The article German grammar gives an overview of the main areas of grammar - especially parts of speech , word formation , word forms and sentence structure - of the standard high German language (in contrast to the dialects of German ).
High German belongs within the group of Germanic languages to the continental-West Germanic languages, together with Dutch , Low or Low German and the Frisian languages . It has basic similarities with these, especially very complex rules of word order , which also differentiate between subordinate and main clauses. German (as well as its relatives just mentioned) cannot be assigned to any of the usual word order types that are described in the language typology , but rather represents the rare case of a second language .
In comparison with other Germanic languages, the German language has retained a rich system of word forms ( inflection ) to an extent that is otherwise only Icelandic . German distinguishes three genera (grammatical genders) in nouns ( nouns ) with which the forms of the accompanying articles and adjectives must match, and in all three parts of speech four cases (cases) and two numbers (singular and plural). In addition, there is the “strong / mixed / weak” inflection of the adjectives, which indicates the type of article that precedes it. German marks forms for tense (tense), person and mode (statement) on the verb (activity word ) and uses auxiliary verbs (haben, sein, werden) to express further grammatical categories.
German is characterized by a particularly flexible ability to form words . Verbs appear with a rich system of prefixes (prefixes), particles, and other elements that make up compound verbs. The extensive use of compound words is also perceived as typical (house + door, cone + shape, Christmas s + tree + seller).
Typical of German is also a high number of prepositions ( prepositions ), including many so-called “half-prepositions” that change into other parts of speech, and a rich inventory of tinting particles (stop, just, eh).
The area of German grammar
The area of grammar usually comprises at least the three core areas:
- Phonology (specifically phonology )
- Form theory and word formation ( morphology ),
- Sentence structure ( syntax ).
Spelling and punctuation, which are partly based on grammatical principles, are often included in German grammar presentations. However, the spelling is subject to specifications that can be changed, even without the language as such having to have changed. This area is therefore not dealt with here. Just like the spelling, the phonology of German is not presented here, but in a separate article:
Types of grammars
Depending on the objective and tradition, German grammar is presented from different perspectives, which can also greatly influence the content of the presentation.
In older treatments of German grammar (e.g. by Hermann Paul (1916) and Otto Behaghel (1928)) there is a close connection between grammar writing and historical considerations. In this perspective, the emergence of today's grammatical forms from earlier stages is treated as part of a grammatical overview of the German language. In most modern grammars, on the other hand, there is a synchronous approach: It aims to describe a language system at the (respective) current point in time and thus to map the current knowledge of the language user, of which large parts are unconsciously acquired knowledge that is not based on teaching (in Contrary to what is the case for language-historical knowledge).
With regard to the objectives, one can first differentiate between normative and descriptive grammars of German. A normative grammar aims to teach a certain form of German as a binding standard. Anything that does not conform to this norm is then referred to as “grammatically incorrect”. In contrast to this, the approach of descriptive (descriptive) grammar is to describe German in the way that competent native speakers actually use it spontaneously (provided that this use occurs systematically, i.e. without them intuitively perceiving what is said as a slip of the tongue). There is in this perspective, then no distinction between "good German" (which are used to ) and "false or bad German" (as something that should be avoided) but controversial grammatical phenomena can take specific speaking styles, text types or social Groups are assigned as typical, but otherwise documented from a neutral point of view. A descriptive approach usually leads to the recognition of different varieties (manifestations of a language) that can be characterized by their social evaluation. The term "grammatically incorrect" is then reduced to word or sentence forms that do not appear in any variety of German. In the recorded content, normatively oriented and descriptively oriented grammars do not necessarily have to differ significantly, since the definition of a standard variety also requires its description. Descriptive grammars can usually not cover the full range of variations, but often deal with an idealized form, i.e. a standard variety of German.
There is also a significant distinction between scientific grammar and practical grammar , whereby practical grammars also include didactic grammars , i.e. grammars that are used for language teaching. Criteria that are applied to a scientific grammar are above all completeness and consistency. Their description categories should not simply name grammatical phenomena, but should be precisely defined and systematically derived in a general system of grammatical structure. Such systems, which are also general enough to cover languages of different types in a uniform grid, are examined by linguistics . Such scientific work can also be characterized as "problem grammars". They do not necessarily have the right to a complete description of all grammatical phenomena of a language, but often only examine selected areas in the light of a certain methodology, but these are often also linguistically comparative. In German grammar of use, e.g. B. Textbooks for German as a foreign language, rules are formulated from the perspective of teaching learners certain learning steps and the acquisition of certain communicative skills and to guide them to an intuitive mastery of the language. Representations of the rules of German grammar from language textbooks and from scientific works can therefore sometimes differ significantly. The article at hand is about the description of German grammar, not about how to convey it, so the view of usage grammars is less weighted in the presentation in case of doubt.
The parts of speech in German
There is no complete agreement on the exact number and classification of the parts of speech in German, but first a group of main parts of speech can be distinguished, which are particularly important and also undisputed, especially noun , verb and adjective . On the one hand, these can be inflected in German , i.e. i.e., form different word forms (also: inflection forms). At the same time, they also represent the numerically largest classes. The latter results from their property of being “open classes”; In other words , they can be expanded to include new words as required through regular word formation processes , but also through borrowing . They are also content words (in contrast to words that only have a grammatical function; however, it is important to note the existence of auxiliary verbs , which are verbs but not content words).
In contrast, closed classes are parts of speech that cannot be regularly expanded by new members. At best, new members can arise through unpredictable transitions that affect individual words. The closed classes also include words that have no meaning in terms of content but express grammatical information, for example articles and some prepositions (see below).
Noun, verb, adjective as main parts of speech
The three parts of speech noun, verb and adjective are characterized in German by the fact that they develop rich inflected forms. They are also the classes that most regularly take part in word formation processes, as a result of which they can be converted into one another (see below):
- Nouns inflect for the features case (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative) and number (singular, plural).
- Adjectives are an open class in German (but not in all languages). They show inflection forms for the characteristics case-number-gender and strong / weak.
- Verbs can on the one hand take on different forms of the infinitive , on the other hand appear in finite forms, which mark tense, mode and congruence with the subject. The finite word forms of the verb itself are limited to a series of forms of the present tense (present) and a series of forms of the past tense, with each of them indicative and subjunctive. All other time stages of German are not based on word forms, but on connections with auxiliary verbs (which in turn show the same word forms as the full verbs ). Unlike in English, there is no evidence in German that auxiliary verbs belong to a different grammatical category than full verbs.
Further inflected parts of speech (declinable)
Article (controversial): This class includes the definite (definite) and the indefinite (indefinite) article. Articles introduce noun groups with which they agree in the inflectional features.
In recent linguistics, instead of articles , the class of determinatives (also called article words ),which includes more words, is sometimesused.
- Pronouns (controversial):
- Pronouns are traditionally listed as a separate part of speech alongside the other parts of speech, but are difficult to distinguish. In the linguistically oriented literature in particular, pronouns are often not listed as a separate part of speech, but divided up among the various other parts of speech that they can replace.
- Besides clearly pronominal elements as a pronoun also those variants are traditionally referred to by articles that are automatically used (eg, the second occurrence of. One in: "I want one . Coffee - I also want one "). On the other hand, some companions of the noun are generally referred to as pronouns despite their similarity to articles. This is the case for possessives , as well as for a variant of the indefinite article that expresses a negative: the form none . This form behaves in everything as a combination of “k + a”, with the only difference that neither has a plural as well. The stock of forms of none is like that of the possessive mine .
- It should be noted that adverbs that have the function of "pro-forms" are not classified as pronouns, as they do not have any declination forms ( pronominal adverbs such as before or relative adverbs such as relative clause introductory where ).
- Incidentally, the exact demarcation between articles, pronouns and adjectives, together with any other classes such as quantifiers, numerals, etc. is controversial. The Duden grammar summarizes a part of speech “article words and pronouns” and counts numerals as adjectives.
- Participles (controversial): See below in the Participles section as a special case between word formation and conjugation
Unflexible parts of speech
- Adverbs : Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, prepositions or larger units that are formed from these, and that have no uses where they show inflection. Occasionally you can also have self-dependent supplements. The functions described can, however, also be taken over in German by adjectives in the function of an adverbial definition. Adverbs are only the words that cannot be traced back to adjectives:
|a common mistake (adjective) - this often goes wrong (adverbial use of the adjective)|
|a mistake that occurs often (adverb)|
- Adverbs count as an open class in German because there are a few cases of productive endings that are added to adjectives for certain adverbial uses ( see below ).
The following parts of speech, however, form closed classes:
- Prepositions : They are non-inflectable words that are connected with exactly one addition, usually a noun group, to which they then assign a case. Representatives of this part of speech appear before and after in German, but for the sake of simplicity the trailing ones are often referred to as "prepositions", although the term postposition would be more appropriatefor them. For this extended concept of the preposition there is also the more appropriate term adposition .
- Conjunctions : These are divided into two sub-types: co-ordinating conjunctions that connect two similar parts of sentences (no matter what kind), as well as subordinate conjunctions that introduce subordinate clauses.
- Particles in the narrower sense and interjections : They form a residual class, the delimitation of which from the adverbs (see above) is controversial. They do not develop any word forms, do not require any additions and are moreover defined in the Germanic tradition by the fact that, in contrast to adverbs, they are “not suitable for advance notice”, i. H. they cannot be in the first place of a main clause before the finite verb. Interjections are completely independent words, particles can partially be used to modify other words such as adjectives and adverbs.
Derivative relationships in the open word classes
Derivation is primarily understood as the formation of new words from an existing stem by adding an affix (for problems such as derivation using umlaut or without marking, see the main article). The three main word classes noun, adjective and verb can be regularly converted into one another in this way, which is precisely one reason that makes them open classes (the meaning function of the affixes is not considered here):
|free (adj.) → freedom (noun)|
|Freedom (noun) → freedom-like (adj.)|
|trenn (en) (vb) → Trenn-ung (noun)|
|Computer (noun) → computer-isieren (vb)|
|mach (en) (vb) → mach-bar (adj.)|
|active (adj.) → activate (vb)|
Adverbs take part in this system in a restricted form. Adjectives have a use as an adverb of the way in an unmodified form, but can adverbs in any other function (as sentential adverbs) with an affix method of payment can be formed.
|happy: - a happy coincidence (adjective) - luckily it turned out that way. (Adverb)|
|awkward: - an awkward movement (adjective) - awkwardly he dropped it.|
In individual cases, an adjective can also be derived from an adverb with the ending -ig :
|alone - alone , formerly - formerly|
A rich system of prefixes and (verbal) particles is characteristic of the verb vocabulary of German .
With prefixes and verb particles, many verbs with sometimes unpredictable new meanings can be formed from a verb stem. The distinction between prefix and particle refers to the fact that particles can be separated from verbs, but prefixes cannot:
|Detachable: Particles (e.g. um, ab, ein )|
|change - we get here around - By driving without order to increase|
|Not separable: prefixes (e.g. be, ver, um- (!))|
|drive around - we drive around the traffic jam. - to avoid the traffic jam|
The question of whether verbal prefixes and particles should also regularly count among the word formation affixes is debatable, since prefixes have some special properties compared to suffixes . However, you can change the transitivity of a verb and also bring new meanings, such as in the Verbpaar: work (intransitive) - something be working (transitive). In some cases you also have verbs in front of you which, apart from the prefix / particle, contain only a nominal root, e.g. B. Roof - roof .
Composition is the formation of compound words, i. H. Further training not by adding an ending, but by combining it with a complete second word stem. As in the majority of languages, in German the right part determines the characteristics of the entire compound (the right part is the head ). Otherwise, the compositional possibilities of German do not differ significantly from other languages, one noticeable difference is only that the German spelling allows for compound words to be written together (whereas in English, for example, the parts are predominantly written separately).
The most important types of compound nouns in German are compound nouns (i.e. with noun as a right-hand term, abbreviated below as “N”) and compound adjectives (“A”), e.g. B .:
|Sunglasses + glasses||(N + N)|
|Red + wine '||(A + N)|
|Mixer + device||(V + N)|
|see + sick||(N + A)|
|wet + cold||(A + A)|
|learn + able||(V + A)|
On the other hand, compound verbs can only be found to a limited extent, for example in formations such as “stir fry” or “rotary drilling”. In the case of formations such as "upside down" the question arises whether it is actually word formation and not a syntactic connection, because these connections are separated in the German main clause, in contrast to cases of word formation that cannot be separated, but precisely because of this problems and are not very acceptable when placed in front of the sentence:
|She can easily stand upside down for an hour.||-||She has been “upside down” for an hour.|
|Then stir fry for 3 minutes. (in the recipe)||-||* You “stir” it for 3 minutes. (ungrammatical)|
Formation of word forms: Declination
In classical grammar, which is based on Latin, the term “ nouns in the broader sense” describes a superordinate category that includes all declinable parts of speech, including nouns , adjectives and pronouns . Their inflection (i.e. the development of word forms) is collectively referred to as declination; this term also extends to the inflection of articles.
The characteristics according to which the German declines are
- Number (for all declinable parts of speech)
- Case (all)
- Gender (fixed in the noun, congruence in the other parts of speech)
- strong-mixed-weak as an inflectional feature of adjectives
- This latter characteristic describes a variable form in adjectives, with which they react to the type of the accompanying article - to be distinguished from the designation of the declension classes of nouns as "strong / mixed / weak", which is not a variable characteristic and also no adaptation of the forms triggers other parts of speech, see German declension # Strong, weak and mixed declensions of nouns
Procedure of nominal flexion
In the noun, the nominative singular is the basic form. The plural of nouns can be displayed using different methods:
- Appending a suffix - e.g. B. the pipe → the pipe e
- the variation of a vowel ( umlaut ) - e.g. As the mother → M u tter
- both means - z. As the tree → B similar to e
- Leave the basic form - z. B. the teacher → the teacher
- a special plural ending with stem change (mostly with foreign words) - z. B. the atlas - the atlas
In all other cases, features are expressed by endings, or they are not given any visible marking.
Number of nouns
- Masculine and neutral nouns form the plural with -e (often with an additional umlaut): Ding e , B ä um e , noun e .
- Feminine form the plural with - (e) n: women en , ball n .
- Some proper names, some abbreviations, many foreign words, onomatopoeia and nouns that end in an unstressed vowel in the basic form form the plural with -s: Müller s , Uni s , Test s , Auto s , Töff-töff s , Oma s .
There are some more specific patterns as exceptions to this:
- Some masculine and neuter form the plural on "- (e) n": Bär en , Bote n .
- Some monosyllabic masculine and neuter nouns form the plural in "-er" (often with additional umlaut): H ä us he , a child he , M ä nn it .
- Some feminine nouns form the plural of "-e" (always with additional umlaut): B ä nk e , K u h e , N ö t e .
- Few feminine form the plural without suffix, but with an umlaut: M u tter, T ö daughters.
- Most of the masculine / neuter on "-el", "-en", "-er", "-lein" or "-chen" as well as some neuter that begin with "Ge" and end in "-e" are also in Plural in the basic form: girl, carriage, teacher, structure.
- der atla s → die atlases (also: die atlases)
- the Mechanism us → The Mechanism s
- die Pizz a → die Pizz en (also: die Pizzas)
- das Sol o → die Sol i (also: die Solos)
- das Tax i → die Tax en (also: die Taxis)
- the vis around → the vis a or the vis s
There are also words in which two to a maximum of four plural formations occur, whereby the meaning of the two can differ:
- → word the word e (z. B. in words of thanks ), W ö rt he (z. B. in Dictionary )
- Young → Young s , Young s
- Man → M ä nn it , man s (z. B. in Etzel's men ), Man (z. B. in three men )
It should also be mentioned that nouns such as Kaufmann / Kauffrau or Obmann / Obfrau form their plural in a gender-neutral manner by adding “-people” (instead of “-men” or “-women”): business people , ob people .
The declension of a noun can be in the singular as well as in the plural. B. in addition to the dative singular also a dative plural of every noun. The different plural endings are also decisive for the classification of the noun in a declension class.
Gender of nouns
German has three genera ((word, language) genders):
In the plural, the distinction between the genera (e.g. in the article) disappears, in contrast to most Romance languages .
Although there are no real rules, regularities can be observed in the allocation of the genera with regard to the word endings:
- Many typical endings for masculine denote people, e.g. B. -är, -and, -ant, -ast, -at, -er, -et, -eur, -ier, -iker, -ikus, -ist, -ling, -ologe, -or . The endings -asmus and -ismus also indicate the male gender (pleonasmus, socialism). Adding the suffix -in usually leads to the corresponding feminine designation (the millionaire → the millionaire, the sociologist → the sociologist).
- Almost all nouns that end in -a are feminine. The nouns ending in -e are also mostly female, but the group of personal names ending in -e (the messenger, the Swede, the male) is a major exception - here it is male nouns. In addition, the endings -heit, -keit, -schaft and -ung indicate female gender. The foreign word endings -ade, -age, -anz, -ase, -ei, -elle, -enz / -ienz, -ere / -iere, -ette, -ie, -ik, -ion / -tion are also typical for this , -itis, -ive, -ose, -sis, -ur.
- The diminishing final syllables -chen and -lein make every noun - regardless of gender - a neuter ( the angel → the angel, the woman → the mistress). Collective terms that begin with the syllable “Ge” are all neuter (bushes, conversation, drumming).
It is striking that sex (natural gender) and gender (grammatical gender) can differ (the hostage, the child, the girl, the tramp, the woman, the horse).
In addition, for some nouns only the gender provides information about the respective meaning: B. the merit a salary or income, the merit, on the other hand, the achievements of a person or institution (meaning-related nouns). Similarly, the rope means a rope, while the rope means a form of precipitation (nouns that are not related).
Case of nouns
The four case forms that are differentiated in German are:
- Nominative (who-case, 1st case)
- Genitive (Wes (sen) case, 2nd case)
- Dative (Whom case, 3rd case)
- Accusative (Wen case, 4th case).
The designation of the cases by numbering as above corresponds to the most common type of listing; It should be noted, however, that other lists are sometimes used, e.g. B. nominative - accusative - dative - genitive (according to the frequency of occurrence). In contrast to ancient Greek , Latin and Polish, for example , there is no independent vocative in German (salutation case), but salutations are usually in the nominative: " Kater, get lost!" Or " Peter, come to eat at last!" Except for a few foreign words from Latin for which the Latin vocative form can be used (e.g. Jesus → Jesu, Christ → Christe).
The case forms of the German nouns are listed in the following table. There are superordinate types that are called “strongly declined nouns” (here classes S1 to S7), further “weakly declined nouns” (here classes W1-W2), “mixed forms” (here M1-M2) and special forms (here F1-F2). Overall, it can be seen that the singular genitive of masculine and neuter nouns is clearly marked ( - (e) s ); In the dative singular, a specific ending (- "e") has become quite rare (in the case of e , the man e ); In the dative plural, all nouns (with the exception of a few foreign words) have their own ending - "n", which follows the respective plural form (of foreign words n , for men n , for young people n ).
The endings listed below are added to the stem of the respective noun as in the example. The symbol “⸚” means umlaut in the declination stem, the character “-∅” means no ending is added. The endings given after the name of the declension class are those of the genitive singular and nominative plural.
|S1 (m./n.): - (e) s, ⸚e (e.g. the mountain → of the mountain (s) s, the mountains OR the tree → of the tree (s) s, the trees)|
|S2 (m./n.): - (e) s, ⸚er (e.g. the picture → of the picture (s) s, the pictures OR the forest → of the forest (s) s, the forests)|
|S3 (f.): -∅, ⸚e (e.g. the force → the force, the forces)|
|S4 (m./n.): - (e) s, -e (e.g. the sheep → of the sheep (e) s, the sheep)|
|S5 (m./n.): -S, ⸚∅ (e.g. the floor → of the floor, the floors)|
|S6 (f.): -∅, ⸚∅ (ONLY the mother → the mother, the mothers AND the daughter → the daughter, the daughters)|
|S7 (m./n.): -S, -∅ (e.g. the hunter → the hunter, the hunters)|
|W1 (m./n.): - (e) n, - (e) n (e.g. the bear → the bear, the bears OR the farmer → the farmer, the peasants)|
|Singular||-∅||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n|
|Plural||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n|
|W2 (f.): -∅, - (e) n (e.g. the opinion → the opinion, the opinions)|
|Plural||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n|
|M1 (m./n.): - (e) s, - (e) n (e.g. the state → of the state (s) s, the states OR the eye → of the eye, the eyes)|
|Plural||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n|
|M2 (m./n.): - (e) ns, - (e) n (e.g. the name → the name, the names OR the heart → the heart, the hearts)|
|Singular||-∅||- (e) ns||- (e, en)||- (n)|
|Plural||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n||- (e) n|
|F1 (m./n.): -S, -s (e.g. the radio → of the radio, the radio)|
|F2 (f.): -∅, -s (e.g. the camera → the camera, the cameras)|
In summary, the types can be characterized as follows:
- strongly declining nouns (classes S1 to S7)
- The nouns in this class have the genitive ending "- (e) s" and / or are given an umlaut in the stem when forming the plural. Only the vowels a → ä, au → äu, o → ö and u → ü are changed. If none of these vowels are present in the root of the word, no umlauts are made. The umlaut of double vowels such as is done to single umlaut (e.g. hall → hall). Furthermore, nominative and accusative are always identical in the singular; With masculine and neuter the ending "- (e)" can be added in the dative singular. The ending "- (e) n" occurs here exclusively in the dative plural.
- nouns that can be declined weakly (classes W1 and W2)
- The nouns in this class neither have the genitive ending “- (e) s” nor are they umlaut. Rather, the ending "- (e) n" in various cases (especially in the plural) is characteristic. This is sometimes omitted in everyday language, but must be in the standard language.
- Mixed forms (classes M1 and M2)
- The nouns in this class are without exception masculine and neuter. The flexion occurs as a mixture of strong and weak declination, i. This means that the singular is declined strongly (genitive ending “- (e) s” in M1 or “- (e) ns” in M2) and the plural is weak (no umlaut, plural ending “- (e) n”).
- special types of declination (classes F1 and F2)
- For foreign words, the declination is often done in a different way, e.g. B. after F1 or F2. Sometimes the declination of foreign words is also Germanized, i.e. that is, they are declined according to one of the above classes. So z. B. numerous foreign words inflected into “-and”, “-ant”, “-at”, “-ent”, “-et”, “-it”, “-ist” and “-ot” according to class W1.
Declination of the article
German knows at least two types of articles that differ in terms of their definiteness : the definite article “der (die, das)” and the indefinite article “ein (ein, ein)”. A negative form of the indefinite, namely none, should possibly also be included (see above under "Parts of speech" for the delimitation difficulties with articles and pronouns).
The articles are declined according to case, number and gender, as shown in the table below. The shapes of the article are congruence shapes; i.e., depend on the characteristics of the noun they accompany. Since not all case features are expressed on the noun, the case marking on the article or the combination of article and noun often results in a clear case marking.
The indefinite article is identical to the attributive numeral for the number one. In German he has - in contrast to z. B. to French - no plural form. In addition, the indefinite article can also be used independently in the manner of a pronoun and can then also have plural forms, e.g. B. in one - the other .
The declension of the masculine articles is most pronounced and clearly differentiates both with definite and indefinite articles. The neuter articles are identical in their declension to the masculine in the genitive and dative. In contrast, in the singular of the feminine declension there is a syncretism between nominative and accusative as well as between genitive and dative. The distinction between grammatical genders is completely omitted in the plural, which distinguishes German from all Romance languages.
Declination of pronouns
In German grammar, pronouns (pronouns) are usually divided into seven categories: personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, relative pronouns, reflexive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, indefinite pronouns and interrogative pronouns. A peculiarity of the German (as well as the Greek) language is that instead of nouns you can use not only "real" pronouns , but also expressions similar to the article such as the demonstrative (this one) : He's crazy! / Where do I know that anyway?
Personal pronouns (personal pronouns) stand for people and things, e.g. B. I, him, you .
Possessive pronouns (possessive pronouns) express a relationship of belonging, ownership or possession and are usually used as a companion to a noun, e.g. B. my house, your cat, your car, his dog.
The pronouns entered in the individual fields of the table are in the order masculine - feminine - neuter (gender of the reference noun). In the 3rd person singular, both the masculine and feminine possessive pronouns are given.
Relative pronouns (related pronouns) introduce relative clauses and stand for the reference noun of the relative clause in the main clause. A distinction is made between the relative pronouns of which, which, which , which, which , for example , are used only in written language , from the somewhat more formal ones . B. the person he was watching ↔ the person he was watching.
The relative pronouns which, which, which have no genitive; instead, the genitive of the relative pronoun der, die, das can be used.
The German reflexive himself can not be declined; it takes on the function of a dative or accusative of the third person in unchanged form; in the remaining cases (i.e. first and second person, as well as all genitives) the forms of the personal pronoun apply.
Demonstrative pronouns (pointing pronouns) are - similar to the possessive pronouns - mostly used as a companion to a noun, e.g. B. this highway, that way, the same street.
Important groups of demonstrative pronouns are the, die, das , this, this, this, and that, that, that as well as the one, that, that and the same, the same, the same.
The declination of the demonstrative pronouns der, die, is analogous to the corresponding relative pronouns. That, that, that becomes like this, this, this declined, the same, the same, the same as that, that, that.
(*) The genitive is increasingly often "these" ("this year"), corresponding to the long-ago transition in strongly declined adjectives.
Declination of adjectives
In German, the adjective forms special forms of inflection when it is used as an attribute . It then shows agreement in case, gender and number with the noun. In a linguistic comparison it is unusual that it also takes a different form in combination with a certain article than in combination with an indefinite article. We speak of "strong" or "weak" inflected forms of the adjective, which are individually regulated as follows:
- If the adjective is placed next to the reference noun without an article, the "strong" form appears, e.g. B. black coffee , as well as some number adjectives and indefinite pronouns, e.g. B. many happy hours . The strong declination is characterized by the fact that it differentiates more specific forms for certain inflection features.
- The “weak” declension appears when the adjective comes after the definite article or a comparable declining part of speech (e.g. demonstrative pronoun) (the big rock, this strong storm). This also applies if the specific article is merged with a preposition such as B. in the abbreviations "am", "ans" "beim", "im", "ins" "vom", "zum", "zur" (near the big rock, to the new bridge).
- A “mixed” declension is used when the adjective comes after the indefinite article or a comparable declining part of speech (e.g. possessive pronouns) (of an old wall, my new bike). Here the strong form appears for the singular of the masculine and the neuter, otherwise the weak forms.
These forms are also used when an adjective is substantiated , and this also when it is a matter of lexically frozen forms that are pure nouns in today's German, e.g. B .: an official he / the official e .
(*) 200 years ago the ending -es was still common, e.g. B. “Good cheer” in the poem Death and the Maiden by Matthias Claudius. In antiquated texts this ending occurs long after and sometimes even today. The modern ending -en can also be heard increasingly in the genitive of “this” (“this year”).
(**) If there are several consecutive, strongly declining adjectives, the strong ending “-em” only needs to be used once, then the weak ending “-en” can also be used ( in dense, high m grass or in dense, high n grass ). Otherwise: If more than one behind the other adjectives should be declined, so they have the same endings ( "a thick it but well there and entertaining it book").
Further, in flexion changed a few adjectives of the strain (z. B. "high" → a ho h he Tree, a ho h s tree, etc.).
Forms of increase as a case of doubt between word formation and declension
Adjectives usually form forms in three stages of intensification (forms of comparison), except where this is excluded for reasons of meaning. The classification of the comparative and the superlative between word formation and inflection is controversial.
- Positive / basic form (beautiful, sluggish, a long way)
- Comparative, usually with the ending "-er", with the ending "-r" for adjectives with a basic form of "-e" (nicer, sluggish, another way, the sluggish one)
- Superlative, usually with the ending "-st", with the ending "-est" for adjectives with the basic form of - "s", "-ß", "-sch", "-d", "-t", "-x" or "-z" (the most beautiful, the laziest, the furthest ...)
Forms of increase often require umlaut , e.g. B. cold → k ä lter on → k ä oldest, large → → greater greatest, dumb → d ü mmer on → d ü mmsten. Sometimes the increase with and without umlaut is also possible, e.g. B. Wet → n ä sser → the n ä ssesten or wet → n a the n → ter a ssesten. They can also be irregular and consonants change or Suppletion have: good → bess he → at best , much → More → at the most , like → better → prefer, high → hö h he → highest close → detail → on nä ch th , little → less → least (next to: few → less → least).
While comparatives are typical of adjectives, there are also a few comparative forms of adverbs, e.g. B. often - more often . Most of the time, however, there are substitute forms ( suppletion ): soon - rather - most likely, gladly - preferrably - most like, often - more often - most frequently
Superlatives have a special form when they are not attributive, i.e. in functions in which they cannot be inflected. Here there is an adjective developed with -st in construction with a preposition or particle am:
|the most beautiful song (adjectival)|
|He sings most beautifully (adverbial)|
Formation of word forms: conjugation
With the word forms of the verb , the distinction between finite and infinite is fundamentally important:
- Finite verb forms have characteristics of the categories tense, mode and person, for example: gingst = 2nd person singular, indicative, simple past
- Infinite verb forms do not express the characteristics of tense, mode, and person.
Traditionally, v. a. In school grammars, the term conjugation forms of a verb is often used to only mean the finite forms and exclude infinitives; Infinitives are in any case also inflections of the verb. In this article, conjugation is used in a more general sense, ie as “forming the verb.” In addition to the actual infinitives, the participles of German are also considered non-finite forms.
Inflection for person and tense
The German knows only two tenses formed morphologically (i.e. through word forms), namely present and past tense, with the help of which all tense forms can be formed. Only a few subjunctive forms deviate from the actual past tense derivation (see the separate section on mode).
Perfect, past perfect, future tense I & II are also included in the set of conjugation forms ( paradigm ) of the verb, but they are expressed by combining them with auxiliary verbs (ie "periphrastic") (see below).
For the meaning of each tense form, see the main article on tense
The present tense and past tense forms are formed in regular cases by adding an ending to the root of the verb; the root of the word is obtained in the same way by removing the infinitive ending "- (e) n" or by removing the finite ending: Infinitive tremble-n; Finite: I tremble-e, you tremble-st, he tremble-t, we tremble-n, you tremble-t, she tremble-n; I was shaking, you shivering, he was shaking, we were shaking, you were shaking, they were shaking.
There are two forms of formation of the past tense. In the regular, so-called "weak" verbs, an ending - (e) te appears directly at the stem, in the other ("strong" and irregular) verbs, changes in the word stem are made instead, e.g. B. Change of vowel (ablaut) as in find-en / found.
The personal endings are then added to the respective past tense in the same way for both groups. In the past tense the same personal endings appear almost everywhere as in the present tense; the only exception is that the first and third person singular in the past tense have no endings, but have their own endings in the present tense. (There are other small deviations in the subjunctive, see below in the mode section ). This is summarized in the following table:
The simple past form of a strong verb like find-en / found can be obtained by adding the endings shown above to the simple past form: found, found-est, found, found-en, found-et, found-en
A characteristic of strong verbs is the change in the stem between the infinitive, the past tense and the past participle. The sound changes can be roughly divided into three categories:
- same root in infinitive and past participle: eat → ate → eaten, dig → grub → dug, load → load → load, push → hit → hit
- same original sound in past tense and past participle perfect: offer → bot → commanded, slide → slid → slid, scream → screamed → screamed, lose → lost → lost
- different root sounds in all three verb forms: bergen → barg → geborgen, ask → bat → asked, hang → hung → hung, force → forced → forced
The auxiliary verbs sein and have also show irregularities in the present tense, as the form of the stem changes:
- his: I am, you are, he is, we are, you are, they are; Past tense: I was, etc.
- have: I have, you have, he has, we have, you have, they have; Past tense: I had, etc.
For more specifics see the main article German conjugation
A special feature of German forms is that the 1st and 3rd person plural are always identical, this also applies to the very irregular verbs haben and sein , as seen above. (Except for the verb “sein” (we are, they are), these forms are also identical to the infinitive.) This coincidence of forms ( syncretism ) between 1st and 3rd person plural can also be found in all German dialects, although it does there it is partly about different looking forms.
Participles as a special case between word formation and conjugation
German knows two forms, which are called participles or German middle words : the so-called participle I (present participle, first middle word, middle word of the present), and the past participle (past participle, past participle, second middle word, middle word of the past).
- Past participle
This form is created by adding the ending -end to the stem of the verb . This participle always behaves like an adjective and can be used to add larger units (possibly transitive constructions and larger sentence-valued units) as an attribute to a noun; it is inflected like an adjective:
|Infinitive : (to) accompany the tourists|
|Participle I : the [accompanying the tourists] -end-e guide|
- Past participle
This form is formed by an ending -t or -en (depending on the verb class, see German conjugation ), as well as an additional prefix ge , if the verb does not have another prefix. Behind this form, however, there are two uses that have no common grammatical properties. On the one hand, the past participle can also be an adjective:
|x cleans the bathroom||-||the cleaned bathroom|
|x pulls the carriage||-||a carriage drawn by two horses|
|the mail arrives||-||the mail that has arrived|
The first example shows a participle “cleaned”, which indicates prematurity (the bathroom has been cleaned beforehand) and contains a passive effect (the person who cleaned is not named). The second example shows that the prematurity effect does not occur with all verbs, especially not with state verbs. The third example shows that the passive effect does not occur in all verbs either (in the case of verbs such as eintriegen , it does not occur regularly because it is a so-called unaccusative verb ).
The form of the past participle in auxiliary verb constructions has a different use . In the perfect tense it behaves like an infinitive and in some constructions it also has the simple infinitive form as a variant (namely in modal verbs like must , the so-called substitute infinitive )
|(that) the horses pulled the wagon into the barn|
|(that) the horses the car in the barn have pull must (or "must draw have")|
In this construction there is no passive effect with the form of the participle II. The past participle appears as part of the passive form together with the auxiliary verb werden , but then the auxiliary verb is responsible for the passive effect. In turn , there is no prematurity effect involved in becoming -passive (what is known as the process passive). Here, too, there are constructions with a similar meaning in which a simple infinitive appears in the same function (leave a passive-like construction with it ):
|(that) the carriage in the barn drawn to be|
|(that) the car does not pull left|
Due to such observations, a different element than in the case of the adjectival participle is assumed here, namely as one of three types of the infinitive in German (the so-called "3rd status of the infinitive").
The simple infinitive of German consists of the verb stem with the ending - (e) n . In some infinitive particle appears to be complementary to these infinitive; Although this is usually written as a separate word, it behaves like another inflected form with the attribute infinitive. Depending on the accompanying verb infinitive with or without a to demands as shown below on the Hilfsverbkonstruktionen in the next section. These two variants are also (after Gunnar Bech ) as “1. Status of the Infinitive "( -en -Infinitive) and" 2. Status of the infinitive "( to -infinitive). The so-called participle form, which appears in auxiliary verb constructions and which is also a variant of an infinitive, is therefore also called the 3rd status.
The present participle to -end is traditionally also as a non-finite form, but always behaves morphologically as an adjective, so it can not be placed directly in the same row.
Constructions with auxiliary verbs
The compound tenses
The forms of the past tense perfect and past perfect are formed with the conjugated auxiliary verbs haben or sein and the past participle (past participle II). The auxiliary verb is in the present tense with the perfect tense itself, in the past perfect tense in the past tense: I searched ↔ I had searched, he drove ↔ he drove. The participle II usually consists of “ge” + infinitive stem + “- (e) t” , with irregular (strong) verbs it often has the ending “-en”: tremble → trembled, play → played, go → went. In verbs with a prefix, “ge” can be omitted from the past participle or can be placed within the participle: forgotten → I forgot, despised → she despised him, invited → I invited her.
As a rule, the perfect and past perfect are formed with the auxiliary verb have : I played, he searched, we forgot, you ate. The auxiliary verb sein appears with a certain group of intransitive verbs (see unaccusative verb ) and with some verbs of movement ( I swam, you were gone, you came, they drove ).
The future tense is conjugated with the auxiliary be and formed the infinitive: I'm going to play, it's going to rain, we will go.
The Future Perfect is the conjugated auxiliary verb to be , the past participle (past participle) and the auxiliary verb for Perfect / Past Perfect ( have or be under the same rules as above) formed in the infinitive: I'll be gone, it will be played, you will have built.
Diathesis / Genus Verbi
German distinguishes between active and passive. The verb forms treated so far are all in the active, which puts the "perpetrator" of an action in the foreground. The passive voice, on the other hand, is the "perpetrator" - averted expressive form of the verb, also called suffering form. A third genus Verbi of the medium , which was found in some Indo-European languages, is not explicitly differentiated in German, its functions are taken over by a construction in the active or with the addition of a reflexive pronoun (example: "The book reads well.").
The passive is formed from auxiliary verbs together with the past participle. A distinction is made between the process passive , which is usually formed with the auxiliary verb are , and a so-called state passive. While the process passive expresses the course of the action, the state passive usually describes the result of the action (see resultative ). There is also the so-called recipient passive with the auxiliary verb get (or colloquially get ).
In German there are the following modes :
- the indicative (reality form): "Paul is coming."
- the imperative (command): "Paul, come!"
- and the subjunctive (possibility form): "Paul come. Paul is coming. Paul would come. "
A distinction is made between "real" imperative forms without personal pronouns ("Geh!", "Geht!") And substitute forms with personal pronouns that are used as a substitute for imperative forms that do not exist ("Let's go!", "Go!") . Like the forms without personal pronouns, these substitute forms are to be seen as addressing a person or group of people present. The 1st person plural (“Let's go!”) Can also represent an adhortative linguistically ; the forms with the polite salutation “you” (“go!”) are syntactically directed to the 3rd person plural (“go!”) and can therefore also be interpreted as jussive .
In the singular, the inflected imperative is formed in German by using the verb form of the 2nd person singular present, but omitting the ending "-st" in addition to the personal pronoun: you work → work !, you learn → learn! In the plural only the personal pronoun of the 2nd person plural present tense is left out: you work → work !, you learn → learn! In the case of strong verbs with umlaut in the 2nd and 3rd person singular present tense, the vowel change in the imperative singular is omitted: du llaufst → Lauf !. If the imperative singular does not have an “-e” as an ending, one can be added: Learn! or learn!
- Imperative forms for “to be” and “to know”: Be! / Be !, Know! / Know!
- Strong verbs with a vowel change in the imperative cannot have an -e as an ending, it just says: Run !, Throw !, Give !, Eat!
- Verbs such as “arithmetic ” or “breathe”, in which an e is omitted from the root of the word (compared to, for example, “arithmetic rule”, “breathing air”) form their imperative singular with the ending “-e”: calculate !, breathe !
- Verbs on “-eln” and “-ern” also form their imperative singular with the ending “-e”: Wander !, Collect!
- In the verbs on “-eln”, the e in the root of the word can also be omitted: Collect! or collect!
In general, the subjunctive describes the unreal: wishes, guesses, possibilities, etc. Ä. A distinction is made between two standard forms, in the relationship of which tense differentiation no longer plays a role today:
- Subjunctive I
Instead of the subjunctive I and II one uses - v. a. Colloquially - often the so-called "subjunctive substitute form" (also called "dignity form", "conditional" or "subjunctive III" etc.).
One distinguishes the following forms in the subjunctive I:
- Subjunctive I of simultaneity (also: conjunctive present / present tense)
- Subjunctive I of prematurity (also: subjunctive past / perfect)
- Subjunctive I of Nachzeitigkeit (also: Konjunktiv Future) - two variants: Subjunctive Future I and Future II
The following forms are distinguished in the subjunctive II:
- Subjunctive II of simultaneity (also: Subjunctive past tense)
- Subjunctive II of prematurity (also: subjunctive past perfect)
- Subjunctive II of Nachzeitigkeit (also: Konjunktiv Zukunft) - two variants: Subjunctive Future I and Future II
Both in the subjunctive I and the subjunctive II the future tense is hardly used; instead of them one uses - as is also common in the indicative - the present tense and possibly lexical means (especially adverbs of time such as tomorrow, in three years).
Formation of the subjunctive
The subjunctive I is basically derived from the infinitive stem of the verb (in some explanations one refers to the present stem, but then the modal verbs must apply as an exception), followed by the suffix "-e-" and the respective personal ending. In the 1st and 3rd person plural, suffix and ending are combined; with the 1st and 3rd person singular there is no personal ending.
Infinitive word stem + e + personal ending
|1st person singular||come + e||I'm coming|
|2nd person singular||come + e + st||you come|
|3rd person singular||come + e||he's coming|
|1st person plural||come + e + en||we come|
|2nd person plural||come + e + t||you come|
|3rd person plural||come + e + en||they are coming|
The subjunctive II is basically derived from the past indicative of the verb. In weak verbs, the subjunctive II corresponds formally to the past tense indicative. In strong verbs, it is formed by combining the preterite stem of the indicative with the suffix "-e-" and the respective personal ending (with the same exceptions and amalgamations as in the present subjunctive), with an umlaut added - as is usual with strong verbs.
Preterite word stem + e + personal ending
|1st person singular||came + e (+ umlaut)||I came|
|2nd person singular||came + e + st (+ umlaut)||you would come|
|3rd person singular||came + e (+ umlaut)||he would come|
|1st person plural||came + e + en (+ umlaut)||we would come|
|2nd person plural||came + e + t (+ umlaut)||you would come|
|3rd person plural||came + e + en (+ umlaut)||they would come|
The compound tenses (formally corresponding to the indicative perfect, past perfect, future I and future II) are "transferred" to the subjunctive I or II by using the auxiliary verb (to have / to be / to be) according to the basic rule (derivation from the infinitive resp. Present stem or from the past tense form).
|3rd person singular subjunctive I perfect||he had come|
|3rd person singular subjunctive I future tense I||he will come|
|3rd person singular subjunctive I future II||he would have come|
|3rd person singular subjunctive II past perfect||he would have come|
|3rd person singular subjunctive II future I||he would come|
|3rd person singular subjunctive II future II||he would have come|
If the subjunctive II is in harmony with another form of the same (or another) verb, the stem can be changed due to the likelihood of confusion; however, these special forms usually do not adhere to certain educational rules. Examples for this are:
- "Help": past tense (I) helped → "real" subjunctive (I) one-half → unison with the first person singular present tense of the verb (I help) → subjunctive (I) would help
- “Scold”: simple past (I) scold → “actual” subjunctive II (I) scold → consonance with 1st and 3rd person singular simple past of “scarf” (I scolded, he scolded) → subjunctive II (I) scolded
However, both forms are possible in some cases (as for example in "stand". "(I) stands " or "(I) would ").
As with the indicative, many Germans tend to use the respective present tense for the future, so that the subjunctive II future tense I became more or less meaningless and became the so-called "subjunctive substitute form" (dignity form, conjunctive III according to Becher and Bergenholtz (1985), Conditional) could be "converted": I would come. / He would go with you.
Use of the subjunctive
The subjunctive I is basically used to render:
- indirect speech, especially to illustrate the mediation of what is said
- "The Chancellor said there would be no further tax increases." (= She did say that, but it does not necessarily have to be correct and / or correspond to the opinion of the author.)
- own, previously expressed opinions, views and thoughts
- “I already said I was done . "
- Other people's opinions, views, and thoughts
- “She was of the opinion that men were also obliged to help out in the household . "
- fulfillable wishes in a sophisticated speech
- " Be noble , helpful and good!"
- Requests to a third person, especially in connection with the polite form of address "you" in the 3rd person plural
- "God save the king!"
- " Be so good, go ahead!"
- (rarely) instructions in manuals etc. Ä.
- " Take four eggs, a pound of flour ..."
The subjunctive II basically expresses the following:
- Reproduction of indirect speech when the subjunctive I cannot be distinguished from the indicative
- "Peter said the children would be home at 6 o'clock." (Instead of coming , which is identical to the indicative present tense)
- Reproduction of indirect speech when doubting the content of the report is to be expressed
- "Hitler was of the opinion that international Jewry was to blame for the outbreak of the world war."
- unreal, conditionally possible or speculative facts
- "I would previously there have been , if I'm not stuck in traffic would have been. "
- unreal, unworkable plans or wishes
- "If I have more money would have , could I buy a house."
Substitute forms of various kinds are increasingly replacing the subjunctive I and II in everyday language, but also more or less strongly in written language (sometimes this is an individual question or a question of style):
- The subjunctive I is replaced by its equivalent in the indicative (possibly with the addition of lexical means such as alleged, presumably, possibly ) or by the "dignity form"
- "He heard I was always nice been ." → "He heard I 'm supposed to be always nice been ." → "He heard I would be nice to be ."
- The subjunctive II is replaced by the "dignity form"
- "He said they were writing it." → "He said they would the writing ."
In addition, many old subjunctive forms are being replaced by the "dignity form", especially in:
- formal equality of subjunctive and indicative form (subjunctive II of weak verbs)
- "I said " (indicative = subjunctive) → "I would say "
- Presence of parallel and / or outdated forms of the subjunctive II (which go back to outdated simple past forms of these verbs)
- "I throw " ↔ "I throw " → "I would throw "
Synthetic subjunctive forms are strongest in those strong verbs in which the subjunctive II is still clearly recognizable in all persons through umlaut (e.g. I would come, you would come, he would come , etc.).
The status of the “form of dignity” is controversial in linguistics. While some reject it as overly “popular” and accept it only to a very limited extent, others regard it as a “subsidiary form” (within the subjunctive II) and still others as an independent “modern form”, which step by step the old forms (apart from fixed expressions ) will replace. Something similar took place and / or takes place in some of the sister languages of German, e.g. B. in Danish and English.
Syntax: use of the case
Case assignment according to parts of speech
In German, cases can be assigned to verbs, prepositions, adjectives and nouns to their respective additions (i.e., be governed ). Instead of accepting the possibility of assigning a case through adverbs, traditionally an inflexible word that assigns a case is always classified as a preposition. Example:
- A sign is attached to the left ("left" as an adverb)
- A sign is attached to the left of the entrance (“left” as a preposition).
Adjectives can assign genitive or dative, less often accusative. The addition usually comes before the adjective:
- tired of noise (genitive)
- unknown to me (dative)
- used to stress (accusative)
Nouns usually assign genitive to attributes that correspond to a supplement (i.e. cases that can be paraphrased with verb + object). In present-day German, the genitive follows the governing noun:
- the fall of the tyrant
- cf.: overthrow the tyrant
Prepositions also appear with genitive, dative or (often also) accusative. As already mentioned in the section Parts of Speech, additions appear in front or behind.
- despite the bad weather (genitive)
- with the umbrella (dative)
- for the neighbor (accusative)
Some prepositions vary between dative and genitive assignment, whereby the genitive is often perceived as a higher level of style or more written language:
- in spite of the rain / in spite of the rain .
Another type of case change in prepositions is the distinction between dative and accusative assignment to mark a difference in meaning. This occurs regularly with prepositions such as in, an, under, behind ... etc., which are used as a place with dative, but as a direction with accusative:
- in this house (place) - in this house (direction)
- lie under the table (place) - slide under the table (direction).
Verbs can assign accusative, dative or (rarely) genitive to an object . The nominative occurs in German only on the subject of a finite verb (example a) s. u.), with predicative parts of clauses (b) that receive the nominative not through rule, but through congruence (agreement with a subject), and also in the salutation (c).
- (a) The dog barked.
- (b) The dog was his best friend.
- (c) Dear customer, please be patient.
In the case of infinitives, the addition always appears before the verb; With the finite verb, the situation is complicated by the various possible positions of the verb in the sentence, see below under Word order in the main clause .
Case of objects of the verb
The case of the subject
In German, a sentence member only behaves as a subject if it has a nominative (which is not the case in all languages). This can be determined from the fact that it is always the nominative that triggers the match of the verb form, regardless of where the nominative is in the sentence:
|All have en their share get.|
|There have s all get their share.|
|It ha t told the children fairy tales.|
|The children wurd e a tale told.|
Nominative subjects are only used together with finite verbs, whereas the subject is omitted in infinitive clauses.
Supplementary supplements and sentence form
The additions to which a verb assigns a case usually also correspond to "players" in the scene described by the verb (also: actants, arguments ), who thereby have a semantic role . The entirety of the additions required of the verb is also called its valence . The specifications, which come from the valence of a certain verb, determine the structure of a sentence with regard to the number and form of additions that occur; the verb valence is the nucleus of the sentence. In the German grammar tradition, this aspect of sentence structure is also referred to as sentence structure. The sentence structure in this sense does not represent the question of the order in which these parts of the sentence appear.
This can also be formulated in such a way that in German from the property of being a part of a sentence in the nominative, accusative, etc., little can be derived for the position of this part of the sentence; the word order in German is determined by factors other than case and semantic role. Rather, essential influences come from the type of sentence and the conditions of the information structure (i.e. the breakdown of the sentence into old, known information and new information). These factors are covered in the next section. For details on sentence construction plans, see the main article linked above.
Syntax: word order in the main and subordinate clauses
In German, main clauses and subordinate clauses differ in their word order. This difference arises mainly from the fact that the finite verb is put in front in main clauses, which can create the so-called sentence bracket: The finite verb is separated from other components of the predicate. In the following example you can see that only the finite auxiliary verb is at the front of the sentence, all other verbs at the end of the sentence, in the position where all verbs are in the subordinate clause. The finite verb thus forms the left part of a bracket structure, the other parts of the predicate the right part of the bracket structure:
- subordinate clause
|that||unfortunately not the window||has been closed|
- main clause
|The window||is||Unfortunately not||been closed|
Even verb particles are separated from the finite part in this way:
- subordinate clause
|that||unfortunately he doesn't open the window||closed|
- main clause
|He||made||unfortunately not the window||to|
In other words, if the finite verb is in the second position in the propositional sentence, this means that there is a position before the finite verb, which is called the forefield . Any material can be in advance. In the above examples, the subject was in the forefront, but the sentences can be rearranged as required by adding another part of the sentence:
|The window||is||Unfortunately not||been closed|
|Unfortunately||is||the window does not||been closed|
|Has been closed||is||unfortunately not the window|
- (LK = "left bracket"; RK = "right bracket")
With these changes, different emphasis and highlighting effects can occur, which are explained in the article Topicalization .
In question sentences with question words ("W questions"), the question word must be placed in advance for simple supplementary questions; other phrases may appear, but they will not be interpreted as a normal question:
|Whom||have||you the letter||given?|
|You||have||the letter to whom||given?|
If the word to whom is emphasized in the second example , it is most likely to result in an interpretation as a so-called echo question (above all as a request to repeat the wording), but not as a normal information question. An unstressed whom is interpreted as a variant by someone and no longer results in a W-question sentence (at most a yes / no question). In the case of multiple questions, however, only one question word can occupy the apron, in this case the placement of another question word inside the sentence is not a problem:
|who||Has||because with whom||worked together?|
Independent decision-making questions (yes / no questions), on the other hand, require a sentence structure in which the verb is at the beginning of the sentence. The difference to the previous sentence forms is that the finite verb is also placed in front, but that the forefront remains free. Apart from that, the same bracket structure occurs:
|Has||someone my glasses||seen ?|
This so-called verb first position (V1 position) also occurs in imperatives; A subject is usually missing in the imperative when it is added (required in the politeness form), but it appears just like in the question after the verb, never in advance:
|take||the duck out of the bathtub!|
|To take||The duck out of the bathtub!|
(For further uses of the V1 position see the main article).
All in all, the different forms of question and statement sentences can be described by formulating casting rules for two special positions at the beginning of the sentence (leading and left bracket), depending on the sentence type. The description given here (in the context of the so-called field model ) is generally based on special rules for placing parts of sentences in front. In some didactic grammars of German, on the other hand, rules are formulated that start from a sequence of subject - finite verb - remainder , and formulate other sentence forms as a shift of the subject to the right (e.g. also under the keyword inversion ). This way of speaking is then motivated by the fact that sequences of the form “subject - verb - (object, etc.)” are particularly common in German for simple sentences and are therefore particularly striking as a starting point. Descriptions of this kind are never used in academic German grammars, as they do not provide a basis for a systematic derivation of the German sentence forms.
Introductory elements and word order in the subordinate clause
In German there are different ways to mark subordinate clauses with introductory elements:
By subordinate conjunctions (subjunctions), for example that, if, whether, though ...
Conjunctions are a special part of speech that can denote different classes of meaning of subordinate clauses or meaning relationships to the main clause (e.g. if = conditional clause , ob = indirect question clause (corresponds to the yes / no question), although = concessional adverbial clause etc.). The conjunctions are followed by all regular clauses and then all verbs in the end position. In the field model of the German sentence, this corresponds to the sequence:
|that||he unfortunately the window||left open|
|(Conjunction)||(all regular clauses)||(Predicate)|
Through relative pronouns or question pronouns or relative adverbs / question adverbs, for example der, his, who, whom, where, with what.
What they all have in common is that they simultaneously determine the type of the subordinate clause (relative clause or question clause) and represent a part of the subordinate clause themselves. Therefore, unlike conjunctions, they can also be expanded into larger units (e.g. with what, with what, with its help ). In this case, one part of the sentence is moved to the beginning, as is the case in main clauses with W questions. From this it is concluded that question pronouns both in the main clause and in the subordinate clause occupy the forefront, and that relative pronouns in the subordinate clause are to be seen analogously. The position of the left bracket is then not filled (in standard German). Example:
|… What||he now again||forgot|
|(Question pronouns as object)||(Parts of the sentence; obj. Is missing here)||(Predicate)|
- For comparison, the main sentence form of a question sentence:
|What||Has||he now again||to forget?|
|(Question pronouns as object)||(Parts of the sentence; obj. Is missing here)||(infinite parts of the predicate)|
Preceding the verb
The main clauses of the verb second clauses and verb clauses can also occur as subordinate clauses: V2 object clauses after certain verbs such as believing , as well as V1 clauses in the meaning of conditional clauses and some others. Such subordinate clauses are traditionally called "uninitiated subordinate clauses."
For details see the main articles V2 position # verb second clauses as subordinate clauses and V1 position # V1 position in subordinate clauses .
Infinitives as subordinate clauses
A special case is represented by infinitives: Certain infinitive with to have the status of subordinate clauses. This is known as the incoherent construction of the infinitive (as opposed to the coherent construction where the infinitive is part of the compound predicate, like the above examples with multiple verbs in the right bracket). Such sentence-valued infinitives can stand without an introductory element, otherwise there is um as a conjunction in infinitive clauses. The infinite verb remains in its final position under all circumstances.
|[He forgot,…]||the windows upstairs||close|
|[He went back ...]||around||quickly the windows||close|
|(all regular clauses)||(Predicate)|
A noticeable peculiarity is the freedom of word order in German, which means that different parts of the sentence can appear in almost any order:
|a.||that||Children yesterday stink bombs in neighbors' mailboxes||have thrown|
|b.||that||yesterday children neighbors stink bombs in the mailbox||have thrown|
|c.||that||Yesterday children's stink bombs in the neighbors' mailbox||have thrown|
|d.||that||a stink bomb just children in the neighbor's mailbox||would throw.|
A sentence element is a unit that can be moved as a whole in the sentence and placed in front of the main sentence. However, the same units can often be rearranged within the sentence. In the examples above you can see that rearrangements have been made after a conjunction (but nothing can be placed before the conjunction). This case of word order freedom is therefore a phenomenon that takes place in the midfield.
The verb second clause only differs from the subordinate clause in that the preceding field is also filled and the finite verb is in the left brackets instead of a conjunction; In both sentence types, the middle field follows the left bracket (i.e. after conjunction or finite) (see above). The conversion options shown above therefore exist inside the main clause (the clauses that do not belong to the middle field are again highlighted in blue as above):
|a. '||Have it||Children yesterday stink bombs in neighbors' mailboxes||thrown.|
|b. '||Have it||yesterday children neighbors stink bombs in the mailbox||thrown.|
|c. '||Have it||Yesterday children's stink bombs in the neighbors' mailbox||thrown.|
|d. '||Probably would||a stink bomb just children in the neighbor's mailbox||throw.|
|Apron + LK||midfield||RK|
The different sequences in turn trigger different emphasis and accentuation effects. One of the variants usually has a particularly neutral effect, in the above example this is sentence a./a. ' with the sequence “subject - dative object - accusative object - directional adverbial.” Such a sequence is therefore seen in many sentences as a basic sequence, from which, however, one can deviate.
A whole series of principles have been discussed in research on German syntax as causes for the deviation. A very important principle is e.g. B. That a sequence
- "Known information before new information"
will be produced. Sentences c./c. ' act z. B. more natural, as soon as it is assumed that the neighbor has just been mentioned, and sentence d. can practically only be accepted under the condition that a stink bomb attack was already mentioned (here an emphasis on stink bomb and children is necessary in order to make the sentence acceptable). Other influences that are related to the principle just mentioned are z. B .:
- (Lightly stressed) pronouns precede full noun groups
- Definite noun groups precede indefinite ones
Overall, the result is that the word order in German is largely determined by factors of the information structure (e.g. known / new information) and not only (but also) by grammatical functions such as B. Subject / Object. Since there are a number of influencing factors that interact with one another, the interpretation of word order differences and the prediction of permissible or, in the context of acceptable, word order is extremely complex. In addition, the most neutral possible basic order is mostly "nominative before dative before accusative", but with some verbs other sequences appear as the most neutral basic order.
The distinction between neutral-looking basic sequences and less neutral ones can be demonstrated not only in the relative sequence of nominative / dative / accusative, but also in the sequence of different types of adverbial determinations among each other, as well as between objects and adverbials.
Some details on such sequence principles can be found in the following articles:
- For basic positions of various adverbials: see syntax of adverbial definition
- For verbs in which the basic order of the additions deviates from the scheme “nominative <acc./dat.”: Subject (grammar) #Subjects that are not hierarchically the highest complement of the verb
- For word order freedom in the middle field and its treatment in syntax theories see also Scrambling (Linguistics)
Syntax of the predicate components
Components of the compound predicate
The predicate of a sentence must always contain a verb in German, the main clause here a finite verb. Further predicate components can be verbs in infinite forms, but in certain cases also words from other categories. On the one hand, these are different words in fixed connections with a verb, where it is difficult to decide whether they form a word together with the verb or not, for example:
- [take into account ] the circumstances
- to [be considerate ]
The fact that the nouns are predicate parts here means that they are not used to designate a particular object (i.e., "to refer to" ); therefore they do not allow the addition of an article in the examples.
Another case of non-verbal predicate parts are resultant adjectives .
There are also so-called copula verbs, which can have an adjective and, under certain circumstances, a whole group of adjectives or other parts of speech, as a supplement. The assignment of these clauses is not clearly defined: Either an adjective group can function as a separate clause (predicative), as in the example below, or the adjective can be integrated into the predicate, as is expressed by the brackets in b):
- a) [ satisfied with the results to be ]
- b) [be satisfied with the result ]
Also of concurrent verbs is to distinguish whether a composite predicate is formed from a plurality of verbs, or whether a verb to -Infinitiv forms a separate subordinate clause, which then as a whole is a complement of the other verbs. Infinitive subordinate clauses can also appear inside the sentence before the main verb (this is the so-called incoherent construction of the infinitive, example b.):
- a) that he [promised to close the windows ]
- (multi-part predicate, emphasis on close )
- b) that he promised [to close the windows] after all
- (only promised as a predicate, with a subordinate clause as an object; emphasis on promised )
Certain verbs (like promise ) allow both construction options, other verbs only one of the two.
Order of verbs
In multi-part predicates, verbs in the infinitive are dependent on other verbs that require this form (this is also known as status rection ). If the predicate stays together as a whole, in a two-part predicate, as in the following example, the dependent infinitive form is always directly in front of the finite verb to be analyzed first):
- a) The dog wants to sleep = that the dog wants to sleep
- b) that the dog appears to be sleeping.
- c) that the dog has slept.
The modal verb will require (ruled) Here the bare infinitive (the first state), the verb seem governs the to -Infinitiv (second status here not have its own subordinate clause is), and the perfect-auxiliary verb have ruled the participle (in this Construction as 3rd status of the infinitive).
In the case of more than two verbs, it would be expected that the last verb would rule the penultimate one, and this in turn would rule the preceding one, so the dependencies always ran from right to left. In the following, numbers denote the verb hierarchy as follows: 1 = main verb, 2 = infinite auxiliary verb (governs 1); 3 = finite verb (rules 2)
- d) that the dog appears to have slept
|3. Status||2. Status||finite|
|ruled by who||ruled by seem|
- e) that the child will not want to sleep
|1. Status||1. Status||finite|
|ruled by want||ruled by will|
In such constructions with more than two verbs, however, German also allows the hierarchically highest verb to be placed at the beginning of the entire predicate. This position is called Oberfeld .
- f) that the child probably will not be [sleeping want -]
- g) that he did not have [to ask can -]
The upper field is still part of the compound predicate and is obviously a different position than the “long” prefix in the verb second clause (ie the left bracket); compare:
- f ') The child will probably not want to sleep
- g ') He has , they can not ask
The use of the upper field can be the only correct form in constructions with modal verbs (like will, can ). If a modal verb is governed from the upper field in a perfect construction, the modal verb does not appear in the participle form, but in the so-called substitute infinitive - this means that the verbs want appear in the same infinitive form in f) - g) above, although the future tense will be and having the perfect tense would otherwise rule different infinitive forms. A participle of the modal verb (“konnt”) would be strongly ungrammatic in g).
More than one verb can be dragged forward in the Oberfeld formation. The direction in the upper field is then from left to right, unlike the verb end position in d) -e) above. The following construction shows a perfect that is placed in the subjunctive with the finite auxiliary verb would, the finite comes before the perfect, followed by the rest of the verb complex:
- h) that she should have noticed
|would||to have||to notice||have to|
|4th||→||3||[1 ←||2 ←]|
(For a more complete representation of the positional variation with additional design variants, see e.g. Haider (2010), Chapter 7)
A noun phrase (abbreviated NP) or a noun group or noun group is a phrase (a closed syntactic unit) whose core or head is a noun (in the sense of noun). Other forms such as pronouns or nouns of adjectives form noun phrases, provided that the part of speech is also analyzed as nominal (i.e. with the category characteristic N).
Adjective phrase (symbol AP) is a term from grammar and denotes a phrase, i.e. a closed syntactic unit that consists of an adjective and its additions, i.e. H. a phrase whose head is an adjective. For systematic reasons, adjectives occurring individually are also taken as phrases in grammar theory if they serve as a component of a sentence or attribute in the form of a single word.
A prepositional phrase, abbreviated PP, also called a prepositional compound or prepositional group, is a phrase in grammar (closed word group) whose head is a preposition. According to the types of supplements that appear with the preposition, three types can be distinguished, with the first type being by far the most common.
Complex Syntax Syntax
Main sentence series (also: HS series, sentence series)
Main clauses (HS) can be combined to form the main clauses series (HS series, also sentence series) (secondary order; Latin paratax). The sentences of a main sentence series are equivalent. Each of them could also stand on their own and have their own subject and predicate.
A sentence structure is a complex sentence that is formed from at least one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. If subordinate clauses are directly subordinate to the main clause, it is a so-called hypotax, the subordinate clause is then also called a clause (of the main clause).
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- Jörg Meibauer et al .: Introduction to German linguistics . 2nd Edition. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart 2007.
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- Hermann Paul: German grammar. 5 volumes, Niemeyer, Halle 1916. ( archive.org ).
- Otto Behaghel: German Syntax. Volumes I – IV, Winter, Heidelberg 1928.
- Helbig 2001, p. 176.
- An example of an examination of the German syntax in the model of generative grammar is z. B. Haider 2010.
- z. B. Sternefeld (2007), p. 489 ff. And 508 f. (Volume 2).
- See Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 253 f.
- See Pittner & Berman, p. 18: "Possessive pronouns" or "negation pronouns".
- Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 249ff., There the individual terms “article word” or “pronoun” designate different syntactic functions of the same (lexical) part of speech (p. 250). See also the delimitation problem in Pittner & Berman p. 17 f.
- p. 379 f.
- If the comparative is not counted as an inflection, see the section on the comparative.
- Note that the latter are not counted among “particles” as part of speech if they do not otherwise occur alone; hence the more precise designation "verb particles".
- From the Indo-European a dual can still be recognized in the outdated forms of the word for two (m. Two , f. Two, n. Two) . In the Bavarian dialects , the personal pronoun of the 2nd person plural (ös / es) goes back to an old dual form.
- linguist Eisenberg: German language more differentiated than ever before , Deutschlandfunk, interview with Peter Eisenberg , March 11, 2008, accessed September 20, 2017
- Duden. The grammar. 9th edition. 2016, p. 372.
- The use of language here is inconsistent. An equation of “ conjugated verb ” and “finite verb” can often be found in school grammars (e.g. Pons grammar French p. 58 ) or e.g. B. in the grammar of Canoonet , otherwise z. B. Duden-Grammatik (2009) p. 429.
- The playback after Duden grammar (2009), p 435, where the personal endings, however, are not specifically listed separated.
- Gunnar Bech (1955): Studies on the German verbum infinitum (Original: Copenhagen, Munksgard). 2nd unchanged edition. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1983.
- MG Arssenjewa, IA Zyganowa: grammar of the German language. Verlag «Sojuz», Saint Petersburg 2002, p. 178 ff.
- H. Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprach. Verlag J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, p. 338.
- Henning Bergenholtz, Marlis Becher: Be or not be. Problems of mode use in offline speech. Nouveaux Cahiers d'Allemand, Vol. 3, 1985, pp. 443-457.
- See Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 601.
- Examples from or parallel to Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 808.
- Examples from Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 807.
- For this definition of sentence structure see Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 916ff .; as well as Canoonet , where “valence class” is offered as a synonymous term.
- See Sternefeld (2007), p. 340ff., From where the example is taken.
- Example: deutsch.lingolia.com
- Cf. on the subject of word order in the middle field z. B. Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 867 ff.
- This statement is more about a tendency that is influenced by the fact that Definita and Indefinita can each have different types of interpretations, which behave differently when defining a natural sequence. See Haider (2010), pp. 145 ff.
- Dudengrammatik (2009), pp. 858–861, where the following examples also come from.
- Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 857.
- See z. B. Pittner & Berman (2010), chap. 8th.
- See Dudengrammatik 2009, § 682 ff .; Haider 2010, p. 288 f.
- Example from Haider 2010, p. 289.