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Word order with German logic

word order

Learn word order of German sentences


German grammar is quite complex, if you start taking into account all the exceptions and special cases that exist. This blog is not a grammar book, and on the contrary, I try to simplify the theory as much as possible and focus on giving practical and simple solutions that you can apply immediately to improve your German.

German logic

When you learn a new language you don't just have to learn new words, but you also need to accept, that things are not going to be the same as in your language. At the beginning that is one of the most difficult things.

In German we love to express the most important thing at the end of a sentence (the verbs or action). It is extremely important that you do not forget it. As you can imagine, a language has a lot to do with people's culture. So one I might say, that Germans are known for their patience and that it is not a option to interrupt someone, because surely you still do not know what they are going to say, until you wait for the end of the sentence.

We start with some examples of a simple and common phrase:

  • Ich lerne Deutsch.
  • I am learning german.

There is nothing special in this sentence. Both in German and in English, we have the same structure.

Subject + Verb + Objects ...

Now let's see what happens when we use 2 verbs in the same sentence.

  • Ich will in 3 Monaten Deutsch lernen.
  • I want to learn German in 3 months.

Now it already became interesting. When you use 2 German verbs like "want" and "learn", you can no longer use the English logic. In German, the 2 verbs try to encompass the whole sentence.

Subject + Verb 1 + ... Objects ... + Verb 2.

With my students I call this "Yoda talk" (talking like Yoda from Star Wars). So you can familiarize yourself with that logic, I will give you some examples in English, but with German logic:

  • I want German in 3 months to learn.
  • My mom will to Mexico with her friends the next weekend go.
  • I can you tomorrow morning call.
  • Do you want this Thursday with my friends at the park at 5 o'clock in the afternoon a beer to drink?

The more "additional" information you add to a sentence (place, time, people, etc...), the more patience you need until you actually find out what they are going to do at the park on Thursday at 5pm. If you interrupt the person, you will miss out on the most important part and many misunderstandings can arise.

Now let's get on to something even crazier in German logic ...

Sentences with 2 phrases (Relativsätze)

When you want to say something more complex and longer, you are probably going to connect 2 or 3 or 4 ideas in a single sentence. When this happens, you have to pay a lot of attention to put the verbs in the right place. Let's see some examples.

  • Ich denke, dass es eine gute Idee ist.
  • I think, that it is a good idea.

When you use a connecting word (dass, weil, wenn, ob, falls, obwohl, sodass, was, wo, etc ...) the following rule applies. THE VERB GOES TO THE END!

und, aber, oder are exceptions of "connection words", which do NOT activate this rule and the normal order is maintained after the comma: Subject + Verb 1 + ... Objects ... + Verb 2

Again I'm going to give you examples in English with German logic, so you can practice and better understand how strange that is.

  • I think, that this a good idea is.
  • I don't know, if I to the college tomorrow go.
  • Can you ask him, when the bus tomorrow departs?
  • She said to him, that she not comes, because she very bad feels.

I challenge you to talk to a friend that way. Now imagine how strange is it for a German, when you continue to use English logic while speaking German. I hope you are realizing how important it is to respect the logic of a language.

Now comes the grand finale. German logic in its craziest form.

If you use 2 verbs in the sentence after the connecting word, what happens? THEY GO TO THE END! And they swap places ...

  • Ich denke, dass es eine gute Idee sein kann.
  • I think, that it can be a good idea.

Another example:

  • Ich habe dir gestern geschrieben, dass er das Ticket nicht gekaufthat.
  • I wrote you yesterday, that he did not buy the ticket.

Some examples in English with German logic:

  • I don't know, if he those pants buy wants to.
  • I told you, that you me call should.
  • My dad is sure, that your all the beer drunk have.

Starting with additional information

Another fundamental rule of German applies when you start a sentence with "additional information". This is something very common and when you speak German you will do it a lot. So pay close attention :) When you start a sentence with "additional information", the (first) verb goes right after.

What is considered "additional information"?

  1. Time (today, tomorrow, next weekend, yesterday, at 3pm, in 5 minutes, 2 hours ago, etc...)
  2. Place (at my work, at home, in Germany, in New York, etc...)
  3. Adverbs (unfortunately, usually, anyway, then, so, etc...)

Examples in German starting with additional information:

  • In Deutschland essen viele Menschen Kartoffeln.
  • Am Strand spielen die Kinder im Wasser.
  • Auf dem Boot gibt es eine Party.
  • Um 7 Uhr gehe ich in das Restaurant.
  • Vor 2 Stunden habe ich einen Film geschaut.
  • Nach der Arbeit gehe ich mit meinen Freunden ein Bier trinken.
  • Jeden Tag gehe ich zur Arbeit.
  • Am Montag werde ich ...
  • Normalerweise esse ich kein Fleisch.
  • Leider habe ich kein Geld.
  • Also werde ich nicht gehen.
  • Dann musst du ohne mich gehen.
  • Troztdem kannst du mir helfen.


  1. Try saying some sentences in English with German logic so that your brain starts getting used to it.
  2. Identify "connecting words" and remember that the verbs will go to the end of the sentence
  3. Practice starting your sentences with "additional information" and remember that the verb follows immediately.
  4. Mentalize yourself that the most important thing comes at the end and when you are listening, try to memorize all the additional information in your head until you get to verbs. Then put it all back together.


Each language has its differences and German proves it without a doubt. The way of thinking and accommodating words when speaking German is different than in English. You will need patience to carry on a conversation and avoid interrupting other people. If you make a mistake with the order of the words, don't worry, the people will understand you. However, if you want to speak like a native, this is one of things, which is going to have the biggest impact on your fluency.

Aaron Koivunen

Aaron Koivunen is a German teacher and software engineer. He helps people from all around the world to learn German in an easier and more efficient way. He currently lives in the city of Helsinki in Finland.