Is it possible that it has another grammatical role besides being a verb? For example, be an adjective, etc

1 Answer 1


Another possible word order is:

Ich muss nicht mehr arbeiten.

The word "muss" is the finite verb, the verb that is inflected according to person ("ich muss" but "wir müssen") and tense (present "ich muss", past "ich musste"). The verb "arbeiten" is an infinitive form.

The most important word order rule is that the finite verb is in second position. Other parts are more flexible. So indeed this is also possible:

Arbeiten muss ich nicht mehr.

This word order can be chosen to put the topic first: we first establish that we are talking about having to work and then supply the information that the speaker doesn't have to do that anymore.

But in both sentences "muss" is in second position.

  • 5
    This answer is complete and offers a good explanation of why it is valid grammar. I would, however, like to underscore that putting "Arbeiten" first as a style choice is a way of emphasizing it. You could think of it like an answer to a question. "Was musst du nicht mehr?" "Arbeiten muss ich nicht mehr." If the question were "Wie lange muss du noch arbeiten?" you might answer "Nicht mehr muss ich arbeiten." As Carsten says, this order puts the topic first, or in layman's terms, it emphasizes the important bit you want the listener to pay extra attention to.
    – Stuporman
    Dec 28, 2023 at 21:13
  • @Stuporman, I don’t actually agree that the emphasis is necessarily on the part that is in first position. I think it’s more complicated.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 29, 2023 at 12:28
  • You’re right, now that I think about it. In the original example, spoken emphasis would likely still be on the nicht. In any case, the semantic meaning is never changed with this pattern, so it is chosen to alter the point emphasis, albeit not as reliably on the first bit as I said originally. The subtlety and nuance to that is something best won through experience with competent speakers, so this should be thought of as a starting point rather than a complete understanding.
    – Stuporman
    Dec 30, 2023 at 15:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.