53 votes
Accepted

Is German a VO language or an OV language?

English is a SVO language. SVO means: Subject, Verb, Object(s) in exactly this order. But English is the only Germanic language with this word order. German and all other Germanic languages (Dutch, ...
36 votes

How do German speakers decide what should be on the left side of the verb?

In English the topicalisation of declarative clauses is facultative, the subject is in first position, and there may be an additional item in front of it. While in German, declarative clauses are ...
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33 votes
Accepted

Use of the verb "bauen" without the preposition "an"

Both expressions generally mean the same, with a slight difference: Wir bauen diese Schule seit einem Jahr clearly states that the school was built from the ground up, that is, there was nothing ...
  • 59.8k
30 votes

Confusion with seinem and two masculine nouns in the same sentence

Yes, the sentence indeed is ambiguous, but no, this is not an issue at all. In fact, most sentences in most languages are in (partly) ambiguous. Our brains just automatically resolve most of these ...
  • 3,022
26 votes

Can a German sentence have two subjects?

Short answer: No Long answer: These are the parts of this sentence: die Wahrnehmung von Gerüchen Subjekt (subject) Note, that neither Wahrnehmung nor Gerüchen are subjects. The whole nominal group ...
24 votes
Accepted

Mein Leipzig lob' ich mir!

Two things to note here. First, reflexives can be added freely to verbs no matter what their verb frame definition says. The construction is typically something like this: Komm mir nicht zu spät nach ...
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22 votes
Accepted

The shortest legal German sentence

The answer to your question depends on what a sentence is. But this is not really clear. Wikipedia claims that there are about 200 different definitions of what a grammatical sentence is. So you ...
21 votes
Accepted

Confusion with seinem and two masculine nouns in the same sentence

You're right, both can be meant, son or plaster. Use »dessen« to remove the ambiguity. Plötzlich wollte mein Sohn aber doch den Gips vor dessen Untergang bewahren. Now it's clear that »dessen« ...
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20 votes
Accepted

“To not know if…” construct in German

First, your example would be translated as “Ich weiß, dass du gut tanzt” (verb in the end in a dass… sub clause). If you want to express doubt about something, you put the nicht with the weiß, just ...
  • 9,104
19 votes

“To not know if…” construct in German

The general form in German is Ich weiß, dass ... The opposite would be Ich weiß nicht, ob ... I'm going to elaborate on the comment I gave yesterday a bit to make clearer why wenn is not an ...
19 votes

The shortest legal German sentence

If it is about the shorteness, imperative works: Geh! If number of characters matter, tu, üb, sä, iß (alt.) would optimize your request (as remarked by Wrzlprmft).
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18 votes

Difference between "weil" and "denn"

Here is a helpful example of when you can use "denn" but "weil" doesn't really make sense: Er muss müde sein, denn er trinkt viel Kaffee. "He must be tired, because / seeing as he is drinking a ...
  • 181
18 votes

Does deswegen have another meaning than "that is why"?

The sentence has a slightly different meaning from what you thought. Ich mache Ihnen deswegen keine Vorwürfe. means something like I'm not accusing / reproaching you because of that. The ...
17 votes

What are the syntactical parts of “Ich bin ein Berliner”?

ein Berliner is in Nominativ since it is a Gleichsetzungsnominativ (predicate noun). You don’t ask Wen oder was bin ich? but instead you do ask Wer oder was bin ich? Have a look at ...
17 votes
Accepted

Is it okay for two “sein” to be next to each other?

I would probably avoid the long subordinate clause within the first subordinate clause, and say Weil Einkaufszentren eines von wenigen Dingen sind, die das Leben auf dem Land weniger langweilig ...
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16 votes

Is German a VO language or an OV language?

In main clauses, German uses V2 (the verb is on second position), and that means VO most of the time. German (V2 -> VO): Julia ruft den Hund. English (VO): Julia calls the dog. Latin (OV): Iulia ...
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16 votes
Accepted

What's the meaning of "Man weiß halt gefühlt nichts"?

I'm just a native speaker, I'll try: The former. Although I would translate it to "It's like one knows nothing". For the sake of simplicity, we can ignore "halt" (simply). "...
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15 votes
Accepted

Translate "by" in German

Your assumption is wrong. You can't interchange the words "by, with, via, through" in English The mailbox is with via through by the bus stop. Be back with via through by ten o'clock!. ...
15 votes
Accepted

When is it justified to drop 'es' in a sentence?

"Es" as a subject replacement (Expletivum) can generally be dropped from a sentence when it can be ensured otherwise that the verb is in the second (logical) position. German, unlike many ...
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14 votes

The grammar about "Du bist der eine"

Eine is the indefinite article but also a count »one«, you have to add a matching noun in your thoughts: Du bist der eine, der immer schwierige Fragen stellt. Du bist der eine Mensch, der immer ...
  • 48.8k
14 votes
Accepted

Does "Was machen Sie?" have the greeting meaning of "What do you do"?

No "Was machen sie?" simply means What are they doing? And "Was machen Sie?" means What are you doing? Note the difference between "sie" (they) and "Sie" (you). Side note: "Was macht sie?" (...
14 votes
Accepted

Why does "zu" come at the beginning of the sentence?

In German, what number and type of objects a verb needs has to be learned. There are two relevant meanings of passen here, DWDS 1a and 1b. The first states that a piece of clothing fits somebody with ...
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14 votes

What's the meaning of "Man weiß halt gefühlt nichts"?

Maybe you've heard about the gefühlte Temperatur, or in English the apparent temperature: The temperature that humans perceive can be different from the temperature objectively measured by a ...
13 votes
Accepted

Is "Das ist ärgerlich" correct?

That's a shame / What a shame / It's a shame are fixed phrases that are translated to Das ist schade / Wie schade! or "Das ist aber schade!" / es ist schade . What a shame could also be ...
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13 votes
Accepted

Options for saying, "my number is"

Meine Nummer ist is indeed used quite often in German and not an "English" term at all. So if you would like to stick with your relative clause construct, it would be Meine Nummer, an die Sie die ...
  • 8,960
13 votes
Accepted

Verb at the first position in "regular" sentences

To comment your examples directly: Hast du ... gemacht? Ja, habe ich. Here the answer is just a short form of "Ja, (das) habe ich( gemacht)." and is used just for shortness in everyday language. ...
  • 608
12 votes

Difference between "weil" and "denn"

The same distinction exists between for/because in English. "Denn" corresponds exactly in function and meaning to the archaic English conjunction "for", which was common in early ...
  • 221
12 votes
Accepted

"gern" and "nicht gern" position

Think differently: It's not about placing gern "on either side" of the object, the basic rule is that adverbs that modify other parts of the sentence ("nicht", "auch", ...) are placed directly in ...
  • 6,976
12 votes

Two questions on one sentence from »Der Spiegel«

With different word order: Die Bundesregierung kann nicht ganz sicher sein, dass sie einen Auftritt Erdogans in Deutschland verhindern kann. The sie refers to die Bundesregierung. I hope that this ...
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12 votes
Accepted

What construct is “zu tun ist”?

"Ist" is the verb (more precisely, the finite verb) of the subordinate clause. Because it is a subordinate clause, the verb has to be at the end. Es ist zu tun. "It has to be done.&...
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