Regular Word Order
Regular word oder in German consists of subject-verb-(adverb)-indirect object-direct object-(adverb). Notice that an adverb normally immediately follows the verb, or is in last place position. What is emphasized determines the ultimate position. In regular word order, the verb always follows the subject.
e.g. Der Schüler gibt jetzt der Lehrerin seinen Arbeitsbogen. (The student is giving the teacher his worksheet now.)

Inverted Word Order
Inverted word order, or when the verb exchanges position with the subject (i.e. the verb goes in front of the subject), occurs for two reasons:
1. in questions:
Gibt der Schüler der Lehrerin seinen Arbeitsbogen? (Is the student giving the teacher his worksheet?)
and also with an interrogative (question word): Wann gibt der Schüler der Lehrerin seinen Arbeitsbogen? (When is the student giving the teacher his worksheet?)
2. when another sentence element is stressed:
(adverb emphasized) Jetzt gibt er der Lehrerin seinen Arbeitsbogen. (Now he's giving the teacher his worksheet.)
(direct object emphasized) Seinen Arbeitsbogen gibt der Schüler jetzt der Lehrerin. (His worksheet is the student now giving to his teacher.)
(indirect object emphasized) Der Lehrerin gibt er jetzt seinen Arbeitsbogen. (To the teacher he is now giving his worksheet.)


There are two types of conjunctions just as in English: coordinating and subordinating. Their functions are also the same. Coordinating conjunctions combine two or more independent clauses, whereas a subordinating conjunction combines a dependent clause with an independent clause (the one is dependent upon the other).

Coordinating conjunctions include und (and), aber (but), denn (because), oder (or), and sondern (but rather: joins a negative with a positive). They do not dictate any change in word order (just be careful to separate the clauses with a comma).


Der Junge macht seine Hausaufgaben, und das Mädchen übt Klavier. (The boy is doing his homework, and the girl is practicing the piano.)

Er möchte in die Schule kommen, aber er ist krank. (He would like to come to school, but he is sick.)

Sie muß sich die Haare kämmen, denn der Wind weht so stark. (She must comb her hair, because the wind is blowing so strongly.)

Peter muß brav sein, oder er muß ins Bett. (Peter must be good, or he must go to bed.)

Karl und Petra machen nicht ihre Hausaufgaben, sondern sie spielen Karten. (Carl and Petra aren't doing their homework, but rather they are playing cards.)

Subordinating conjunctions include daß (that), ob (whether, if), wenn (if, whenever), weil (because), and all interrogatives (wer, was, wann, wo, warum, wie, usw.) used as conjunctions. Other words used as conjuctions include als (when, referring to a past event), bevor or ehe (before), bis (until), damit (so that), nachdem (after having), obwohl (although), seitdem (since), sobald (as soon as), solange (as long as), and während (during, while). They dictate that the clause which they introduce has transposed word order, i.e. the conjugated verb must go to the end of that clause.


Sie muß sich die Haare kämmen, weil der Wind so stark weht. (She must comb her hair, because the wind is so strong.)

Weil der Wind so stark weht, muß sie sich die Haare kämmen. (Because the wind is so strong, she must comb her hair.)

Er sagte, daß er nicht in die Schule kommen kann, weil er krank ist. (or, ...denn er ist krank.) (He said that he cannot come to school, because he is sick.)

Der Junge macht seine Hausaufgaben, besonders wenn er eine Klassenarbeit am nächsten Tag hat. (The boy does his homework, especially whenever he has a test the next day.)

Ich weiß nicht, warum er in die Schule nicht kommen kann. (I don't know why he can't come to school.)

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