German Sentence Structure

This set of lessons will help you to master German Sentence Structure. I had to divide it in several different lessons because German is more flexible than other languages in terms of sentence structure. 

However, you do have to follow certain rules about word order, especially where you put verbs. The following lessons will explain everything in detail, and I recommend you to follow the order you can find in the following overview.

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German Sentence Structure Overview:

Main Clauses

Main clauses are full sentences that could stand alone. They almost always include a subject and verb, but can include a lot more information as well. Important to remember is that the main verb goes in position 2.

Example: „Anna kauft einen Hut."

To the Lesson: Main Clauses & Word Order

Difference Between Main Clauses and Subordinate Clauses

Main clauses are complete sentences on their own, but subordinate clauses are not. They always need to be combined with a main clause to make sense.

Example: „Anna kauft das Kleid (main clause), das ihrem Mann gefällt. (subordinate clause)“

To the Lesson: Difference between Main Clauses & Subordinate Clauses

Sentence Brackets

Some verbs have a separable prefix or are used in combination with a second verb. The conjugated verb stays in position 2 but the prefix or second verb goes at the end of the sentence. In a certain sense (use your imagination!) this creates brackets that contain all of the other information ⇒ Sentence Brackets.

Examples: „Ich stehe um 6 Uhr auf.“

To the Lesson: Sentence Brackets

Asking Questions

In German there are W-Questions and Yes-No Questions. Lucky for you, it's similar to how questions are formed in English.


  • Woher kommst du?“ – „Ich komme aus Deutschland.“
  • „Kommst du aus Deutschland?“ – „Ja/Nein.“

To the Lesson: Asking Questions


In German there are three main ways to negate something:

  1. Nein: "Willst du ein Eis?" ; "Nein!"
  2. Kein: "Ich möchte kein Eis!"
  3. Nicht: "Ich mag Eis nicht!"

To the Lesson: Negation


Conjunctions are words that join things together. For example: words, clauses, and sentences.


  • "Tanja und Boris sehen fern."
  • "Fahren wir zu Oma oder bleiben wir zu Hause?"

To the Lesson: Conjunctions

Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are similar to conjunctions in that they both combine things together. However, there are some differences in how they look and are used.

Example: „Anna kommt später, außerdem kommt Jan auch später.“

To the Lesson: Conjunctive Adverbs

Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are parts of a sentence that give extra information to the main clause.

They can't stand alone and are connected to the main clause with conjunctions or relative pronouns.

In subordinate clauses, the verb goes at the end.

Example: "Es wird kalt, wenn ich das Fenster aufmache."

To the Lesson: Subordinate Clauses & Word Order

Infinitive Clauses

In infinitive clauses, the verb isn't conjugated. Instead, it stays in the infinitive form (ending in "-en"). Infinitive clauses also don't have their own subject - they use the subject from the main clause.

Example: "Ich versuche, das Tor zu treffen."

To the Lesson: Infinitive with "zu"

Infinitive Constructions

Infinitive constructions are clauses with "um…zu…," "ohne…zu…," or "(an)statt…zu…" There is no subject, and the verb stays in the infinitive form.

Example: "Ich lerne Deutsch, um in Deutschland arbeiten zu können."

To the Lesson: Infinitive Constructions

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