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What is the correct way to use heute in a sentence regarding the weather? For example, which sentence is correct?:

Es ist bewölkt heute.

or

Es ist heute bewölkt.

another example:

Es ist sonnig heute.

or

Es ist heute sonnig.

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  • Welcome to German.SE. Why do you think one of these seems wrong/odd - or do you think there is a difference in English so there might be one in German as well? Jan 11, 2022 at 18:35

2 Answers 2

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German allows some freedom for the word order. Both are possible. You also can write:

Heute ist es sonnig.

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English makes a lot usage of positions to indicate which part of speech has which semantic function. But in German you identify semantic function by grammatical features, mainly by grammatical cases. And this allows us to arrange the words in a sentence more freely. German has a much more flexible word order than English.

Among all living Germanic languages only English is a SVO language. SVO means: Subject - Verb - Object(s) and it means, that these parts appear in exactly this order in all full sentences that are normal statements (no questions and no commands). All other Germanic languages (Norwegian, Swedisch, German, Danish, Dutch, Yiddish, Afrikaans etc.) are V2 languages. V2 means: Verb at position 2. SVO is a more strict subtype of V2, or to see it from the other point of view: V2 is more flexible than SVO.

Here are the main rules for German full-sentence-statements:

  1. The finite verb is always at position 2. "Finite" means: It is inflected to match with the subject in number (singular/plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd person)
  2. All other verbs (which are infinite verbs) are at the very end of the statement. This includes the prefixes of separable verbs in tenses which make it necessary to separate separable verbs.
  3. The subject is always in nominative case. Since normally no other part is in nominative case, this is how subjects are identified within the sentence. But still the most common place for a subject is position 1. If it is not there (which very often is the case), it is a position 3.
  4. All other parts of speech can be at any position in the sentence.

This allows these versions of your sentence:

Es ist bewölkt heute.
Es ist heute bewölkt.
Heute ist es bewölkt.
Bewölkt ist es heute.

And of course this also works when you replace bewölkt by sonnig or stürmisch or kalt or any other adjective that is able to describe the weather.

All 4 versions are correct. Only the last version will be used rarely, but if you want to strongly emphasize that it is cloudy, this version is still ok. And Emphasis is the point:

The standard word order is the same as in Englisch (Subject on position 1). But if you want to emphasize a certain part of speech, we use unusual (but still correct) word orders. We move the word that we want to emphasize either to position 1 or to another position different from it's standard position.

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  • The end of a sentence has stress as well, usually reserved for new information. So in general pronouns come before nouns other than the subject. The way I think of it is that a sentence tells a little story, and you want the most important parts at the beginning or the end so the listener will remember them. Bewölkt ist es heute does sound odd but not impossible. Perhaps it would work better with something more dramatic like schrecklich stürmisch or unheimlich dunkel instead of bewölkt.
    – RDBury
    Jan 12, 2022 at 11:33

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