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53 votes
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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, ...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
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 ...
Janka's user avatar
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33 votes
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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 ...
tofro's user avatar
  • 65k
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 ...
Annatar's user avatar
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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 ...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
24 votes
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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 ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
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22 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 Nominativ on ...
Ralle Kalle's user avatar
22 votes
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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 ...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
21 votes
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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« ...
Pollitzer's user avatar
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20 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 ...
gijugee's user avatar
  • 301
20 votes
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“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 ...
Robert's user avatar
  • 9,164
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 ...
Thorsten Dittmar's user avatar
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).
c.p.'s user avatar
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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 ...
Henning Kockerbeck's user avatar
17 votes
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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 ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 10.7k
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 ...
HalvarF's user avatar
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16 votes
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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). "...
Kobrabiss's user avatar
  • 196
15 votes
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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!. ...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
15 votes
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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 ...
tofro's user avatar
  • 65k
14 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 ...
William's user avatar
  • 241
14 votes
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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. ...
Thoran's user avatar
  • 618
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 ...
Janka's user avatar
  • 61k
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?" (...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
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 ...
David Vogt's user avatar
  • 26.5k
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 ...
Henning Kockerbeck's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Why is the verb in the first position here?

This is not a verb. It is a noun: Das Laufen. (English: the running.) But it's a special kind of noun. It's a nominalized verb. (German: Substantiviertes Verb). But this term is misleading. A better ...
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
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 ...
Iris's user avatar
  • 8,547
13 votes
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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 ...
Tode's user avatar
  • 9,598
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 ...
Carsten S's user avatar
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12 votes
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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.&...
RHa's user avatar
  • 15.9k

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