A recent Slow German podcast contained the following sentence

Also eigentlich heißt er Heiko Schotte, aber alle nennen ihn nur Schotty.

Why does the verb, heißt, not occupy the second position in this sentence? It appears to me that there are adverbs occupying the first and second positions in this sentence.

1 Answer 1


V2 word order does not mean the finite verb is the second word. It means all what is before the finite verb is one huge sentence item.

Also eigentlich heißt er Heiko Schotte, aber alle nennen ihn nur Schotty.

These are two concatenated main clauses. Both have V2 word order.

  • Also eigentlich is a slight modification of eigentlich. The also means to be specific here.

But of course, as always, there is an exception:

  • The second clause has a "zero-position" item, aber. Some conjunctions, some adverbs and all particles belong to this group.
  • Sorry but your answer does not make sense to me, in that both the words "also" and "eigentlich" appear to act independently. Your explanation does not give me a reason to think that the combination can legitimately be viewed as a single element in sentence structure. If that were true then it would be legitimate to string any number of adverbs together prior to the verb. That is not my understanding.
    – user38158
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 23:46
  • As I wrote, you misunderstand the V2 rule. It does not say any row of adverbs can form a valid sentence item. It just says if you are sure a declarative main clause is valid, because it's coming from a native speaker, you can be sure all what's in front of the finite verb belongs together as one sentence item. (Apart from the zero-position items, but also isn't one.)
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 0:16
  • Other combinations you will find occassionally are nur eigentlich and ja eigentlich. In contrary, for example in denn eigentlich and aber eigentlich the denn and aber are zero-position items and independent from eigentlich.
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 0:24
  • 2
    I think this also is a zero-position item: Also er heißt eigentlich … ist equally possible without a change in meaning.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 7:48
  • 1
    Indeed, also is zero-position here, which can be the case when it's used colloquially to introduce a sentence, like in Also ich denke mal...
    – RHa
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 11:21

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