German Sentence Structure

Although modern German shares a common ancestor with modern English, German sentence structure has developed a series of complexities and inversions that make it unique among Indo-European languages. A simple sentence is formed in the following way: subject + conjugated verb + object. If the verb in question has a separable prefix, such as "am-," "um-," or "A?ber-," the prefix is shifted to the end of the sentence. For example, one simple sentence might read, "Wir verlassen den Raum," which means, "We leave the room." Another example, which includes a separable prefix, is, "Ich werfe den MA?ll weg," or, "I dispose of the trash," in which the prefix "weg-" from the verb "wegwerfen" has been shifted to the end of the sentence. However, German sentence structure can grow much more complex.


German sentence structure can vary based on a number of different variables. Although German verbs tend to fall after the subjects, towards the ends of sentences, it is possible in certain situations to invert the sentence order. Writers or speakers can do this for several reasons, including what the desired emphasis should be. The writer takes the clause or phrase that he or she wants to emphasize and puts it at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the conjugated verb, and finally, the subject and the rest of the sentence. This inverted world order indicates that the most important part of the sentence is its lead. Much like in English, writers can play around with the order of their words within German sentence structure in order to achieve a desired emphasis or effect within a sentence.


Another type of German sentence structure is the question, which is subdivided into a number of different categories: inquiries about the details of a statement, the truthfulness of a statement, and yes or no questions. Asking a specific question requires a similar kind of inversion as the one described above. When asking a yes or no question, the verb is shifted to the beginning of the sentence, but the rest of the word order remains unchanged. Imperatives are also phrased in a similar way. The verb, which is conjugated in the imperative mood, begins the sentence, and then the appropriate pronoun follows.

Subordinate Clause

Using German sentence structure, subordinate clauses are treated as part of the main sentence, and are introduced by subordinating conjunctions. Within the subordinate clause, the word order is as follows: subordinating conjunction + subject of clause + conjugated verb. In these cases, the verb appears at the end of the subordinate clause. As in English, subordinate clauses can be placed at the beginnings or at the ends of sentences, with the provision that the sentence must contain at least one independent clause. Without this, the sentence is a fragment, and grammatically incorrect.

German sentence structure is extremely versatile and adapdiv, so long as the writer or speaker observes its rules.


No Free Email Accounts