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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to German.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Jenni.
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of German grammar.
Word Order
"Word Order" refers to the order in which words are structured to form a sentence in a given language.
Consider the English sentence "I ate an apple." But first, let's remove the article "an" here for simplicity, so we're just left with "I ate apple."
The basic Word Order for English is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
If we break down the English sentence "I ate apple,” we can see that the subject "I" is presented first, followed by the verb "ate,” and then finally the object "apple" is positioned last.
This is the basic word order for sentences in English.
Now let's compare that same sentence "I ate an apple,” in German.
Ich esse einen Apfel.
Like before, let's remove the article to keep it simple, so we're just left with the words.
If we break down the German sentence, we get the subject Ich meaning “I,” then comes the verb esse meaning "eat,” and finally we have the object Apfel meaning "apple.”
Ich esse Apfel.
The basic word order for German then, is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
As you can see, English and German both have the same word order. This essentially means that you can create basic German sentences by exchanging English words, for German words.
This isn't perfect, but it's a good place to get you started. Understanding basic word order will allow you to string together the few German words you've learned to create basic sentences and to start communicating in German.
Creating Basic Sentences
In the previous section, you learned that English and German both use the same SVO word order. Let's study this aspect in a little more detail. First, let's take a look at an example in English.
“She sees the boy every day.”
We can clearly see the SVO word structure used in English, even with the adverb attached at the very end there. But what if we were to try and change the word order of this sentence? Let's swap the object and the subject around. Now we get...
“The boy sees she every day.”
As you can see, rearranging the word order of an English sentence, actually changes the meaning of the sentence itself.
The word order of German on the other hand, is much more flexible than English. While German does follow an SVO word order like English, it's much less rigid, allowing us to move elements of the sentence around.
Sie sieht den Jungen jeden Tag. (“She sees the boy every day.”)
Den Jungen sieht sie jeden Tag. (“The boy she sees every day.”)
move S and O around to become OVSA
As you can see, swapping the object and the subject around in German doesn't change the core meaning of the sentence itself.
Jeden Tag sieht sie den Jungen. (“Every day she sees the boy.”)
In fact, all parts of the sentence can be rearranged – except the verb. As long as the verb is the second element the sentence, you can generally rearrange the sentence however you wish.
Creating Longer Sentences
We've talked about basic sentences in English and German, but what if you wanted to give more detail to a sentence? Consider the following English sentence:
“I like apples... because they taste good.”
Notice how there are two parts to this sentence:
"I like apples" and "because they taste good."
We call the first part of this sentence, the “main clause,” and the second part of this sentence the “dependent clause” because it depends on the first part to make sense.
If we break down the two parts, we can see that English sticks to the SVO word order once again.
Now, let's compare the same sentence in German.
Ich mag Äpfel... weil sie gut schmecken.
The main clause has the verb as the second element, so this is fine. The dependent clause however has the verb as the final element in the sentence, not as the second element.
So in fact, German sentences will always have the verb as the second element, but if there's a dependent clause, the verb in that clause will always be moved to the final position.
Ich mag Äpfel, weil sie gut schmecken.
How to Form Negative Sentences in German
Negating basic sentences in German is easy compared to English. Simply add nicht which means "not" at the end of a German sentence.
Ich schlafe. (= “I’m sleeping.”)
Ich schlafe nicht. (= “I’m not sleeping.”)
If you want show that you have "zero" sum of something...
...you would add kein, which can be translated to “no” depending on the sentence.
Ich habe kein Geld. (= “I have no money.”)
Ich habe keine Energie. (= “I have no energy.”)
This is a simplified way to negate basic sentences in German.
How to Form Questions in German
Formulating questions in German is also easy. Simply swap the verb and subject to make a sentence into a question.
Sie ist hier. = “She is here.”
Ist sie hier? = “Is she here?”
Sie isst Äpfel.
“She eats apples.”
Isst sie Äpfel?
“Is she eating apples?”
That's right – just a quick swap makes this a question.
Well done! We've covered a lot of things in this lesson, so let's recap what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that the same word order as English can be used in German. German word order can be rearranged any which way, so long as the verb is the second element in the sentence. If there are dependent clauses, then the verb in that clause will appear at the end of the sentence. Simply add the word for "not” at the end of a sentence to make it negative. And to formulate a question simply swap the subject and verb around.
We've covered only the very basics of German grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "German in 3 minutes" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of German grammar, and each lesson is only 3 minutes long!
In the next lesson we will introduce you to basics of German writing.
See you in the next lesson! Bye!