Mastering German Word Order


Learning a new language can be a thrilling adventure, but it can also be a daunting task, especially when it comes to understanding and using the correct word order.  German, like many other languages, has its own unique word order rules that can be challenging for learners.  However, with the right guidance and practice, you can conquer this aspect of the language and become proficient in constructing clear and grammatically correct sentences.  In this blog post, we will dive into the intricacies of German word order and provide you with valuable tips and insights to help you along your language-learning journey.

The Basic Word Order in German

In German, the basic word order for a simple declarative sentence is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). For example:

  • Ich (subject) esse (verb) einen Apfel (object).

This structure is quite similar to English, making it relatively easy to grasp for beginners.  However, German word order can become more complex as you add additional elements to your sentences.

Word Order Rules to Remember

  1. The Verb Position:
    • In a standard SVO sentence, the main verb (the action verb) is the second element in the sentence.  This is known as the V2 rule.
    • Subordinate clauses, such as those introduced by conjunctions like “weil” or “wenn”, place the verb at the end of the clause.
    • Modal verbs (e.g., können, müssen, wollen) and other auxiliary verbs also occupy the second position in the sentence, while the second verb goes to the end of the clause.
    • For questions, the verb precedes the subject.
  2. The Position of Time Expressions:
    • Time expressions like “morgen” and “immer” usually come at the beginning of the sentence, moving the verb into second position.
  3. The Position of Object Pronouns:
    • When using object pronouns (e.g., ihn, sie, es), they typically come after the verb. 
    • For example: Ich sehe ihn.
  4. Separable Verbs:
    • German has many separable verbs, where the prefix of the verb is separated from the verb stem.  In sentences with separable verbs, the prefix is placed at the end of the sentence. 
    • For example: Ich stehe um 7 Uhr auf.
  5. The Position of Adverbs:
    • Adverbs that modify verbs usually come before the verb.
    • Adverbs that modify the whole sentence typically come at the beginning or end of the sentence.
  6. Relative Clauses:
    • In relative clauses, the verb goes to the end of the clause.
    • For example: Das ist der Mann, den ich gestern getroffen habe.

Practice and Immersion

Understanding the rules of German word order is essential, but practice and immersion are equally important. Here are some tips to help you master word order in German:

  1. Read and Listen: Immerse yourself in German media, such as books, newspapers, podcasts, and movies.  Pay attention to how sentences are structured and the word order used in different contexts.
  2. Write and Speak: Practice constructing your own sentences in German.  Start with simple sentences and gradually incorporate more complex structures as you become more comfortable.
  3. Language Partners: Find a language exchange partner or join a language learning community to practice speaking and receive feedback on your sentence structure.
  4. Grammar Resources: Utilise reputable grammar resources and textbooks that offer explanations and exercises related to German word order.
  5. Keep a Journal: Maintain a journal in German to document your thoughts and experiences.  This will help you practice writing in a more natural way.


German word order may seem daunting at first, but with consistent practice and an understanding of the rules, you can navigate this aspect of the language successfully.  Remember that language learning is a journey, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. The key is to keep learning, practicing, and immersing yourself in the language to improve your proficiency.  With dedication and patience, you will soon find yourself constructing sentences in German with ease and confidence.  Viel Erfolg!