation. But grammatically it is a question:

Ist das schön? (Is this beautiful?)

But closed Questions always have the verb at position 1, so this sentence is a correct (rhetoric) question, where no answer is expected.

A question is closed if you expect answers like yes or no. Answers to open questions are sentences like »(I am) in my car«, but they beginn with a question particle (in german: wo? wer? wann? inwiefern? ...)


4.

Kann aber auch dran liegen, das viele garnicht sagen können wo genau ihre Wurzeln her sind.

This again is an ellipsis. This sentence has no subject. You can fill in the expletive subjects es or das to turn it into a regular statement:

Es kann aber auch dran liegen, das viele garnicht sagen können wo genau ihre Wurzeln her sind.

Das kann aber auch dran liegen, das viele garnicht sagen können wo genau ihre Wurzeln her sind.

  • 1
    If I remember correctly, (1) and (4) are called "Vorfeldellipse". – phipsgabler Jul 7 '17 at 10:18
  • @phg: Might be correct. Could also exist in other languages. – Hubert Schölnast Jul 7 '17 at 11:28
  • There are languages (called "pro-drop languages") where a pronoun often can simply be omitted. Italian and Spanish belong to this group, but also Japanese. In German generally you cannot do that, but in some situations you can use an ellipsis for the sake of shortness. But this is usually restricted to spoken language. – RHa Jul 7 '17 at 18:43
1

You can regard these first position verbs as phrase "contractions," with understood nominatives.

To take your examples:

1) "Habe ich" (gemacht) is a contraction for "das habe ich gemacht.
Likewise, 4) " Kann aber auch dran liegen..." is short for "Man kann aber auch dran liegen..."

Number 2 features a sentence within a sentence. To understand it, put parenthesis around the (second) embedded sentence.

Zu meiner Arbeit - (ich bin Programmiereer in einer kleinen Firma für programme), fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto."

The "first" sentence reads "Zu meiner Arbeit fahre ich normalerweise mit dem Auto."with the verb in the natural second position (before you altered the "word order" by inserting the second sentence, which functions like an emphasis word such as "doch" or "ubrigens").

Number 3 is kind of an exception to the above rules. He really meant, "Das ist schön." But he inverted the word order for emphasis. Normally the sentence would read as a question, "Ist das schön?" In this case, however, the punctuation would be an exclamation mark: "Ist das schön!" The inverted word order "raises eyebrows," and therefore makes a point. An English example is "Isn't she lovely" (from the Stevie Wonder song), which is technically a question, but really an exclamation.

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