While studying German I encountered a sentence:

Wie lange wohnst du schon hier?

and the translation of this sentence was given as follow:

How long have you been living here?

Since I am new to German and I am still learning about the rules and the exceptions, this sentence confuses me. The rule about adverbs I know is: the adverb often comes after the verb (citing from here). Here's my question: what is the condition during which an adverb is placed before the verb to which it is referring?

Can I write the above-mentioned sentence as,

Wie wohnst lange du schon hier?

I have read this thread: Confused by "lange" as adverb. Although it did clear my lang vs lange doubt, I still wish to have a much clear understanding of the adverb position in sentences.

1 Answer 1


No, "wie lange" meaning "how long" acts as a unit of meaning (phrase) and cannot be split apart. And since it is an indivisible unit, it can occupy the single spot before the finite verb in a normal German main clause even though it consists of two words. (It's even possible to have even longer constructions in that place if they work together as closely. For instance, the same would go for "wie lange genau?" meaning "How long exactly?".)

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