The full phrase looks like this Die Pizza sieht lecker aus. Ich denke die nehme ich. It should mean The pizza looks delicious. I think I'll go with that.

I would understand Ich denke, daß ich nehme sie, but I cannot get the form I mentioned above.

  • 1
    The english translation is correct. However in a subclause with "dass" it would be something like "Ich denke, dass ich diese nehme" - which would just feel very unwieldy saying that out loud. So we would usually shorten this to "Ich denke, die nehm' ich." PS: Word order of subject predicate and object can change a lot depending on what kind of sentence it is in german.
    – Adwaenyth
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:50
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    Related, in German german.stackexchange.com/questions/857/…
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:50
  • 1
    @Adwaenyth please do not answer in comments. Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:52
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    @infinitezero that's not really an answer, just the gut feeling of a native speaker. ;)
    – Adwaenyth
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:57

4 Answers 4


Simple part

Many verbs that take subordinate clauses can take clauses that look like main clauses.

  1. Ich glaube, dass der Termin verschoben wurde.
  2. Ich glaube, der Termin wurde verschoben.

This creates a terminological problem. Nebensatz usually refers to clauses that are subordinate and verb-final, just as in the first sentence above. Hauptsatz, on the other hand, usually refers to main clauses (i.e. not subordinate, but independent) that, in the case of declarative clauses, are verb-second.

In the second sentence above, we have a subordinate clause with "main clause word order", i.e. verb-second. Grammarians have come up with the term uneingeleiteter Nebensatz, with uneingeleitet referring to the missing conjunction.

Difficult part

Although the two sentences above are equivalent in meaning, this is not always the case. In fact, for your example, I find

#Ich denke, dass ich die nehme.

close to unacceptable with the intended meaning of communicating an order to a waiter. (The sentence is fine when communicating to someone else which pizza you intend to order.)

One assumption that would explain this discrepancy is this: When the content of the matrix clause is sufficiently "light" or close to redundant (after all, opinions or beliefs can be expressed without prefixing ich denke or ich glaube), the illocutionary force of the sentence is carried by the embedded clause when that clause is able to do so, i.e. when it has the form of a main clause (verb-second).

In other words,

Ich denke, die nehme ich.

is equivalent to

Die nehme ich!


Ich denke, dass ich die nehme.

is like

Ich gedenke, diese Pizza zu nehmen.
Ich spiele mit dem Gedanken, diese Pizza zu nehmen.

in so far as that it can't be used to relay an order to a waiter.

For the terminus technicus of illocution see Wikipedia.


I am not a native German speaker (learning the language myself), but I noticed something strange: 'nehme' usually means 'with me' (ex. 'zum mitnehmen' -> 'take away' /'take it to go'/...) so the more accurate translation would be: I think I'll take it (with me).

Ich denke - I think/ I consider

die - refers to the pizza

nehme ich - I'll have it / I'll take / take with me

But yes, for me also it doesn't come natural to say it like that.

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    Welcome to German.SE. Sorry to disapppoint you: in this context it is "I choose this pizza" ;-) Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:37
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    If Iam not mistaken "nehmen" also means to "have something" especially when talking about food and drink. (Ich nehme ein bier) Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:38
  • @ShegitBrahm I am also not a native English speaker, but I think the context is quite similar (the end result is that the pizza seller will give you the pizza :). Also, I think that John Ronald (and myself) need(ed) a more literal translation for better understanding, and in you context 'Ich denke' can not be recognized. Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:51
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    @theCuriousOne: oh, sorry, I refered only to "die nehme ich". Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:53

... den/die/das nehme ich refers to "I choose this" = "Ich wähle den/die/das ... (aus)."

The first half ich denke is just "I consider/think about to".

So yes, it is similiar to the given english description I think I'll go with that.

So it is an expression of choice rather than a future movement of me with the object.

See e.g. DWDS no 4 a)


There is a comma missing in the sentence. The correct sentence is:

Ich denke, die nehme ich.

This is called Objektsatz. The subordinate clause after the comma is the object of the main clause.

Literally translated: I think I take them or maybe rather I think I will take them, considering that English is more strict with respect to future tense than German.

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