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German 1 Online: Reading Guide for Pages 40-43: Word Order and Forming Questions
By now you should be familiar with the navigation of the e-Text on the Connect website, so future reading guides will
assume you can find your way to the correct pages. For this assignment, click on the menu of “Book Contents”,
choose “Kapitel 1”, then select “Grammatik im Kontext” from the side menu, and scroll down to page 40.
Page 40
This section will finish up our grammar topics for Chapter 1. It builds off of what you learned last
week regarding subjects (nouns) and verbs (conjugated to match subject), and now includes very
important information about the order in which elements come in a German sentence. Pay attention
here: German is NOT like English in its word order, nor is it the same as most other languages. You
need to watch how the VERB IS ALWAYS THE SECOND ELEMENT in a normal German sentence!
Word Order in Sentences
Unlike English (and unlike Spanish and French and most other languages), the verb in German is FIXED in the second
position in the sentence. This means that you must always keep a verb as the second element in any declarative
(statement-type) sentence.
Things to notice:
• The green chart shows you how the verb stays in second position in every sentence you will write.
• If you say “I learn German”, easy enough — your verb is in second position in both English and German: “Ich lerne
Deutsch.” Remember that “Ich lerne Deutsch” can also mean “I am learning German”.
• But in English, we can add more words to the beginning of a sentence: “Next year I’ll learn Spanish.” In German,
if you add words at the beginning of the sentence, your verb STAYS IN SECOND PLACE. Everything else
shifts around to accommodate the verb as second element:
Nächstes Jahr
(something else)
ich Spanisch.
ich nächstes Jahr.
(I’m learning Spanish.)
(Next year I’ll learn Spanish.)
(It’s Spanish that I’ll learn next year.)
• You will need to get used to checking on your verb placement in German: it’s a very common mistake for English
learners to make, having the verb in the wrong place. If you remember to always put your verb as the
second element in the sentence, you will be fine!
Übung 15, 16, 17
These activities are not assigned, but you are welcome to work through them yourself if you wish! As always, please
feel free to ask questions in Skype or in email if you don’t understand something!
Page 41
The final section of grammar here deals with two types of question-sentences: those with a question
word (like ‘why?’ ‘how?’ ‘when?’) and those without a question word (yes-no questions: ‘are you
coming to class?’). Pay attention to the differences in word order between these two types of
Asking Questions: Word Questions
Read the list of question words carefully. In a question with a question words, the verb is the second element in
the sentence, just like a normal statement.
Things to notice:
• Many German question words are easy to learn: “wann” = when, “was” = what. But pay particular attention to
the words “wo” and “wer” — they may not mean what you think they do! “Wo” means ‘where’ and “Wer”
means ‘who’! You will need to keep these meanings straight: if someone asks you “Wo ist das?” they are
asking WHERE it is, not who!
Übung 18, 19, 20
These activities are assigned via the Connect website Aufgabe, which you will complete after finishing this reading
Page 42-43
Yes / No Questions
A yes/no question is different than any other sentence in German: it starts with a verb as the first
element! Remember that when you want to ask “Do you live in Mission Viejo?” you will simply start
with the verb: “Wohnst du in Mission Viejo?”
Things to notice:
• English often uses helping verbs like ‘do’ or ‘are’: “Do you live?” “Are you learning?” German does not have
helping verbs for questions! You simply ask with the verb only! If you put other verbs in the sentence,
Germans will absolutely not understand you.
Bist du Hans? ..........................Are you Hans?
Kommst du mit? ......................Are you coming along?
Bringst du das Bier zur Party? ......Are you bringing the beer to the party?
Gehst du zur Uni? .....................Do you go to college?
Trinkst du gern Kaffee? .............Do you like to drink coffee?
Übung 22, 23, 25
These activities are assigned via the Connect website Aufgabe, which you will complete after finishing this reading
Now that you have learned how German deals with verb placement and word order in sentences and questions,
you should complete the Aufgabe on the Connect website. After you have completed those exercises, move on to
the next section of this reading guide (pages 31 and 44-47), where we learn our last chapter topic, information
about multiculturalism in Germany.