Normally the verbs take first position, the second or last position in sentences but here in the sentence below, the verbs hast and kannst are positioned next to each other separated with a comma, so why two verbs lernen and hast are at the end of first clause? I know that the whole dependent clause before kannst takes the first place and that's why kannst is at second. I'll appreciate your guidance.

Immer wenn du mal wieder gar keine Lust zum Lernen hast, kannst du einen Blick darauf werfen.

  • 1
    The already existng answers here and here (since the time of writing this comment) assumes that "Lernen" is already recognized as a noun. But maybe this is the problem here? "lernen" is a verb, but together with "zum" it is a noun (there was a nominalisation). The capitalization is also an indicator for this. The sentence "To have a desire to learn" becomes "Eine Lust zum Lernen haben". In both translations, "to have" or "haben" are the main verbs of the dependent clause (in German at the end).
    – colidyre
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 8:13
  • @colidyre: "lernen" may be (and in fact is) a Verb, but "das Lernen" (notice the article and the capitalization) is a Nomen. It is the same difference as "to learn" and "the learning" in English - a noun made from a verb is still a noun.
    – bakunin
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:41
  • @bakunin - yes, this is exactly the potential misunderstanding I wanted to highlight in my comment. ;)
    – colidyre
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


I take it that your question is "why is 'hast' at the end of first clause"? The simple answer is just that it is, as you noted, a dependent clause, and dependent clauses usually have the verb at the last position.

But what I think is confusing to you is that this dependent clause does not actually start with its conjunction "wenn" but with the adverb "immer" instead. Without "immer", the sentence would be

Wenn du mal wieder gar keine Lust zum Lernen hast, kannst du einen Blick darauf werfen.

and it should be clear that it's a "wenn" dependent clause, with the verb at the last position. So what's the "immer" doing there? Adverbs in German can sometimes combine with other adverbs or satzglieder, for example "auch" in

Auch ohne Lust kannst du einen Blick darauf werfen.

or "immer" in

Ich habe immer am Morgen keine Lust.

When it describes a dependent clause, German orthography dictates this adverb is considered part of the dependent clause. As not all adverbs make sense, and often form fixed combinations, some like to regard those words as a single conjunctions like "immer wenn", "auch wenn", "genau dann wenn".

"Immer wenn" is used here because with "wenn", it would be unclear if this is only for the first time "wenn du mal wieder gar keine Lust zum Lernen hast" or whenever "du mal wieder gar keine Lust zum Lernen hast".


There is a larger difference in the grammar of subordinating conjunctions vs. coordinating conjunctions in German compared to English. German changes the word order for subordinating conjunctions from V2 (verb second) to VL (verb last). So when a clause starts with "wenn", a subordinating conjunctions, the verb, "hast" in this case, moves to the end of the clause. Note that it moves to the end of the clause, not the end of the sentence. The "immer" is just modifying "wenn" so it doesn't affect this.

Clauses starting with a subordinating conjunction becomes a part of the main clause. As such they can go in front of the verb in the main clause (the Vorfeld), or after the main clause (the Nachfeld). Most sentence elements go in the middle part (the Mittelfeld). But with long, complex sentence elements such as a subordinate clause is better to avoid that; the different parts of the verb are already far enough apart being at different ends of the clause. When a subordinating clause goes in front of the verb, it uses up the first position slot, so the subject or anything else that might be there must be moved after the verb. It might help to see what happens if you shortened the subordinate clause to a single word "immer". This can go before the verb "Immer kannst du einen Blick darauf werfen" or after "Du kannst immer einen Blick darauf werfen." In this case it's a single word so it would not be placed at the end of the sentence. Changing "immer" back to a sub subordinate clause it can go at the end: "Du kannst einen Blick darauf werfen, wenn du keine Lust zum Lernen hast." It may seem like the main clause is starting with the verb when the subclause goes first, but the subclause is part of the main clause and it still counts as a sentence element in first position in the main clause.

On the other hand, clauses starting with a coordinating conjunction have no change in word order and do not become part of the main clause, so the main clause needs another sentence element to take first position. In fact, a coordinate clause must come after the main clause. (Usually. The exception is when the sentence is actually a continuation of the previous sentence. This is a feature of English as well, and you may notice that I make use of that exception myself.) The conjunction itself does not count as a sentence element for the purposes of the V2 rule, so there must be something between the conjunction and the verb. If you change "wenn" to "denn", a coordinating conjunction, it would have to go "Du kannst einen Blick darauf werfen, denn du hast keine Lust zum Lernen." (I'm not claiming this makes any sense in terms of meaning; it's just an example.)

Another thing that's going on here is that the main clause uses a modal verb. So the verb phrase is "hast ... werfen". The modal part is finite and goes in the V2 position, and the main part is infinite and goes near the end. The two parts of the verb form the brackets (Klammer) that separate the three Felder in the anatomy of the sentence. Normally the Nachfeld is empty, so the second part of the verb is actually at the end. (See Feldermodell des deutschen Satzes in German Wikipedia for more details about the three Felder. There is no English version of the page but you can run it through a translator if needed.)


Immer wenn du mal wieder gar keine Lust zum Lernen hast, kannst du einen Blick darauf werfen.

so why two verbs lernen and hast are at the end of first clause?

That Lernen in the piece zum Lernen isn't a verb at all. It's a nominalized infinitive, a noun. In writing you can tell this easily because all nouns are capitalized in German. Even nouns that are made from verbs or adjectives.

Here, it's combined with the preposition zu into a modal adverbial. That adverbial is part of the phrase Lust zu etwas haben — to have a desire for something.

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