It's my first appearance over here, I've just taken up learning German, and I've come across with a bit of problem with a phrase:

Das macht er immer.

That can be translated as "He does that every time," or "He's always doing that," From what I know about German phrase collocation this one could be written as follows:

Er macht es immer.
Immer macht er es.

The question is about the article at the beginning of the phrase, what is the thing behind that collocation? I know this likely could be a bit of a silly question but I don't understand the way it is formed.

  • 1
    Actually, there's no article at all. "Das" and "es" are pronouns (referring to something mentioned before). – Em1 Dec 3 '13 at 7:44
  • Is your question about the "das" being at the beginning of the sentence or about the "das" as opposed to "es"? – Emanuel Dec 3 '13 at 12:11
  • @Em1, yes you're right, my mistake, and Emanuel, it's about the dasat the beginning – Diego Jimeno Dec 3 '13 at 12:14

Your second version doesn't sounds right to me as a native speaker. If you continued it with an adjective it would be OK (e.g., "Immer macht er es falsch."), but as is it doesn't seem to be a valid sentence.

As for your original phrase, your first interpretation is the right one (he does that every time). The second one would be "das macht er die ganze Zeit" or similar. "Immer" here refers to every instance to always as in the whole time.


What "Das" refers to here depends on the context. There seems to be a thing he does every time. The "das" refers to that. Imagine a dialog: A says: "Your husband is so nice, he was holding the door for me.", B: "Das macht er immer." (Das = holding the door).

  • 1
    If "Er macht es immer" is correct in your mind, then "Immer macht er es" is also correct. And indeed, it's a valid German sentence. Admittedly, its appearance is quite rare and most likely only said by a child who's complaining about something which someone else continually does. – Em1 Dec 3 '13 at 7:36
  • "Immer macht er es" is a correct sentence and may be abit uncommon, but does not sound wrong to me. Take for instance "Er macht es jede Woche, jeden Tag, jede Stunde. Immer macht er es." – jonathan.scholbach Mar 13 '17 at 14:36
  • Odd. To me this sounds quite funny. In your example I would say "Staendig macht er es." but even then I would much prefer "Er macht es staendig". To me, "immer" refers to a set of instances in all of which something applies -- it is not the same as "all the time", it's more like "every time". – Christian Fritz Mar 13 '17 at 17:54

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