Sunday, 30 November 2008

Word Order - Multi-Clause Sentences

To listen to this podcast on your computer, click here.


Jim Morton said...

Another great podcast, Laura. This one goes a long ways towards explaining many of the major idiosyncrasies of the German language. Do you have any plans to do a podcast on Reflexive Verbs? Those still give me trouble sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Laura, you are giving me a hard time to find pronounciation errors! (The only word that wasn't perfectly pronounced (but certainly understandable) was "Mutter". I think you pronounced the "u" like in English "mute", while it should be shorter and without any "j", similar to the "u" in "put".)

Oh, and I couldn't find the transcript on the web site, but you are probably aware of that. :)

GW said...

Great to see that you're publishing podcasts again. They've been extremely useful to me.

Keep up the good work!

Have you considered doing episodes on grammar in regional/national dialects? I would find one on Schweizerdeutsch particularly useful, what with the strange 2-case system and odd phrasing.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say how much I adore your podcasts. They are a true labor of love; all of us out in the internet's ether appreciate them greatly! I've learned so much.

MB said...

Excellent podcast. Very practical explanation of the finer points of grammar. I look forward to a podcast on conditionals.

Lindsay Kennedy said...

Hi there, I moved to Austria and am learning German. I've been frustrated because every resource I've found tells me to memorize phrases without actually "understanding" what I'm saying, and why I'm saying it.

This crippled my motivation to learn, until I listened to your first podcast. Finally I can see there is some 'sense' to the language!

Thank you greatly for this podcast

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for your series of grammar podcasts. I am living/working in Kassel, and your advice has been instructive and helpful for understanding the language. I still have a long way to go to understand common, spoken German, but you have been a big help.

Pete Obermanns

Anonymous said...

Will you be publishing more pods??? Please!

Laura said...

I do plan to publish more. I've been busy with other things lately, so German GrammarPod went on the backburner. Unfortunately there will probably continue to be pretty long gaps between episodes as they're very time intensive. Every minute of them probably takes me about 30 minutes or more to create (taking writing, recording and editing into account). But it is definitely my plan to continue with them.

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Laura said...

Simple sentences only have one clause, for instance I'm buying a sandwich. To make more complex sentences, you have to use more than one clause. An example of a sentence with two clauses is: I'm buying a sandwich because I'm hungry. In this sentence, I'm buying a sandwich is one clause and because I'm hungry is the second. Most long sentences have two or more clauses.

This podcast teaches you how to identify where one clause should end and another begin. It also teaches you what you need to know about German word order to construct your own multi-clause sentences. In particular it covers the conjunctions that often stand between two clauses and the impact they have on word order.

Michael said...

I love your Podcasts and recommend them to my German teacher!

One question: I'm fascinated by whether or not leaving out daß in a sentence is good or bad German. I hear it often in spoken German but I'm told it's bad form True? It just makes the word order of the subordinate clause so much easier.

Martin said...

Hi Michael,

I think that's a difficult question because it is so general. Sometimes you cannot leave out the "dass":

"Willst du, dass ich dir das Salz gebe?" (Do you want me to give you the salt?)

I don't see any way to leave out the "dass" in that example (without rephrasing the question).

On the other hand here is an example (straight from my grammar book) without "dass":

1) "Hans hat gesagt, ich bin ein Idiot." (Hans said, I'm an idiot)

Or with "Konjunktiv":

2) "Hans hat gesagt, ich sei ein Idiot."

Or with "dass":

3) "Hans hat gesagt, dass ich ein Idiot bin."

2) and 3) are considered just fine. 1) is considered grammatically correct but it is ambiguous. You can interpret it as direct speech:

Hans hat gesagt: "Ich bin ein Idiot."

Thus, Hans is referring to himself as the idiot. (Quite a difference!)

Not only is there no difference to 1) in spoken language but even in writing 1) can be interpreted as Hans talking about himself. Thus, leaving out the "dass" is grammatically correct; however, it is bad style when it leads to ambiguous sentences.

If the sentences is not ambiguous, leaving out the "dass" is probably the more common form in spoken German: "Ich glaube, es regnet morgen." ("I think it rains tomorrow.") instead of "Ich glaube, dass es morgen regnet.") However, in written German, the form with "dass" (or with "Konjunktiv" or with "würde") is considered the standard form.

Michael said...

Martin thanks. That's interesting. Yes, I meant where one could omit dass without being ambiguous - exactly as in your last (es regnet) example. But I still see texts and hear tapes saying it is bad style. Maybe the written/spoken distinction is the key.

Eaalim said...

Great blog, Thanks.

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