German syntax and grammar questions

There is something I am confused about with regards to syntax and grammar. In German how strict is the word order? For example…

‘today i want to play football’
‘I want to play football today’

In English we can put the word ‘today’ at either end of the sentence and it is correct. (or at least sounds okay)

‘Outside it is raining very hard’
‘It is raining very hard outside’

‘Outside it is raining’
‘It is raining outside’

Some other examples firstly with the word ‘outside’ and secondly with the word ‘raining’ changing positions.

I will soon be switching my German learning to output based activites like speaking and writing and obviously I will make a lot of syntax mistakes, but what i am asking is, can i get away with getting some of the words in the wrong order? Is there as much room for moving words around as there is in English or is it more rigid?

You may read this:

German Phrases:
German Word order:

It’s a difficult topic.

‘today i want to …’ Heute will ich …
‘I want to …’ Ich will heute …

Fußball will ich heute spielen (stress on football)

Outside it is raining very hard’ Draußen gießt es in Strömen.
‘It is raining very hard outside’ Es gießt in Strömen draußen.

(My mother always used to say the German equivalent of “well, it wouldn’t be raining indoors”!)

As long as you stick as closely as possible to the rule that the verb in a main sentence comes in second position, you can do what you like with German. Viel Spaß!

Your (English) examples would be in German:

Heute will ich Fußball spielen.
Ich will heute Fußball spielen.
Fußball will ich heute spielen.

Draußen regnet es gerade sehr stark.
Es regnet draußen gerade sehr stark.
Es regnet gerade draußen sehr stark.
Gerade regnet es draußen sehr stark.

Draußen regnet es gerade.
Es regnet draußen gerade.
Es regnet gerade draußen.
Gerade regnet es draußen.

All other word positions would be considered unnatural or wrong.

‘gerade’ is an indicator of the progressive form: “is raining” = “regnet gerade”

Thanks for the replies.

So from what i understand, German is actually more fluid and loose than English with regards to what you can do with the wording? As long as the verb goes last? Or am i wrong there?

The verb goes into the second position, which is not necessarily last. Heute WILL ich… Ich WILL heute…
Vorgestern Abend nach dem Kino BIN ich gleich ins Bett GEGANGEN (the modal verb “sein” is in second position here)

Briefe, die ich bereits gelesen habe, KOMMEN gleich in die Ablage. You’ll get used to it!

eta: Heute WILL ich endlich mal wieder Spiegeleier ESSEN.
Ich WILL heute endlich wiedereinmal Spiegeleier ESSEN.

You’ll come across sentences where the last part of a verb has been moved up in the sentence (this is the so-called ‘new’ German which started in the 1960s…): The verb fahren has many composite forms, one is ‘einfahren’.

Auf Gleis 1 FÄHRT die Regionalbahn aus Bremen EIN ===>>> Auf Gleis 1 FÄHRT EIN die Regionalbahn aus Bremen.

The main mistake of English people learning or using German is to use the strict English S-P-O word order in German.

Today I (S) want to play (P) football (O).

Heute ich (S) will spielen (P) Fußball (O). <<< WRONG

Of course the above wrong sentence is understood, but most Germans know instantly that you “translating” word-by-word from English to German.

Please see my edited comment above!.

Okay i understand it a little better now. how about when there is a situation where the sentence refers to oneself twice.

‘Ich Fuhle mich krank’ Lit. ‘I feel me sick’

If i just said to a German person. ‘Ich fuhle krank’. How incorrect would this be? Would it sound odd or would the listener understand I am not very good at the language thus they won’t mind?

Also in a previous example…

Es regnet draußen gerade sehr stark.
Es regnet gerade draußen sehr stark.

Both say the exact same thing yet 2 words are swopped around. Does this make a difference or is it just an oddity of the German language that this can be done?

I know I am full of questions, but there are a lot of answers to be had! :stuck_out_tongue:

It has to be “Ich FÜHLE MICH übergangen/krank/wohl/glücklich/benachteiligt usw.” It would definitively be wrong without the correct reflexive form.

The first sentence says that it is raining heavily just at this moment. The second sentence stresses that it is raining outside just at this moment, which would imply that normally it rains elsewhere (indoors or wherever).

Another example:
Es riecht hier drinnen gerade sehr stark. There is a strong smell in here just now (stress on ‘sehr stark’).
Es riecht gerade hier drinnen sehr stark. Two posssibilities: a) it smells very strong, especially in here - stress on ‘hier drinnen’ and b) the same meaning as in the first sentence, without any particular stress.

Some people might not even notice that the words are swapped around, so do not worry!

Thanks for the explanations. I think it’s best if I just spout out loads of German words and hope the listener knows what I am talking about! :smiley:

Exactly. Have fun!