2

Some example tell me it does:

Ich denke, es kann nicht anders sein

And some tells me it doesnt:

Ich denke, bevor wir darüber diskutieren können, müssen wir zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben

Why in the second sentence it became Nebensatz and in the first I got another Haupt?

4
  • Your second example isn't a correct German sentence. It also appears to be just a fragment. I don't know what it intends to say.
    – user6495
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 9:26
  • I tried to edit it @Roland
    – Babu
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 9:29
  • That is, I think, a bit of an XY question. "Ich denke" never starts a Nebensatz (because it's V2 position). I guess you're asking "how do i recognize a Nebensatz" that is introduced after "Ich denke..."?
    – tofro
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 8:57
  • My assumption is, that the sentences both work only in conversation. The comma reflects just a rising sentence melody, but the correct writtten form would require a colon instead, or insertion of a dass making the following a consecutive sentence.
    – guidot
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 9:24

2 Answers 2

1

What is a Nebensatz? One definition says: an embedded sentence that serves a given function in its matrix clause.

Ich denke, [ dass das kein Problem ist. ] (verb-final)

Dass das kein Problem ist is an embedded clause that serves as the object of denken. It has the form of a verb-final clause (Verbletztsatz), and that is the form that subordinate clauses usually take.

The term matrix clause is simply the converse embedded clause: dass das kein Problem ist is embedded in ich denke, dass das kein Problem ist and ich denke, dass das kein Problem ist is the matrix clause of dass das kein Problem ist. (Although frequently, to avoid having to repeat the embedded clause, people will simply refer to ich denke as the matrix clause and put an ellipsis … to indicate that the embedded clause has been left out.)

The fact that embedded clauses most frequently take the form of verb-final clauses has led some to use Nebensatz in the meaning of verb-final clause. The first and second definition enter into a conflict when encountering sentences such as the following.

Ich denke, [ das ist kein Problem. ] (V2)

Das ist kein Problem is an embedded clause that serves as the object of denken and has the form of a V2 clause (clause with the finite verb in second position, Verbzweitsatz). It falls under Nebensatz according to the first definition, but not the second.

What form the object of a given verb can take is decided by the verb. The object of denken can be realised as both a verb-final and a V2 clause.

Turning to the sentences you gave, both have the object of denken realised as a V2 clause. They could also be rendered as verb-final clauses.

Ich denke, [ es kann nicht anders sein. ] (V2)

Ich denke, [ dass es nicht anders sein kann. ] (verb-final)

Ich denke, [ [ bevor wir darüber diskutieren können, ] müssen wir zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben. ] (V2)

Ich denke, [ dass wir, [ bevor wir darüber diskutieren können, ] zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben müssen. ] (verb-final)

Note that bevor wir darüber diskutieren können is an embedded clause of its own, functioning as an adverbial of time. The matrix clauses are … müssen wir zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben (V2) or dass wir … zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben müssen (verb-final).

Bevor wir darüber diskutieren können does not stand in a relation to the independent matrix clause ich denke … And that might have been the root of your problem: Reading the beginning of the sentence

Ich denke, bevor wir darüber diskutieren können …

might have led you to believe that denke is followed by a verb-final clause. But as I said, bevor wir darüber diskutieren können belongs to … müssen wir zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben, which functions as the object of denken and is V2.

If the placement of the adverbial bevor-clause in first position of the original example gives you trouble, you can put something else there.

Ich denke, [ wir müssen zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben, [ bevor wir darüber diskutieren können. ] ]

Alternatively, substitute davor für bevor wir darüber diskutieren können.

Ich denke, [ davor müssen wir zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben. ] (V2)

4
  • matrix clause...?O_O
    – Babu
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 10:03
  • I believe you have infact correctly identified the problem but I can't seem to figure out what you are giving as resolution to the problem.
    – Babu
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 10:08
  • "dass wir zunächst den" but the actual sentence you wrote has no "dass"
    – Babu
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 19:02
  • Could you point me to the right place in the post? I don't see it.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 19:34
0

If you look at the sentence after "Ich denke," in your second example, you see that it is a subordinate clause followed by a main clause. You can restructure it (or leave it out), and get the "Ich denke," followed by a main clause again, as in the first example:

Ich denke, wir müssen zunächst den Kontext der Situation beschreiben (, bevor wir darüber diskutieren können)

Note that the subordinate clause preceding the main clause takes the 1st position, and thus the declined verb follows it directly. When restructuring, we need to move some part (often the subject) in front of it, to make it a V2 main clause.

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