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(De)Ja, du hast das wohl gemacht.

(Eng)Yeah, you did that well.

In German sentence, the second part is not actually a nebensatz. Why? Is it not so though the phrase is after a comma?

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    To be clear what is going on, the "yeah"/"ja" is just a word tacked on to the sentence; it doesn't affect the grammar of the rest of the sentence. I call it a preamble, though there are probably more "official" grammatical terms. Other examples in English include various interjections ("wow", "yuck", etc.) and a person's name if you're trying to get their attention. Similar words can be added to the end of a sentence as postambles. You can even have interambles: "I won't do that, Amy, because it's illegal."
    – RDBury
    Aug 3, 2022 at 14:02
  • For there to be a subordinate clause, there has to be a main clause. A single Ja does not count as a main clause.
    – RHa
    Aug 3, 2022 at 20:19
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    Nebenpoint. I'm not a Muttersprachler, but I don't think "wohl" typically translates to "well" in its sense as the adverb form of "good". I think your sentence would more likely be interpreted as: "Yes, you probably did that."
    – cruthers
    Aug 3, 2022 at 23:02
  • @cruthers: You're right, or "Yes, it looks like you did that." Aug 4, 2022 at 6:38

1 Answer 1

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In order for something to constitute a clause, it is required to have a finite form of a verb. As there are a lot of scenarios where there is a comma, but not two finite verbs, not every comma creates a (subordinate) clause. Here are just a few constructions with a comma and no subordinate clause, this is not necessarily a complete list:

  1. Some commas are just enumerations:

Ich gehe zum Bäcker, nach Hause, und danach ins Büro.

  1. Another common counterexample of your hypothesis is a paratactic structure, that is two main clauses connected by a conjunction. Conjunctions of und, oder and denn (and others probably, this is just off the top of my head) combine two main clauses:

Ich gehe zum Bäcker und danach gehe ich nach Hause.
Ich gehe zum Bäcker oder ich gehe ins Büro.
Ich gehe zum Bäcker, denn ich habe Hunger.

There is a lot more on this, and I recommend you read a grammar introduction into main clauses and subordinate clauses in German. Maybe [this]1 could be a good start.

  1. A third example is an apposition:

Monika Meyer, unsere Direktorin, ist heute im Urlaub.

  1. Another group (and this is the one in your example), is just an interjection:

Ja, du hast das wohl gemacht.

[Ja,] cannot be a clause, because it has no finite verb.

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  • But could you explain how one knows if comma created a subordinate clause or not? Aug 3, 2022 at 20:19
  • @Beautifullyirrational I added some explanation in the beginning. But I really recommend you take a look in a grammar book / website. :) Aug 3, 2022 at 20:20
  • Whether a clause is a subclause or a main clause, can a) be identified by word order, or b) by knowing by heart those conjunctions introducing a main clause as well as those introducting a subordinate clause. Aug 3, 2022 at 20:23

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