1

If I wanted to say 'I like to go for walks' where does 'gern' go?
My guess is

Ich gehe gern spazieren.

Is this correct?

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  • Yes, it is a modal adverb i think Aug 29, 2023 at 9:46
  • Your sentence doesn't really match the title, there's no separable verb in there.
    – DonHolgo
    Aug 29, 2023 at 10:37
  • Some sources see "spazierengehen" as one separable verb, others treat it as a different type, i.e. two verbs... (de.wikipedia.org/wiki/…)
    – Alazon
    Aug 29, 2023 at 12:49

2 Answers 2

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Yes. Adverbs precede the verb phrase they modify, just as in English. Let me show you a slightly different example:

Du weißt, dass ich abends gern spazieren gehe.

In main clauses, the V2 rule requires you to move the stem of the conjugated verb to second position however:

Ich gehe abends gern spazieren.

See how this works? The conjugated verb is moved, everything else stays where it was.

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Note, that there is no separable verb »spazierengehen« since the orthographic reform of 1996. This separable verb used to exist before that year, but since 1996 it must be replaced by the two words »spazieren« and »gehen«.

  • before 1996:

    Ich möchte spazierengehen.

  • after 1996:

    Ich möchte spazieren gehen.

So, the modern usage is similar to »einkaufen gehen« which also is a combination of two verbs:

Ich möchte einkaufen gehen.

There never was a verb »einkaufengehen«, so »einkaufen gehen« was also the correct usage before 1996.

But you don't see any differences in situations where separable verbs must be separated:

  • in any year:

    Ich gehe spazieren.
    Ich gehe einkaufen.

This usage together with the infinite form of another verb is a special feature of the verb gehen. So, this works without the need to glue the two verbs together to one separable verb.


The rules for word oder are the always the same:

  1. The verb that is inflected must stand at position 2 in the main clause of a statement.
  2. Any other verb and any particle that is a prefix of a preferable verb (and therefore by itself is also verb-like in some manner) must stand at the end of the main clause.

From all other parts of speech, exactly one must stand at position 1, and anything else must be placed between the inflected verb at position 2 and all other verb-like words which must stand at the very end of the main clause. This is called »Satzklammer« or »Verbklammer« in German. English doesn't have this feature, so there is no established English term for it, but I would call it »verbal bracket«. Only if you want to emphasize a part of speech extremely strongly, it can be placed behind the last verb (or former prefix of a separable verb), but there are limitations.


These are allowed word orders for your sentence:

  1. Subject - opening part of the verbal bracket (inflected verb) - adverb (attribute of the predicate) - closing part of the verbal bracket (any verb-like word that is not inflected)

Ich gehe gern spazieren.

  1. Adverb (attribute of the predicate) - opening part of the verbal bracket (inflected verb) - subject - closing part of the verbal bracket (any verb-like word that is not inflected)

Gern gehe ich spazieren.

Word order 1 is the normal and preferred form. Word order 2 is another allowed form, it emphasizes the word »gern«.


Note, that in the example »ich möchte spazieren gehen« which I gave before, the word »möchte« does not squeeze between »spazieren« and »gehen« because »möchte« by itself is a verb, (a modal verb) and it is even the inflected verb, so it is the opening part of the verbal bracket. All other verbs (here: »spazieren« and »gehen«) belong to the closing part of the verbal bracket and must stand at the end of the sentence:

  • 2 verbs: gehen + infinite verb

    Ich gehe spazieren.
    Ich gehe am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren.

  • 3 verbs: modal verb + (infinite verb + gehen)

    Ich möchte spazieren gehen.
    Ich möchte am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren gehen.

  • 4 verbs: auxiliary verb + [(infinite verb + gehen) + modal verb]

    Ich werde spazieren gehen wollen.
    Ich werde am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren gehen wollen.


Translations:

  • Ich möchte spazieren gehen.
    I want to go for a walk.
  • Ich möchte einkaufen gehen.
    I want to go shopping.
  • Ich gehe spazieren.
    I go for a walk.
  • Ich gehe einkaufen.
    I go shopping.
  • Ich gehe gern spazieren.
    I like to go for walks.
  • Gern gehe ich spazieren.
    I like to go for walks. (In the sense of: I really love to go for walks.)
  • Ich gehe am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren.
    I finally go for a walk on Mother's Day with my mom, who I haven't seen in months.
  • Ich möchte am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren gehen.
    I want to finally go for a walk on Mother's Day with my mom, who I haven't seen in months.
  • Ich werde spazieren gehen wollen.
    I will want to go for a walk.
  • Ich werde am Muttertag mit meiner Mutter, die ich schon seit Monaten nicht mehr gesehen habe, endlich wieder mal spazieren gehen wollen.
    I will want to finally go for a walk on Mother's Day with my mom, who I haven't seen in months.

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