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I am new to German so would be grateful if someone could help with this trivial question.

When doing some exercises from my course book I saw such an example

Aber zur Zeit ist sie Hausfrau.

The question is the position of the subject. What if I change the sentence into "Aber zur Zeit sie ist die Hausfrau" or "Aber sie ist Hausfrau zur Zeit"

  • Aber zur Zeit ist sie die Hausfrau would point out that there is a role called Hausfrau which is taken by one of a group that is responsible to fill that position. And this one female (sie) is currently taking that role. Just as another word order adjacent to your examples with different meaning. Same would be Aber zur Zeit ist sie die Chefin - there is a boss and more than one person is eligible to be boss. – Shegit Brahm Jul 25 at 10:47
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Let's take a look at the valid example you gave as well as the other valid permutations:

Aber sie ist zur Zeit Hausfrau.

Aber Hausfrau ist sie zur Zeit.

Aber Hausfrau ist zur Zeit sie.

Aber zur Zeit ist sie Hausfrau.

These are all valid. The difference is in the emphasis. The item in front of the finite verb gets the most emphasis, it's the topic. The item at the end of the sentence gets the second most emphasis.

The iron rule of building declarative clause in German is the V2 rule. The finite verb comes second. Or, to put it differently.

  • In declarative clauses, there is exactly one item in front of the finite verb.

Not one word, but one item. For example the subject, an object, an adverbial, including all the articles, pronoun, counter belonging to it. It may also be a whole clause. But only one.

Your example features an exception though. Aber is a so called 0th item, which does not count. These are mostly interjections and particles.

Now you can tell why

Aber zur Zeit sie ist die Hausfrau.

is invalid.


In case you wonder there are two more permutations which should be valid according to the above rule. But they aren't for complicated reasons.

Aber sie ist Hausfrau zur Zeit. (at least uncommon with an adverbial of time)

Aber zur Zeit ist Hausfrau sie. (uncommon apart from poetry)

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"Aber zur Zeit sie ist die Hausfrau" would be incorrect. Since you are starting the sentence using a temporal adverb ("Zur Zeit") the verb ("ist") has to follow --> Aber zur Zeit ist sie Hausfrau.

You can change it to "Aber sie ist Hausfrau zur Zeit", that is correct :)

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