I have the following sentence:

Diese Lösungen können kombiniert werden mit A,B,C,D und E.

It sounds somewhat badly structured and I feel that the following restructuring would be better:

Diese Lösungen können mit A,B,C,D und E kombiniert werden.

What is the rule behind this called, am I right and is there an expression for describing this sentence type in German?

If anyone can edit my question so it describes the problem better, I would be very thankful. I searched online, but all I could find were rules for when to use a comma.

  • 1
    Welcome to German.SE. I'm unable to tell you rules, so just that: both is fine, your feeling is better. I would say on the one hand it might just be "Behördendeutsch" and on the other hand it might be question of stressing. So your feels-better-example stresses the possible combinations. Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 9:35
  • @ShegitBrahm thanks, I thought that perhaps there would be rules, like in English you are supposed to say big, red, round elephant not round, red, big elephant for example. Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 9:42

2 Answers 2


In my view this is not so much about grammatical correctness (they are both correct), but about the structure of the information presented in the sentence.

In some languages (English, and I would also say German), information at the beginning of a sentence is more in focus. One set of linguistic terminology for this is theme/rheme, or topic/comment, depending on which school of linguistics you choose.

  • So in your first sentence, you stress that it is possible to combine the solutions, and how you do that is with A, B, C, D, and E.

  • In the second sentence you stress that you can combine the solutions with A to E (and not, eg with F and G).

The second type of sentence might be more familiar, as I would assume that in general conversations one more often speaks about actual combinations than the fact that things can be combined in the first place (transferred to other situations, of course), so by being more familiar it feels more 'right'. This is obviously my intuition, and might not be correct.

So to summarise: they are both correct, but the second one has a more typical information structure.


This is a (un)typical example of how it can make sense to deviate from normal word order. In German it can be used to remove the splitting, as is standard in english.

...und E kombiniert werden.

Here - especially with ABCDE placeholders, it is no problem. But add a verb:

...und E kombiniert und neu berechnet werden.

...and complicate "E"

... können mit A, B, C, D und einem mit X versehenen E kombiniert und neu berechnet werden.

...and it can get difficult.

So here you could rearrange:

können kombiniert und neu berechnet werden mit A, B, C, D und E, das mit einem X versehen ist.

This is often done. also in literature, but that is no excuse to do it in evereday life!

??Soll ich benutzen den Hammer

No. That is English (and French, and probably Russian "Soll ich benutzen Chammer") order. Almost as wrong as shall I the hammer use.

But it takes only a small reason to switch to something like

Soll ich nun benutzen: den Hammer oder den grossen Hammer

I put a Doppelpunkt, but when spoken this would express a humurous-aggressive question back. The grammatical roughness is intended.

Technical lists and lange Schachtelsätze in literature often undergo this procedure, and it can be very helpful.

A typical bible translation is:

Es lasse die Erde aufgehen Gras und Kraut, das Samen bringe, und fruchtbare Bäume, die ein jeder nach seiner Art Früchte tragen, in denen ihr Same ist auf der Erde.

I can't even say if e.g "auf der Erde" is emphasized or appended. The result is a special tone - epic.

The other extreme would be - I just realized the dimension of this:

Es lasse die Erde Gras und Kraut, das Samen bringe, und fruchtbare Bäume, die ein jeder nach seiner Art Früchte tragen, in denen ihr Same ist auf der Erde, aufgehen.

A single word like that is rarely advisable. Normal could be after Gras und Kraut...

Diese Lösungen können kombiniert werden mit A,B,C,D und E.

yes, "badly" structured, but with a tone of clarity/mathematics.

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