Compared to English, German has a fair amount of what I am describing as "Yoda-speak", whereby the order of elements in a sentence are in the reverse order of what they would be in English.
NOTE: If someone knows what the technical term is for what I am calling "Yoda-speak", please tell me what that term is and what the definition for it is.
As a native English speaker myself, in comparison with German, English appears to be much more "Speaker centric" (We even capitalize the first letter in the word 'I' when that is not done with 'ich').
English: "I could not do that."
German: "Das konnte ich nicht tun."
So in the English version the speaker (I/ich) is on the left side of the verb, but in the German version it is on the right. That's why I term it Yoda-speak, since I don't know what the technical term is for that. (Yoda: "Help you, I will").
I have noticed this pattern for a long time, but as of now, I still have failed to come up with a pattern I could remember that would guide me as to when and where I should put certain sentence elements on the two sides of the primary verb.
Note, I am not concerned with grammatic elements like the verb position alterations that are caused when using conjunctions like "deswegen, etc." which kick the verb to the end of the subsequent clause.
Can someone explain how German speakers think about sentence elements in a way that tells me where I should put the main sentence elements? Most notably, the two primary actors that reside on the left and right side of a sentence's primary verb?
In the example given above, how would a German mentally structure it? What is it about the German thought process that places the primary element the speaker is discussing on the left side of the verb when an English speaker would put it on the right side? In the example above, that sentence element would be the thing that the speaker could not do ("Das").
NOTE: I recognize that there are plenty of German sentences with the same structure as English in the sense that they place a personal pronoun at the start of the sentence. It is the large number of "Yoda-speak" cases that I still am unable to predict when that alternate sentence structure is commonly used.