Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Every German noun is assigned one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. Unlike English, which does not assign a gender to most nouns, the gender of a German noun and the gender of the thing to which the noun refers often differ. For example, in German, a stone (der Stein) is masculine, whereas a girl (das Mädchen) is neuter. It may appear strange to English native speakers, but the gender of a noun mainly depends on its nominative ending, not on its real sex. This is called "grammatical gender" and most languages such as French also feature it, sometimes with surprising traps ("la guerre"). "Mädchen", for example, is the diminutive form of an archaic feminine German noun die Maid, which meant "young woman", and diminutives ending in -chen always take the neutral gender. (The masculine equivalent of die Maid is der Junge ("young man"), and is still in common use with meaning equivalent to "guy, kid, bloke, lad, fellow". Its equivalent diminutive is the neutral das Jüngelchen, which implies the connotations of "sissy wimp".)
The German language has the singular and plural numbers.
The cases are the nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. The genitive case is becoming uncommon in modern informal speech. The case of a particular noun, and therefore the ending used for the noun, depends on the grammatical function of the noun in the sentence.
It is important to note that the inflected form of an adjective not only depends on its gender, but also on the kind of article used (or not used) with it, definite or indefinite.
Nominal (or Noun) Phrases
(The content of this section is not yet applicable for proper names.)
A German nominal phrase, in general, consists of the following components in the following order:
article, [cardinal number], [adjective(s)], [noun], [genitive attribute], [position(s)], [relative clause] [reflexive pronoun]
- "Die dritte umwerfende Vorstellung des Schillerdramas in dieser Woche in Bonn"
- (the third staggering performance of the drama by Schiller this week in Bonn)
Of course, in most cases you won't be confronted with such complicated phrases; adjectives, cardinal numbers, genitive attributes, positions, relative clauses and emphasizers are always optional.
A nominal phrase contains at least a cardinal number, an adjective, a pronoun, or a noun. It always has an article, except if it is an indefinite plural noun or refers to an uncountable mass.
- "Die Drei" (the three of them)
- "Der Große" (the tall man)
- "Der Mann" (the man)
If the noun is uncountable, you should not use an article; otherwise, you will change the meaning of the sentence.
- "Ich kaufe billiges Bier" (I buy some cheap beer)
- "Ich kaufe ein billiges Bier" (I buy a cheap bottle or a certain cheap sort of beer)
- "Ich habe Geld" (I have (a lot of) money)
- "Ich habe das Geld" (I have this (much) money) or (I have enough money to...)
A nominal phrase can be regarded a single unit. It has a case, a number, and a gender. Case and number depend on the context, whereas the gender is determined by the main noun.
The word "selbst" or "selber" may be added in order to emphasize to the nominal phrase, but this is becoming increasingly uncommon in spoken German.
- "Der Chef selbst hat ihn gefeuert" (the boss fired him personally)
The genitive attribute
A nominal phrase may have a genitive phrase, for example to express possession. This genitive attribute may be seen as merely another nominal phrase in the genitive case which may hang off another nominal phrase.
- "Der Beruf des alten Mannes" (The old man's profession)
- "Die Hütte des Häuptlings des Stammes"
- (genitive phrase has its own genitive phrase). This is uncommon in modern German, one would say: "Die Hütte des Stammeshäuptlings" (The hut of the tribe's chief)
In old German, the "genitive attribute" can be a possessive pronoun put into plural form. In modern German, this is uncommon; the corresponding possessive pronoun is used instead.
- OLD: "Die Gnade seiner" (his honour)
A nominal phrase may contain a "position phrase"; this may be seen as merely another nominal phrase with a preposition (or postposition) or a pronominal adverb (See German grammar#Adverbial phrases).
- "Eine Wolke am Himmel" (a cloud in the sky)
- "Der Bundeskanzler während des Bürgerkriegs im Kongo" (the Chancellor during the civil war in the Congo)
- (position phrase has its own position phrase)
- (position phrase has its own position phrase)
- "Der Regen im Dschungel im Sommer" (the rain in the jungle in the summer)(Several position phrases)
- "Der Berg dort" (that hill over there)
A nominal phrase often will have a relative clause.
A German noun has one of 3 specific grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and belongs to one of three declensions. These features remain unaltered by inflection but must be considered in this process. The grammatical gender influences articles, adjectives and pronouns. Note that gender and sex differ in many cases, as mentioned above.
Number (singular, plural) and case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive) must be taken into account in the process of declension.
The declension can be more difficult than in other languages such as Latin; not only the word ending, but also the root may be altered by inflecting.
- "Der Mann" - "Die Männer"
Some nouns only have a singular form (Singularetanta); other nouns only have a plural form (Pluraletanta)
- "Das All", "Der Durst", "der Sand" (space, thirst, sand)
- "Die Kosten", "die Ferien" (costs, the holidays)
Traps abound in both directions here; common singular-only words in English aren't in German, and vice versa:
- information = "Information", "die Information" (one tidbit of information)
"die Informationen" (the pieces of information)
- the police = "die Polizei"
Some words change their meaning when changing their number
- Geld (English, "money") - Gelder (English, "different sources of money")
- Käse (cheese) - die Käse (different kinds of cheese)
Types of declensions
General rules of declension
- Given the nominative singular, genitive singular, and nominative plural of a noun, it is possible to determine its declension.
- Note that in all feminine nouns, the singular form remains unchanged.
- The dative plural of all nouns ends in -n, if such an ending does not already exist.
-(e)s, -e der Berg, des Berg(e)s, die Berge Nom. Acc. Dat. Gen. -0- -0- -(e) -(e)s -e -e -en -e -(e)s, -er das Bild, des Bild(e)s, die Bilder -0- -0- -(e) -(e)s -er -er -ern -er -(e)s, -en der Staat, des Staat(e)s, die Staaten -0- -0- -(e) -(e)s -en -en -en -en -s, -0- der Fahrer, des Fahrers, die Fahrer -0- -0- -0- -s -0- -0- -(n) -0- -s, -e der Lehrling, des Lehrlings, die Lehrlinge -0- -0- -0- -s -e -e -en -e -s, -s das Radio, des Radios, die Radios -0- -0- -0- -s -s -s -s -s -en, -en der Student, des Studenten, die Studenten -0- -en -en -en -en -en -en -en -0-, -0- die Mutter, der Mutter, die Mütter -0- -0- -0- -0- -0- -0- -(n) -0- -0-, -en die Meinung, der Meinung, die Meinungen -0- -0- -0- -0- -en -en -en -en -0-, -e die Kraft, der Kraft, die Kräfte -0- -0- -0- -0- -e -e -en -e -0-, -s die Gang, der Gang, die Gangs -0- -0- -0- -0- -s -s -s -s -(e)ns, -(e)n der Name, des Namens, die Namen -0- -(e)n -(e)n -(e)ns -(e)n -(e)n -(e)n -(e)n
Singular Plural Nominative der Herr die Herren Accusative den Herrn die Herren Dative dem Herrn den Herren Genitive des Herrn der Herren
Singular Plural Nominative das Herz die Herzen Accusative das Herz die Herzen Dative dem Herz(en) den Herzen Genitive des Herzens der Herzen
Many foreign nouns have irregular plurals, for example:
-s, -en das Thema, des Themas, die Themen -0-, -en der Kommunismus, des Kommunismus, (die Kommunismen) -s, PL das Thema, des Themas, die Themata -0-, PL der Uterus, des Uterus, die Uteri
Articles and article-like words
Articles have a feature called "strength", which influences the declension of the adjectives. There are strong articles, weak articles, and articles that have strong and weak cases. Sometimes this feature is not constant in daily use.
The inflected forms depend on the number, the case and the gender of the corresponding noun. Articles have the same plural forms for all three genders.
Indefinite article endings (mixed)
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative -0- -0- -e -e Accusative -en -0- -e -e Dative -em -em -er -en Genitive -es -es -er -er
- This table declines the indefinite article (mixed) (ein-), the negative indefinite article (mixed) (kein-), and the possessive pronouns (mixed) (mein-, dein-, sein-, ihr-, unser-, euer/eur-).
- The indefinite article doesn't have a specific plural form (like English, but unlike Italian); there are several article words for this need. In most cases, however, these plural forms are left out. This is quite similar to English.
Definite article (strong)
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative der das die die Accusative den das die die Dative dem dem der den Genitive des des der der
Definite article endings (strong)
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative -er -es -e -e Accusative -en -es -e -e Dative -em -em -er -en Genitive -es -es -er -er
- Note that this is essentially the same as the indefinite article table, but with the masculine nominative -er and the neuter nominative and accusative -es.
- This table declines the demonstrative pronouns (dies-, jen-) (this, that; strong) and the relative pronoun (welch-) (which; strong)
Possessive "article-like" pronouns
Under some circumstances the regular possessive pronouns are replaced by the genitive forms of the pronouns derived from the definite article. They agree in number and gender with the possessor. Unlike other pronouns they carry no strength. Any adjective following them in the phrase will carry the strong endings.
There are possessive pronouns derived from the definite article and derived from the interrogative article. They have the same forms for all cases of the possessed word, but they are only rarely used in the genitive case.
Definite possessive [of the] (mixed)
- Masculine: dessen
- Neuter: dessen
- Feminine: deren
- Plural: deren
Interrogative possessive [of what] (mixed)
- Masculine: wessen
- Neuter: wessen
- Feminine: wessen
- Plural: wessen
- NOT: Die Soldaten dessen Armee
In a rather ancient type of German, spoken until the 18th century, a genitive noun can be used instead of a possessive pronoun.
- OLD: "Des Königs Krone" (The king's crown)
- (MODERN: "Die Krone des Königs" - BUT: "Die Königskrone" (compound noun))
These pronouns are used if using the ordinary possessive pronoun is understood reflexively, or there are several possessors.
Cardinal numbers are always placed before any adjectives. If the number is not very high, it is usually not combined with an indefinite plural article like "einige" or "mehrere". Personal pronouns of the first and second person are placed in front of numbers. Personal pronouns of the third person cannot be used with numbers.
- "Drei Hunde" (three dogs)
- "Die vier apokalyptischen Reiter" (the four horsemen of the Apocolypse)
- NOT: "Einige fünf Äpfel" BUT: "Einige Äpfel" or "Fünf Äpfel" (some apples, five apples)
- "Ein paar tausend Euro" (a couple of thousand euro)
- "Wir vier" (the four of us)
If you use a cardinal number, you must use the plural form of the nominal phrase, in contrast to languages like Turkish.
- NOT: "Zehn Pferd" (turk. "On At")
- BUT: "Zehn Pferde" (ten horses)
- EXCEPTION: "Zehn Bier", "Zehn Biere" (both possible in some cases like drinks)
Whereas there is a cardinal number meaning "one" in English, Germans use the indefinite article instead. The difference is expressed by the intonation.
- "Ein rotes Buch" can mean
- "a red book": ein rotes Buch; or
- "one red book": ein rotes Buch
The numbers zwei (two) and drei (three) have endings for case in some cases. Where an adjective would have weak endings, numbers don't have endings. If an adjective had strong endings, these numbers may also have strong endings in the genitive case
- "das Haus zweier junger Frauen" (two young women's house)
If there is no other word carrying the strong ending of the genitive plural, the numbers must carry it.
- "die Reise dreier Schwestern" (three sisters' voyage)
If these numbers are centre of a nominal phrase in the dative plural and no other word carries case markers, they may carry dative endings.
- "Ich habe zweien Bananen gegeben" (I've given bananas to two (of them))
For the inflection of adjectives, the case, number and gender of the nominal phrase must be considered along with the article of the noun.
Like articles, adjectives use the same plural endings for all three genders.
- "Ein lauter Krach" (a loud noise)
- "Der laute Krach" (the loud noise)
- "Der große, schöne Mond" (the big, beautiful moon)
Participles may be used as adjectives and are treated in the same way.
In contrast to Latin, adjectives are only declined in the attributive position (that is, when used in nominal phrases to describe a noun directly). Predicative adjectives are not declined and are indistinguishable from adverbs.
- NOT: "Die Musik ist laute" BUT "Die Musik ist laut" ((the) music is loud)
There are three degrees of comparison: positive form, comparative form and superlative form. In contrast to Latin or Italian, there is no grammatical feature for the absolute superlative (elative).
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative -er -es -e -e Accusative -en -es -e -e Dative -em -em -er -en Genitive -en -en -er -er
- Compare this table with the definite article endings table. The only difference is the masculine and neuter genitive -en.
Strong inflection is used:
- When no article is used
- After manch- (some), solch- (such), viel- (much; many), welch- (which), which have definite article declination.
- After etwas (some; somewhat), mehr (more)
- After wenig- (few), mehrer- (several; many), all- (all), which also have strong adjective inflection.
- After personal pronouns other than mir, dir, ihm
- After number adjectives with no endings
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative -e -e -e -en Accusative -en -e -e -en Dative -en -en -en -en Genitive -en -en -en -en
Weak inflection is used:
- After the definite article
- After derselb- (the same), derjenig- (the one)
- After dies- (this), jen- (that), jeglich- (any), jed- (every), which have definite article declination.
- After mir, dir, ihm
- After arm (meagre), alt (old), all (all)
The mixed inflection is used after ein-, kein-, and the possessive articles.
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative -er -es -e -en Accusative -en -es -e -en Dative -en -en -en -en Genitive -en -en -en -en
Criteria for inflection
This topic is complex, and this section is still under construction
Strong inflection: If there is no article at all or if the noun is preceded by non-inflectable words like "ein bißchen", "etwas" or "viel" (a little, some, a lot of).
Weak inflection: If the article is inflected, for example the definite article. The definite article may hide by melting together with a preposition.
Mixed Inflection: Actually it is not a separate inflection. It is used when the same article may have an inflected ending in one case, but not in another case.
The endings are applicable to every degree of comparison.
The positive form
The uninflected basic positive form is equal to the root of the adjective. So the positive form of the adjective is quite simple to build, you take the stem of the adjective and attach the corresponding ending to it.
- "schön" (basic positive form)
- "Das schöne Lied" (The beautiful song)
The comparative form
The basic comparative form consists of the stem and the suffix "-er". Inflected, the corresponding adjective ending is attached.
- "schöner" (basic comparative form)
- "Das schönere Lied" (The more beautiful song)
The superlative form
This basic form is little bit more complicated. You attach the suffixes "-st" and "-en" to the root, and the word "am" is put before it.
- "am schönsten" (basic superlative form) (the most beautiful)
When inflecting the basic superlative form, you remove the "am" and the suffix "en". Then you add the conventional adjective ending.
- "Das schönste Lied"
Pronouns of the first person refer to the speaker; those of the second person refer to an addressed person. The pronouns of the third person may be used to replace nominal phrases. These have the same gender, number and case as the original nominal phrase. This goes for other pronouns, too.
pronoun [position(s)] [selber|selbst] [relative clause]
In German, a pronoun may have a position under certain circumstances. First and second person pronouns usually do not, except in poetical or informal contexts.
- "Es im Schrank" (the thing in the cupboard)
- "Das auf dem Tisch" (the thing on the table)
In the German of today, pronouns are rarely used in the genitive case. Instead, a German user usually uses the corresponding possessive article (see German grammar#The genitive attribute).
- "Der Knochen des Hundes" - "Sein Knochen" or "Dessen Knochen" (the dog's bone, its bone)
In formal, archaic German, there are genitive objects, just like accusative and dative objects. Since the personal pronoun does not have a genitive form, the third person genitive plural of the possessive pronoun is applied in those cases. These forms are bracketed.
- OLD: "Ich erinnere mich ihrer" (MODERN: "Ich erinnere mich an sie.") (I remember her)
- OLD: "Ich erinnere mich seiner" (MODERN: "Ich erinnere mich an ihn.")
- OLD: "Ich entsinne mich derer" (Don't use this) (I recall her)
The emphasizers "selber" and "selbst" have a slightly different meaning than if used with nominal phrases. They normally emphasize the pronoun, but if they are applied to a reflexive pronoun, they emphasize its reflexive meaning.
- Nominative: ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie
- Accusative: mich, dich, ihn, sie, es, uns, euch, sie
- Dative: mir, dir, ihm, ihr, ihm, uns, euch, ihnen
- Genitive: mein(er), dein(er), sein(er), ihr(er), sein(er), unser, euer, ihrer
- "Ich rufe den Hund" - "Ich rufe ihn" (I call the dog - I call it)
The third person plural is used for formal speaking; it can address a single person (then capitalized in written German) as well as multiple persons.
- "Ich grüße Sie" (Nice to see you - literally: I greet you)
Pronouns derived from articles
To replace a nominal by a pronoun that is derived from an article, you use the declined form corresponding to the gender, case and number of the nominal phrase. Note that these pronouns do not have a genitive case; instead, you use a possessive article with the corresponding noun.
Although the pronoun form and the article form are the same in most cases, there are sometimes differences.
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural Nominative der das die die Accusative den das die die Dative dem dem der denen Genitive dessen dessen deren derer
There are also reflexive pronouns for the dative case and the accusative case. In the first and second person, they are the same as the normal pronouns, but they only become visible in the third person singular and plural. The third person reflexive pronoun for both plural and singular is: "sich":
- "Er liebt sich" (He loves himself)
- "Sie verstecken sich" (They hide)
Reflexive pronouns can be used not only for personal pronouns:
- "Sie hat sich ein Bild gekauft" (She bought herself a picture)
- "Seiner ist schon kaputt" (His is already broken)
A pronoun may have a relative clause under certain circumstances that still are to be explained. (See relative clauses).
Demonstrative pronouns are used to refer to something already defined.
diese (this, the former) jene (that, the latter) erstere (the former)
- Use ersterer to refer to masculine nouns; erstere otherwise
letztere (the latter)
- Use letzterer to refer to masculine nouns; letztere otherwise
derjenige (the one)
- Declined like [def. art] + [jenig-] + weak adj. ending
- Used to identify a noun to be further identified in a relative clause.
derselbe (the same)
- Declined like [def. art] + [selb-] + weak adj. ending
- Used to indicate an identity stronger than der gleiche would.
Many adverbs are not derived from an adjective. Often they have very important meanings. For example, "nicht", "leider" or "gerne". (not, unfortunately, happily.)
Accusative nouns with adverbial meaning
You can express the duration or the spatial extent of an action by a nominal expression in the accusative case.
"Das Kind malte den ganzen Weg über Bilder" (The child painted pictures all the way)
Adverbial forms of adjectives
Adverbs are rather simple to form, at least in comparison to other languages. An adverb is simply the uninflected form of the adjective (or participle). This holds for the positive, comparative and superlative forms.
- "schnell" (fast, quickly)
- "groß" (big, substantially)
- "fließend" (fluent, fluently)
- "schneller" (faster, more quickly)
- "am schönsten" (most beautiful, most beautifully)
- "fließender" (more fluent, more fluently)
The adverb can be used to
- describe actions
- describe adjectives
- describe other adverbs
Comparative and superlative forms are unusual in the last two situations.
- "Der Vogel fliegt schnell" (the bird flies fast)
- "Der Vogel fliegt am schnellsten" (the bird flies the fastest)
- "Der schrecklich hohe Berg." (the awfully high mountain) is different from "Der schreckliche, hohe Berg"
- "Ein schrecklich langsam wachsender Baum" (a terribly slow-growing tree)
- "Ein schneller wachsender Baum" (a faster-growing tree)
A prepositional phrase consists of a nominal phrase and a preposition or postposition. The case of the nominal phrase depends on the pre- or postposition and sometimes on its exact meaning. There are several ways to replace a position by another construction with the equivalent meaning.
- "In dem Haus" (=Im Haus) (dative case) (inside the house)
- "In das Haus" (=Ins Haus) (accusative case) (into the house)
- "der Ehre wegen" (for the cause of honour)
Note that prepositions do not always have a locative meaning; they can also be modal or temporal adverbs, for example.
Prepositional phrases, being adverbial, may be used to describe actions and adjectives. They can also be attributes of a nominal phrase.
- "Ich gehe in das Haus" (I go into the house)
- "(Eis ist) während der Sommerzeit begehrt" (ice-cream is much sought-after in the summertime)
In some cases, the preposition and the article of the nominal phrase may or must elide together. This is similar to Italian.
- NOT "von dem Himmel" BUT "vom Himmel"
A real position can be substituted by a pronominal adverb.
- "auf dem Tisch" - "darauf" (on the table - on there)
- "auf den Berg hinauf" - "dort hinauf" (up the mountain - up there )
- "während der Schulstunde" - "währenddessen" (during the lesson - during it)
- "der Gerechtigkeit wegen" - "deswegen" (because of justice - because of it)
- "mit dem Flugzeug" - "damit" (by plane - by it)
Pronominal adverbs may be precified by an adverbial clause. See below.
Besides prepositional phrases and pronominal adverbs, there are also adverbial clauses. They can be applied to actions as well as to nominal phrases and pronominal adverbs.
- "Ich ging nach Hause, während die Sonne unterging" (I went home as the sun was setting)
- "damals" - "damals, als/während Helmut Kohl Bundeskanzler war" (in those days, when/while Helmut Kohl was chancellor)
- "in jenem Jahr" - "in jenem Jahr, als/während Helmut Kohl Bundeskanzler war" (in that year, when/while Helmut Kohl was chancellor)
You can replace a position or pronominal adverb by such a sentence completely, too. (The previous sentence needs to be clarified by someone knowledgeable)
- "als Willy Brandt Bundeskanzler war" INSTEAD OF "damals, als Willy Brandt Bundeskanzler war" (when Willy Brandt was chancellor / in those days when Willy Brandt was chancellor)
- "wo die Sonne scheint" INSTEAD OF "am Himmel, wo die Sonne scheint" (where the sun shines / in the sky, where the sun shines)
German verbs may be classified as either weak, with a dental inflection, or strong, showing a vowel gradation (ablaut). Both of these are regular systems. Most verbs of both types are regular, though various subgroups and anomalies do arise. The only completely irregular verb in the language is "sein" (to be). However, textbooks for foreign learners often class all strong verbs as irregular. There are less than 200 strong and irregular verbs, and there is a gradual tendency for strong verbs to become weak.
The infinitive consists of the root and usually the suffix "-en". There are a few verbs having another ending, mostly "-ern" or "-eln". The ending "-n" is regarded to be the suffix of those.
- "laufen" (to walk)
- "lächeln" (to smile)
- "meistern" (to master)
There are some verbs which have a permanent prefix at their beginning. The most common permanent prefixes found in German are "ver-", "ge-", "be-", "er-", "ent-" and "zer-".
- "brauchen", to need - "verbrauchen", to consume or to use up
- "raten", to advise - "verraten", to betray
- "fallen", to fall - "gefallen" to be pleasing
- "hören", to hear - "gehören" to belong to
- "brennen", to burn (intransitive) - "verbrennen", to burn (transitive), "to burn completely"
- "beginnen", to begin (no form without the prefix)
The meaning of the permanent prefixes does not have a real system; the alteration in meaning can be subtle or drastic. The prefixes "ver-", "be-" and "ge-" have several different meanings. Verbs with "er-" tend to relate to creative processes, verbs with "ent-" usually describe processes of removing, and "zer-" is used for destructive actions.
Many verbs have a separable prefix that changes the meaning. The separable prefix is added at the beginning, before the permanent prefix.
- "wegtragen" (to carry away)
- "umverteilen" (to share around)
In some cases these separable prefixes merge together with the infinitive; therefore, they are actually permanent prefixes. Unfortunately for the learner, there are even verbs that have a version with a separable prefix and another version with same prefix, but permanent.
- =1. pronounced 'umfahren, with the stress on the first syllable
- to run down (in one's car)
- "Ich fahre den Baum um" (I crash into the tree)
- =2. pronounced um'fahren, with the stress on the second syllable
- to drive around
- "Ich umfahre den Baum" (I drive around the tree)
Components and word order
You can also build complex infinitives, consisting of more than the original infinitive. They include objects, predicative nouns and adverbial information. These are packed before the original infinitive.
- NOT "einen Vogel am Himmel plötzlich sehen"
- BUT "plötzlich einen Vogel am Himmel sehen" (suddenly see a bird in the sky)
Word order is still to be explained
Pronoun objects are usually mentioned before nominal phrase objects; dative nominal objects before accusative nominal objects; and accusative pronoun objects before dative pronouns.
- "Ich gebe meinem Vater das Geld" (I give my father the money)
- "Ich gebe es ihm" (I give it to him)
- "Ich gebe ihm das Geld" (I give him the money)
- "Ich gebe es meinem Vater" (I give it to my father)
- slightly unusual:
- "Ich gebe das Geld meinem Vater" (I give the money to my father)
- "Ich gebe ihm es" (I give him it)
- "Ich gebe das Geld ihm" (I give the money to him)
- very strange:
- "Ich gebe meinem Vater es" (I give my father it)
Native adverbs, like "nicht", "leider" or "gerne", are placed before the innermost verb (see Compound infinitives)
Objects are actually nothing more than nominal phrases or pronouns in a certain case.
Objects may only be described by native adverbs, not "normal" adverbs ("schnell", "leicht") derived from adjectives.
- "dem Gast das Messer geben" (give the/this guest the knife)
- "dem Gast das Messer nicht geben" (not give the/this guest the knife)
- "Das Messer nicht dem Gast geben" (not give the knife to the/this guest)
to be explained in a deeper way
Predicative nouns and predicative adjectives
A predicative adjective can be the positive, comparative or superlative stem of a adjective, therefore it has the same form as the adverb. You may also use positional phrases or pronominal adverbs.
- "rot sein" (be red)
- "bekannt werden" (become well-known)
- "im Rathaus sein" (be in the town hall)
A predicative noun is a nominal phrase in the nominative case.
- "Ein Arzt sein" (be a doctor)
Take notice that, if the subject is singular, the predicative noun musn't be plural.
- "Der Schwarm ist eine Plage" (singular/singular) (the swarm is a pest)
- "Die Bienen sind Insekten" (plural/plural) (the bees are insects)
- "Die Bienen sind der Schwarm" (plural/singular) (the bees are the swarm)
- NOT "Der Schwarm ist die Bienen" (singular/plural)
- use instead for example "Der Schwarm ist ein Haufen Bienen" (the swarm is a load of bees)
- or "Die Bienen sind der Schwarm" (the bees are the swarm)(inversion)
3rd person pronouns are handled like any nominal phrase when used in a predicative way.
1st person or 2nd person pronouns are never used as predicative pronouns.
Normally, you make an inversion, when using an definite pronoun as predicativum.
- Not "Ich bin der" but instead "Der bin ich" (I'm the one)
- Not "Du bist der" but instead "Der bist du" (You're the one)
- Not "es ist der" but instead "Der ist es" (He's the one)
You can use any kind of adverbial phrase or native adverb mentioned above.
You can construct compound infinitives by the usage of modal verbs or auxiliary verbs. You put a new infinitive behind the main infinitive. Then this "outer" infinitive will be conjugated instead of the old "inner" infinitive. Sometimes you have turn the old infinitive into a passive participle.
There are two types of passive forms: static passive and dynamic passive. They differ by their auxiliary words. The static passive uses "sein", the dynamic passive is formed with "werden" (which has a slightly different conjugation from its siblings). In both cases, the old infinitive is turned into its passive participle form.
- "sehen" - "gesehen sein" - "gesehen werden" (see - be seen)
- "plötzlich am Himmel gesehen sein/werden" (suddenly be seen in the sky)
- "in der Schule sein" - "in der Schule gewesen sein" (be in the school - have been in the school)
- "dem Lehrer gefallen" - "dem Lehrer gefallen haben" (please the teacher - have pleased the teacher)
Note that a complex infinitive cannot be turned into passive form, with an accusative object, for obvious reasons. This restriction does not hold for dative objects.
- "mir den Schlüssel geben" (to give me the key)
- NOT "mir den Schlüssel gegeben werden"
- "mir gegeben werden" (have been given to me)
The only exceptions are verbs with two accusative objects. In older forms of German, one of these accusative objects was a dative object. This "dative object" is removed, whereas the "real" accusative object stays.
- "Die Schüler die Vokabeln abfragen" (test the students on their vocab)
- NOT "Die Schüler abgefragt werden"
- "Die Vokabeln abgefragt werden" (the vocab be tested)
The perfect infinitive is constructed by turning the old infinitive into the passive participle form and attaching the auxiliary verbs "haben" or "sein" behind the verb.
- "sehen" - "gesehen haben" (transitive) (see - saw/have seen)
- "einen Vogel sehen" - "einen Vogel gesehen haben" (transitive) (see a bird - saw/have seen a bird)
- "laufen" - "gelaufen sein" (intransitive) (walk - walked/have walked)
- "einen schnellen Schritt laufen" - "einen schnellen Schritt gelaufen sein/haben" (walk at a fast pace - walked/have walked at a fast pace)
- (transitive! The meaning changed!)
Note that the perfect infinitive of an intransitive verb is created the same way as the static passive infinitive of a transitive verb, which can be confusing.
You can also build perfect infinitives of passive infinitives, both static and dynamic. Since the passive is intransitive, having no accusative object, you have to use the auxiliary "sein"
- "sehen" (to see)
- "gesehen worden sein" (to have been seen)
- "gesehen gewesen sein" (to have been being seen)
"sein" is used as an auxiliary verb, when the verb is
- indicates a movement from one place to another, or
- describes the alteration of a state
"haben" is used, when
- actually any other case, but could be described more specifically
The future infinitive is more theoretical, because this infinite is only used in finite form. You keep the old infinitive and append the verb "werden".
- "nach Italien fahren" - "nach Italien fahren werden" (drive to Italy - be driven to Italy)
The future infinitive can also be built by a perfect infinitive, which is used in the future perfect.
- "den Baum gefällt haben" - "den Baum gefällt haben werden" (to have felled the tree - to be about to have felled the tree)
Infinitives with modal verbs
You put the modal infinitive behind the old (passive or perfect) infinitive, not changing any other word. Some modal verbs in German are: können, dürfen, müssen, brauchen, wollen, mögen, lassen.
- "dorthin fahren können" (to be able to drive there)
- "nach Rom fahren lassen" (let someone drive to Rome)
- NOT the same "lassen" as in "den Agenten nach Rom fahren lassen"! (have/let the agent drive to Rome)
Accusative cum infinitivum
Similar to Latin, there is an aci-construction possible. You put a certain infinitive behind the last infinitive, then add an accusative object before the inner complex infinitive. This can be done in two ways:
- "Ich sehe dich stolzieren"
- "I see you strutting"
Subject - Preterite - Object - Infinitive
- "Ich lasse dich ein Haus bauen"
- "I let you build a house"
Subject - Preterite - Object - Compound Infinitive
The Infinitive with "zu"
The infinitive with "zu" has nothing to do with the gerundive, although it is created in a similar way. You just put the word "zu" before the infinitive, maybe before the permanent prefix, but after the separable prefix.
- "zu lesen" (to read)
- "Ich lerne zu lesen" (I learn to read)
- "zu verlassen" (to leave)
- "Ich habe beschlossen, dich zu verlassen" (I've decided to leave you)
- "wegzuwerfen" (to throw away)
- "Ich habe beschlossen, das Buch wegzuwerfen" (I've decided to throw away the book)
The infinitive with "zu", usually extended with "um", is also used to express purpose. The subject of the main clause and the verb in the infinitive must be identical.
- "Ich habe ein Meer überquert, um dich zu treffen" - "I have crossed an ocean to meet you."
There are three persons, two numbers and two moods (indicative and conditional mood) to regard for conjugation. Although there are six tenses in German, you have only to know two of them to conjugate, as the other ones are compound tenses. There are three classes of conjugation in German: weak, strong, and mixed.
Below, the weak verb kaufen 'to buy' and the strong verb singen 'to sing' are conjugated.
|Weak Verbs||Strong Verbs|
Conditional endings (except for sein - to be)
- All tenses and verbs: -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en
sein (to be) is irregular in the conditional mood
- Present conditional: sei, seist, sei, seien, sei(e)t, seien
- Past conditional: wäre, wärst, wäre, wären, wär(e)t, wären
The "(e)"s are inserted when the stem of the verb ends in:
- -chn -d, -dn, -fn, -gn, -t, -tm
The second person singular ending is -t for verbs whose stems end in:
- -s, -ß, -x, -z
beten (to pray; weak transitive verb)
- Past Participle: gebetet
- Present: bete, betest, betet, beten, betet, beten
- Past: betete, betetest, betete, beteten, betetet, beteten
singen (to sing; strong transitive verb)
- Past Participle: gesungen
- Present: singe, singst, singt, singen, singt, singen
- Past: sang, sangst, sang, sangen, sangt, sangen
Some strong verbs change their stem vowel in the second and third person singular of the indicative mood of the present tense.
lesen (to read; strong transitive verb)
- Past Participle: gelesen
- Present: lese, liest, liest, lesen, lest, lesen
- Past: las, last, las, lasen, last, lasen
The other tenses are described in the Sentences section, because they include construction of sentences.
werden (to become) (strong)
- Past participle: geworden
haben (to have) (mixed)
- Past participle: gehabt
sein (to be) (strong)
- Past participle: gewesen
- müssen - to be required; must
- sollen - to be supposed; should
- wollen - to want (resolve)
- mögen - to want (desire)
- können - to be able; can; to be possible
- dürfen - to be allowed; may
Modal verbs are declined irregularly. In the present tense they use the endings of the strong verbs' imperfect. In the imperfect they use the endings of the weak verbs. In addition most modal verbs have a change of vowel in the singular.
- Present tense: darf, darfst, darf, dürfen, dürft, dürfen
- Imperfect tense: durfte, durftest, durfte, durften, durftet, durften
There is an imperative for second person singular and second person plural, as well as for first person plural and second person formal.
The endings for second person singular informal are: "-(e)", "-el" or "-le", and "-er(e)".
The endings for second person plural informal are: "-(e)t", "-elt", and "-ert".
- "Fahren (wir/Sie)!" -"Fahr(e)!" - "Fahrt!"
The imperative of first person plural and second person formal is equal to the infinitive.
This subtopic is strongly related to the construction of German sentences, so you are strongly recommended to take a look at that section.
Verbal nouns and verbal adjectives
This section explains how to construct those forms from the main infinitive. The processes are the same both for simple and complex infinitives. For complex infinitives, you must ignore all the adverbial phrases and object phrases, they do not affect this process; except something else is mentioned.
There are some irregularities to learn when creating the past participle form.
Weak verbs form their past participles with "ge-" plus the third person singular form of the verb.
- fragen (er fragt) -> gefragt
- passen (es passt) -> gepasst
- antworten (er antwortet) -> geantwortet
- hören (er hört) -> gehört
- fühlen (er fühlt) -> gefühlt
Verbs with inseparable prefixes, or foreign words ending in "-ieren" or "-eien" do not have "ge-" added to the verb.
- "probieren" (er probiert) -> probiert
- "prophezeien" (er prophezeit) -> prophezeit
For irregular verbs, the infinitive ending "-en" remains. But in most cases, the suffix "-t" is used.
The seperable prefix remains in place.
- NOTE "Ich habe den Baum umgefahren" (I drove over - crashed into - the tree)
- NOTE "Ich habe den Baum umfahren" (I drove around the tree)
The past participles of modal and auxiliary verbs have the same form as their infinitives. But if these verbs are used alone, without an infinitive, they have a regular participle.
- "Ich habe den Chef besuchen dürfen" ("Chef" = boss) (I was allowed to see the boss)
- "Ich habe zum Chef gedurft" (unusual) (I was allowed in to the boss)
To create the basic form of a present participle, you attach the suffix "d" to the infinitive of the verb.
- "laufen" - "laufend" (walk - walking)
- "töpfern" - "töpfernd" (make pottery - making pottery)
- "lächeln" - "lächelnd" (smile - smiling)
- "verraten" - "verratend" (betray - betraying)
- "aufbauen" - "aufbauend" (establish - establishing)
Future participle or gerundive
A gerundive-like construction is fairly complicated to use. The basic form is created by putting the word "zu" before the infinitive. This is also the adverb.
- "zu suchen" (to be looked for)
- "Der Schlüssel ist zu suchen" (the key needs to be looked for)
- "zu verzeichnen" (to be recorded)
- "Ein Trend ist zu verzeichnen" (A trend may be recorded)
The adjective is more complicated. Instead of the infinitive, you use the present participle, then decline it corresponding to gender, number, case and article of the nominal phrase.
- "Der zu suchende Schlüssel" (the key to be looked for)
- "Ein zu lüftendes Geheimnis" (a secret to be revealed)
Agent nouns (nomen agentis)
Agent nouns (e.g. "photographer" from "photograph" in English) are constructed by taking the infinitive, removing the ending and replacing it by "-er", "-ler" or "-er(er)". If the person is a woman, the endings have an extra "-in" on them.
- infinitive: "fahr|en" to drive
- agent noun, masculine: "Der Fahrer" the (male) driver
- agent noun, feminine: "Die Fahrerin" the (female) driver
- infinitive: "tisch|lern" to join (carpentry)
- agent noun, masculine: "Der Tischler" the (male) joiner
- agent noun, feminine: "Die Tischlerin" the (female) joiner
- infinitive: "verweiger|n" to refuse
- agent noun, masculine: "Der Verweigerer" the (male) refuser
- agent noun, feminine: "Die Verweigererin" the (female) refuser
This form is hard to build for complex infinitives, therefore it is unusual:
- infinitive:"weggehen" to go away
- does not usually become "der Weggeher" or "die Weggeherin", but instead "Derjeniger, der weggeht" (the one going away)
- "schnell zum Flughafen fahren um die Maschine noch zu erwischen" (to quickly drive to the airport to just catch the flight)
- does not become: "Der Schnell-zum-Flughafen-um-die-Maschine-noch-zu-erwischen-Fahrer" (the quickly-driving-to-the-airport-to-catch-the-flight-driver)
The normal gerund noun is generally the same word as the infinitive. The gerund does not have a plural, and its gender is neuter.
- "arbeiten" - "Das Arbeiten" (to work - working)
- NOTE "Die Arbeiten" is not the feminine plural of the gerund "Arbeiten",
- it is the plural of "Die Arbeit".
There is another kind of gerund that implies disapproval of the action. The ending of this form is "-erei" ( "-lerei" or "erei" ). It does not have a plural, and its gender is feminine.
- "arbeiten" - "Die Arbeiterei" (to work - this silly working)
- "lächeln" - "Die Lächlerei" (to smile - this silly smiling)
Similar to the form presented above, you can put the prefix "ge-" (after the separable prefix), if the verb doesn't have a permanent prefix, and attach the ending "-e" ( "-el", "-er" ). This noun indicates the same disapproval as the other one. It is a singularetantum, too, and it is masculine.
- "fahren" - "Das Gefahre" (to drive - silly driving)
- "lächeln" - "Das Gelächel" (smiling - silly smiling)
These forms are very hard to build for complex infinitives, therefore they are very unusual. Most of the time you do this, and you won't do that very often, you must ensure that all object phrases and adverbial phrases are put before the gerund noun.
- "gesehen werden" - "Das Gesehen-Werden" (to be seen - being seen)
- "schnell zum Flughafen fahren um die Maschine noch zu erwischen"
- ABSURD AND UNUSUAL:
- "Das Schnell-zum-Flughafen-um-die-Maschine-noch-zu-erwischen-Fahren"
- Not that absurd, but rather funny:
- "Die Schnell-zum-Flughafen-um-die-Maschine-noch-zu-erwischen-Fahrerei"
Although there are six tenses in German, a student has actually only two tenses to learn, because the other ones are compound. They are actually quite similar to English constructions.
Conjugation includes three persons, two numbers, two moods and two tenses. The subjunctive mood is quite complicated to build; even many native speakers have problems with that matter. English native speakers should note that these tenses don't carry aspect information. There are no progressive tenses. "Das Mädchen geht zur Schule" may mean "The girl goes to school" as well as "The girl is going to school". A sentence like "Das Mädchen ist zur Schule gehend" is still correct, but nobody speaks this way (by the way, "Das Mädchen ist gehend zur Schule" is completely wrong). You must use an adverb to make a visible difference aside from the context.
- Present - It is the present-conjugated form of the infinitive. The most important tense in German. You will mainly use "Präsens" for present progressive, as well as for historical past. It is also common to use it with a future meaning.
- Example: Ich kaufe das Auto. (I buy the car)
- Preterite - It is the past-conjugated form of the infinitive. This past tense is mainly for written German and formal speech.
- Example: Ich kaufte das Auto. (I bought the car)
- Perfect - It is the present-conjugated form of the perfect infinitive. The most important tense in spoken German to explain what happened in the past. Note that to express things like "I have been waiting for 3 hours now", present tense is used: "Ich warte jetzt schon seit 3 Stunden hier" (literally, "I wait now already since 3 hours here").
- Example: Ich habe das Auto gekauft. (I (have) bought the car)
- Pluperfect (past perfect) - It is the past-conjugated form of the perfect infinitive. It can be thought of the perfect form of the Preterite. Use it when you describe what had already happened in the past.
- Example: Ich hatte das Auto gekauft. (I had bought the car)
- Future - It is the present-conjugated form of the future infinitive. Mainly for describing the future. This tense is used in spoken and written German, but Germans prefer the Präsens with future meaning instead.
- Example: Ich werde das Auto kaufen. (I'm going to buy the car)
- Future perfect - It is the present-conjugated form of the future infinitive of the perfect infinitive. Used to refer to things that will have happened, that is be past, in the future. This tense is uncommon in spoken German.
- Example: Ich werde das Auto gekauft haben. (I'll have bought the car)
In the third singular and plural conjugations future perfect can also be used to express an assumption and refers to something that is assumed to have happened in the past.
- Er wird das Auto gekauft haben (He'll (surely) have bought the car):Sie werden das Auto gekauft haben (They'll (surely) have bough the car)
If a verb has a separable prefix, this prefix is moved to the end of the sentence.
- "Ich" - "den Müll wegwerfen" (I / throw away the rubbish)
- "Ich werfe den Müll weg" (statement) (I'm throwing away the rubbish)
- "Werfe ich den Müll weg?" (question) (Am I throwing away the rubbish?)
- "Wirf den Müll weg!" (command) (Throw away the rubbish!)
A normal statement is quite simple to build. First the Subject, then the conjugated verb, at last the rest of the infinitive without this verb.
- "Ich" - "den Baum sehen" - "Ich sehe den Baum" (I - to see the tree - I see the tree)
- "Du" - "nach Hause gegangen sein" - "Du bist nach Hause gegangen" (You - to have gone home - you have gone home)
- "Ein Text" - "geschrieben werden" - "Ein Text wird geschrieben" (A text - to be written - a text is being written)
- "Wir" - "den Raum verlassen" - "Wir verlassen den Raum" (we - to leave the room - we leave the room)
- "Der König" - "eine Burg bauen lassen" - "Der König lässt eine Burg bauen" (the king - to have a castle built - the king has a castle built)
If the conjugated verb has a separable prefix, this prefix stays at the end of the sentence.
- "Ich" - "den Müll wegwerfen" - "Ich werfe den Müll weg"
By an inversion you emphasize a component of the sentence: an adverbial phrase, a predicative or an object, or even an inner verbal phrase. The subject phrase is put directly behind the conjugated verb, and the component to emphasize is taken to the beginning.
- "Ich fliege schnell" - "Schnell fliege ich" (I fly fast - I fly fast)
- "Du bist wunderschön" - "wunderschön bist du" (You are lovely - you are lovely)
- UNCOMMON: "Ich bin gelaufen" - "Gelaufen bin ich" (I walked - I walked)
Questions may be divided into yes/no questions, asking for the truthfulness of a statement, and specific questions, which ask for a concrete aspect of a statement.
Specific questions are similar to inverted statements. They begin with a question word, then there is the conjugated verb, maybe the subject next, and the rest of the sentence follows.
This kind of question is similar to the inversion: you put the inflected verb at the beginning of the (not inverted) sentence.
- "Du kommst." - "Kommst du?" (You are coming - Are you coming?)
- "Ich habe geschlafen." - "Habe ich geschlafen?" (I slept - Did I sleep?)
- "Ich werde das Spiel beenden." - "Werde ich das Spiel beenden?" (I'm going to finish the game - Am I going to finish the game?)
- "Du wirfst den Torwart raus." - "Wirfst du den Torwart raus?" (You are throwing out the goalkeeper - Are you throwing out the goalkeeper?)
Asking for subject or object
In a normal question, you replace the subject phrase or object phrase with a corresponding interrogative pronoun, then move it to the beginning of the sentence, like an inversion. Theoretically, you must use the interrogative pronoun of "welcher, welche, welches" or a nominal phrase with the interrogative article.
- "Du hast deiner Frau einen Ring gekauft" (You bought your wife a ring)
- - "Welchen hast du deiner Frau gekauft?" (Which one did you buy your wife?)
- "Du hast deiner Frau einen roten Ring gekauft" (You bought your wife a red ring)
- - "Welchen Ring hast du deiner Frau gekauft?" (Which ring did you buy your wife?)
- "Du hast deiner Frau einen roten Ring gekauft" (You bought your wife a red ring)
- - "Welchen Roten hast du deiner Frau gekauft?" (Which red one did you buy your wife?)
- "Du hast deiner Frau einen roten Ring gekauft" (You bought your wife a red ring)
- - "Welchen roten Ring hast du deiner Frau gekauft?" (Which red ring did you buy your wife?)
But the usage of this pronoun implies that the speaker knows both the gender and number of the unknown object. So, practically, you replace these pronouns by short forms.
- "Du hast deiner Frau einen Ring gekauft" (You bought your wife a ring)
- - "Was hast du deiner Frau gekauft?" (What did you buy your wife?)
Regardless of whether you use the full pronoun or the short form, the genitive case is practically only used for genitive objects. See Ask for Possessors
Asking for a predicative
You ask for a predicative with the either interrogative pronoun "Was" or, if knowing it is not a nominal phrase, "Wie".
- "Er ist schnell" - "Wie/Was ist er?" (He's fast - What is he?)
- "Ein Schmetterling ist ein Insekt" - "Was ist ein Schmetterling?" (A butterfly is an insect - What is a butterfly?)
You can also use other interrogative pronouns like "Wo".
Asking for an adverb
It is possible to ask for the adverb of a predicative, if it is not a nominal phrase (and even for the adverb of the adverb etc.)
- "Der Baum ist 3 Meter hoch.- "Wie hoch ist der Baum?" (The tree is three metres tall - How tall is the tree?)
Ask for Possessor
When searching for the possessor of a nominal phrase, you first act as if you would invert the corresponding statement, placing the noun with the unknown possessor at the beginning. Then give it the possessive interrogative article ("wessen" for all cases, genders and numbers). Of course, this nominal phrase may not have a genitive possessor.
- "Ich habe das Auto des Chefs gesehen." - "Wessen Auto hast du gesehen?" (I saw the boss's car - Whose car did you see?)
- "Ich habe sein Auto gesehen" - "Wessen Auto hast du gesehen?" (I saw his car - Whose car did you see?)
- "Ich habe sein Auto gesehen" - "Wessen hast du gesehen?" (I saw his car - Whose did you see?)
- (Wessen is no longer an article, but a pronoun)
Usage is the same for both unknown possessive articles as for unknown genitive possessors.
Asking for an adverb
First the interrogative pronoun ("Wie"), then the conjugated verb, next the subject, then the rest of the sentence.
- "Der Vogel fliegt schnell am Himmel" - "Wie fliegt der Vogel am Himmel?" (The bird flies quickly in the sky - How does the bird fly in the sky?)
If the adverb describes another adverb or an adjective:
- "Der Vogel fliegt ungeheuer schnell" - "Wie schnell fliegt der Vogel?" (The bird flies amazingly quickly - How quickly does the bird fly?)
Asking for position or adverbial clause
Developing the question for an adverbial phrase may be slightly more complicated.
Theoretically, like the other specific questions, the unknown position is inverted to the beginning of the sentence. Whereas the pre- or post- position remains, the nominal part is replaced either by an interrogative pronoun or by a nominal phrase having the interrogative article.
- "Er sah den Vogel auf dem Baum." - "Auf welchem Baum sah er den Vogel?" (He saw the bird in the tree - In which tree did he see the bird?)
- "Dein Hund wurde in diesem Jahr geboren." (The dog was born this year)
- - "In welchem Jahr wurde dein Hund geboren?" (Which year was the dog born?)
Practically, the person asking the question will know neither the gender of the noun, nor the number of the noun, nor even the kind of preposition, before he hears the answer. So a short form is used instead in nearly every case. These short forms are also the only way to ask for an adverbial clause or for a proposition.
- "Er sah den Vogel auf dem Baum." - "Wo sah er den Vogel?" (He saw the bird in the tree - Where did he see the bird?)
- "Dein Hund wurde damals geboren." - "Wann wurde dein Hund geboren?" (Your dog was born then - When was your dog born?)
Some interrogative pronouns: Wo, Woher, Wohin, Wann, Wieso, Weshalb, Warum, Weswegen.
For a command you take the imperative form of the conjugated verb from the infinitive and put it at the beginning of the sentence followed by the corresponding personal pronoun. The separable prefix, if there is one, remains at its old place, separated.
If the verb changes the vowel in the second and third person singular, the vowel is also changed in the second person singular of the imperative.
The 2nd person plural pronoun is always omitted. In archaic language, or to emphasize who is ordered for the action, the 2nd person singular pronoun may be left.
- "Das Tier verfolgen" - "Verfolge (du) das Tier!" (to trail the animal - Trail the animal!)
- "Das Tier verfolgen lassen" - "Lass(e) (du) das Tier verfolgen!" (to have the animal trailed - Have the animal trailed!)
- "wegfahren" - "Fahr(e) (du) weg" (to drive away - Drive away!)
- "jemanden mitnehmen" - "Nimm (du) jemanden mit" (to give someone a lift - Give someone a lift!)
Note that an e may be added on to the end of the command form, but only if the verb does not have a stem-change. This is a result of the spoken language and has no difference in meaning. "Schreib das Wort auf!" means the same as "Schreibe das Wort auf!" (Write the word down!)
"Liese das Buch!" is incorrect because the stem changes from les to lies in the command form, although some (non-native) speakers may say this incorrectly. "Les das Buch!" (Read the book!) is correct.
There are no imperative forms for first person plural and second person formal. The first and third person plural of the conditional of the present is used. You must put it to beginning of the sentence, separate the separable prefix before that, and place the personal pronouns "wir" or "Sie" directly after it.
- "wegfahren" - "Fahren wir weg!" - "Fahren Sie weg!" - (You) Drive away!
- "froh sein" - "Seien wir froh!" - "Seien Sie froh!" - Let's be glad!
Note that imperatives must have the same word order as yes/no questions.
A subordinate clause is always incorporated in a main sentence (or another subordinal clause). In general, it begins with a special word, setting it into relation with the encompassing sentence. At next there can be the subject, at last there is the infinitive with the conjugated verb. Notice, that the conjugated verb remains at its position at the end.
This topic needs some adds
Subordinate Sentence Structure
Just as in English, a subordinate clause may be used at the beginning or end of a complete expression, so long as it is paired with at least one independent clause. For instance, just as one could say either
"I will go with you, if I can." or "If I can, I will go with you.",
so you can also say in German
"Ich werde mitkommen, wenn ich es kann." or "Wenn ich es kann, werde ich mitkommen."
Note, however, that in the German when the independent clause comes after a subordinate clause the conjugated verb comes before the subject. This arises from the basic rule that always places the conjugated verb in a sentence in the second position, even if that puts it ahead of the sentence's subject.
Clauses with dass
Subordinate clauses beginning with "dass" [thus, so, that] enable the speaker to use statements like nominal phrases or pronouns. These sentences are singular, neuter and either nominative or accusative.
- "Dass Spinnen keine Insekten sind, ist allgemein bekannt" (It's well-known that spiders are not insects)
- - "Das ist allgemein bekannt" (That is well-known)
- "Ich weiß, dass Spinnen keine Insekten sind" - "Ich weiß das" (I know that spiders are not insects - I know that.)
Indirect questions with ob
Whereas the word "dass" indicates that the statement is a fact, "ob" starts an indirect yes/no question.
- "Ich weiß nicht, ob ich fliegen soll." (I don't know whether I should fly.)
Specific indirect question
The outer nominal phrase the relative clause relates to can be any nominal phrase in any case. The clause begins with a form of the relative pronoun derived from and largely identical to the definite pronoun (der/die/das), or the interrogative pronoun (welchem/welcher/welches), the rest words are put after it. Using the interrogative pronoun without good cause is considered typical for legalese language.
- "Der Mann, der/welcher seiner Frau den Hund schenkt" (nominative subject)(The man who gives his wife the dog)
- "Der Hund, den/welchen der Mann seiner Frau schenkt" (accusative object) (The dog which the man gives his wife)
- "Die Frau, der/welcher der Mann den Hund schenkt" (dative object) (The woman to whom the man gives the dog)
- "Der Mann, der/welcher ich bin" (predicative noun) (The man I am)
The outer nominal phrase can also be the possessor of a noun inside. You use the genitive case of a relative pronoun matching the outer nominal phrase in gender and number.
- "Der Mann, dessen Auto auf der Straße parkt" (The man whose car is parked on the street)
- "Die Person, deren Auto ich kaufe" (The person whose car I am buying)
- "Das Auto, dessen Fahrer ich helfe" (The car whose driver I am helping)
- "Die Kinder, deren Lehrer ich kenne" (The children whose teacher I know)
Prepositions/Postpositions are attached to these phrases in the relative clause if necessary.
- "Das Haus, in dem ich lebe" (The house I live in)
- "Die Person, wegen der ich hier bin" (The person I am here because of)
- "Das Haus, durch dessen Tür ich gegangen bin" (The house whose door I came in by)
If the relative pronoun is identical to the definite article several identical forms may follow each other.
- "Der, der der, der ich schon Honig gegeben hatte, Honig gab, muss mehr Honig kaufen" (The man who gave honey to the woman I had already given honey to, has to buy more honey)
Such constructions are generally avoided by using forms of welch- as relative pronouns.
- "Der, welcher der, welcher ..."
- "Derjenige, welcher der Frau, der ich ...
The interrogative pronoun wo can be used to indicate general place and sometimes time.
- "In dem Geschäft, wo man auch Brot kaufen kann, kaufe ich Bier." - "In this shop where you also can buy bread I am buying beer."
When to use der, welcher or was: to be added
An adverbial clause begins with a conjunction, defining its relation to the verb or nominal phrase described.
- "Als ich auf dem Meer segelte" (When I was sailing on the sea)
Some examples of conjunctions: als, während, nachdem, weil
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