How do I identify wrong sentences

sentence parts

As sentence parts In grammar, the components of the sentence are designated which can be rearranged together and which therefore always stay together. The clause consists of one or more words. It can be moved within a sentence, with the sentence remaining grammatically correct. That means that all words just put together - so as a block - can be moved, form a part of a sentence. There are four parts of the sentence: subject, predicate and object as well as the adverbial terms. However, these can still be divided into different types. All parts of the sentence can be recognized by the shift sample, including the adjustment sample, and clearly identified with sentence questions and question words.

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Overview of the parts of the sentence

Sentence core
(These parts of the sentence are included in almost every sentence.)
Part of the sentenceQuestion wordExample sentence & question
subjectWho or what is acting?
  • Peter makes a goal.

  • Question: Who will score?
  • Answer: Peter.
predicateWhat is the subject doing?
  • Peter shoots a gate.

  • Question: What is peter doing?
  • Answer: shoots.
Sentence completion
(These parts of the sentence can expand the core of the sentence.)
Part of the sentenceQuestion wordExample sentence & question
Accusative objectWho what?
  • Peter shoots a gate.

  • Question: What is Peter shooting?
  • Answer: a gate.
Dative objectWhom?
  • Rebekah believes him.

  • Question: Who does Rebekah believe?
  • Answer: him.
Genitive objectWhose?
  • We remember the dead.

  • Question: Whom do we remember?
  • Answer: the dead.
Local adverbialWhere? Where from? Where to?
  • she drives to the mountains.

  • Question: Where is she driving to?
  • Answer: to the mountains.
Temporal adverbialWhen how long? How often?
  • We drive at 6 o'clock.

  • Question: When do we go
  • Answer: at 6 o'clock.
Modal adverbialHow? In what way? With what? With what?
  • she comes by train.

  • Question: How does it come?
  • Answer: by train.
Causal adverbialWhy ?, Why ?, What for?
  • Martin was crying because of an injury.

  • Question: Why was Martin crying?
  • Answer: Because of an injury.
Note: In the above overview, an attempt was made to form sentences that were as unambiguous as possible. Basically there are many different ways to arrange the parts of the sentence. You can find more explanations below.

What is a part of a sentence?

In German there are parts of speech and parts of sentences. The rule is that each word can be assigned to one of the ten parts of speech and therefore almost always belongs to the same part of speech. To assign a word to a part of speech, we look at the properties of the word.

These properties are different for each part of speech. Parts of speech are words with a very specific ability. For example, verbs represent activities such as to run, to sit or sleep and nouns are things, facts or living beings, like table or mole. Nouns and verbs are parts of speech and there are ten different ones in German to which all words can be assigned.

Parts of the sentence are different. This is about what task or function a word or group of words fulfills in a sentence. Thus, a word can be a very specific part of a sentence in a sentence and take on a different task in another sentence and then be a completely different part of the sentence. Let's look at an example:

The example sentence above consists of six words. These can easily be assigned to one of the ten parts of speech in German. Are there the and oneItems, cat and fishNoun, where eats a finite verb and small ones is an adjective. So far so good.

Let us now see how many parts of the sentence the above example sentence consists of and what tasks the parts of the sentence take on in the sentence.

The sentence consists of three parts. At the beginning there is the subject, followed by the predicate and in the last place there is an object. We can now check that these are actually parts of sentences, that words and groups of words belong together, by means of shifting, also known as rearrangement.

Note: The conversion test is a surefire way to find out whether a phrase or word is actually a part of a sentence. The predicate is an exception. The position of the predicate is fixed. At least if the record type of the record is to be retained (see statement).

Changeover sample

The rule is that parts of a sentence can be shifted in a sentence, whereby the sentence remains grammatically correct. Groups of words that have not been correctly classified cannot be moved around at will.

Basically, all parts of the sentence can be rearranged, whereby the position of a predicate is fixed. If properly determined, we can shift all other links back and forth. However, if the position of the predicate is given, in our example it should be possible to swap subject and object. Let's try that once!

In the first sentence the clauses are arranged as subject, predicate, object (short: SPO). In the second is the position of the parts of the sentence OPS. Nevertheless, the sentence remains grammatically correct and thus the sentence statement is preserved. So the parts of the sentence could be rearranged.

The subdivisions are therefore parts of the sentence. As an example, we would like to show that it is not possible to assign the parts of the sentence incorrectly. The sentence is then grammatically incorrect.

To ask the difference between clauses and parts of speech?
It is often difficult for students to distinguish parts of sentences from parts of speech. In some cases this is not bad at all, but in other cases it leads to serious errors and consequential errors in the determination.
With Parts of speech the words of our language can be categorized, i.e. divided. Parts of speech are words with a certain ability. For example, verbs represent activities such as to run, to sit or waiting.

Nouns represent concrete or abstract things, like table, bus or love, whereas as an interjection all exclamation words like bang, oops or ouch are designated. There are a total of ten parts of speech and every word in our language can be assigned to them.

As sentence parts are the components of a sentence into which it can be broken down. Sentences remain as a unit and can consist of several words that all belong to one of the ten parts of speech.

To make it clear that the individual parts of a sentence can be rearranged as desired in a sentence, we can look at an example sentence. Let's take the sentence:"Greta is writing her friend a letter." and rearrange the parts of the sentence. Incidentally, the position of the predicate always remains the same.

Subject predicate dative object accusative object
Change of clauses (change sample)
Gretawritesher frienda letter.
Her friendwritesGretaa letter.
A letterwritesGretaher friend.
Note: The sentence was rearranged several times. It became clear that the individual parts of the sentence can be rearranged, but that some words always stay together. As a result, the parts of the sentence can be rearranged, so that we can identify words that belong together as parts of the sentence. However, not all words (parts of speech) can be put in any order.
We remember that the parts of the sentence can be moved almost arbitrarily within a sentence. If we have classified the individual words or groups of words incorrectly, we will notice during the conversion test that a mistake has been made. For this sample it is still irrelevant which tasks or meaning the parts of the sentence have. But we will look at these tasks below.

Determine parts of the sentence

The different parts of a sentence in a sentence have different tasks and functions. In order to determine a part of a sentence, we can put a question to the sentence. The answer to this allows us to determine the respective part of the sentence.

We remember that there are 4 different parts of the sentence in German: subject, predicate, object and adverbial determination. Objects and adverbial terms are then divided into different subspecies. Therefore we start with subject and predicate.

Subject & predicate

Subject and predicate are the most important parts of a sentence and every sentence contains them. They form the smallest meaningful unit in a sentence and are therefore called Sentence core designated. A sentence that only consists of these two parts of the sentence is therefore also called Minimum rate or Sentence minimum designated. Less is not possible.

The subject is the thing in the sentence that does or suffers something. We can inquire about it by asking the question "Who or what does or suffers something?". So in the example we ask "Who or what eats?". The answer is:"The cat"which is thus the subject.

Who / what does / suffers something?
Answer: subject

The predicate now states what the subject does or suffers. This can also be inquired by asking what someone (or something) does or suffers. So the question is:"What is the cat doing?" and the answer is:"She eats." - so is eats the predicate.

What is the subject doing?
Answer: predicate
Notice! Subject and predicate are the most important components in a sentence, because without the two the whole is not a sentence, but at most an exclamation or a heading. Therefore it makes sense to determine these two first and only then to inquire about the other parts of the sentence.


Now the subject and predicate can form a simple sentence, but sometimes this should be supplemented with additional information. Among other things, this information can be provided by the object, which is why it is also called Sentence completion referred to as.

We know so far that a predicate always contains an action and shows us what the subject is doing in a sentence. The object is the goal of this action. One could even say that predicates show what the subject is doing with the object. This simplification is not always correct, but it is enough for us to get started.

The object is an addition, which is, so to speak, the goal of the action named by the predicate. One therefore also speaks of the fact that the object has a predicate required becomes. In addition, the object can complete the minimum set of subject and predicate. You can also inquire about the property.

This is more difficult than the subject and predicate. This is because there are four different objects in German. We therefore have to ask four questions of our sentence in order to check which object is being used. We differentiate between genitive, dative, accusative and prepositional objects. But more on that later.

The complement that could be the goal of the predicate, in the example above would be what the cat is eating. We ask for this example Whom? or What? after that. So the question is:"Who or what does the cat eat?" and the answer is:"A little fish." - so is a little fish. the object in our example sentence.

So we usually ask about the object as follows:

Question word + predicate + subject?
Answer: object
Overview the interrogative words of various objects.
ObjectsPossible question words
Genitive object
Dative object
Accusative object
Prepositional object
Note: A detailed explanation of the use of these question words as well as numerous examples can be found in the section on the respective object. So if there is any uncertainty about how to use these question words, just read the post to the end.
Note: The question of correctly determining the object depends on the case in which the object is used. The case of the object is determined directly by the predicate, partly by a preposition that is required by the predicate and in rare cases also by an adjective (see valence). As a rule, our feeling for language is sufficient to formulate the right question. We explain the property questions in the following section.

Property types

There are three types of object in German: genitive object, dative object and accusative object. There is also the prepositional object. The object is made up of several words, the first of which is a preposition. Depending on the preposition in front of it, the object is either in the dative or in the accusative.

As described, the object is a so-called sentence completion that is required by the predicate and the goal of the action that the predicate contains. Some sentences do not need an object, others absolutely need it and are otherwise incomplete.

Accusative object

The Accusative object is an object that is in the accusative. It is made up of either a noun, a group of nouns or a pronoun. The companions of nouns and pronouns, such as articles or adjectives, are always part of the sentence. The accusative object becomes with Whom or What? he asks.

The Accusative object will with Whom? or What? he asks. So here we ask:"Who or what does the cat eat?" and can deduce from this that a little fish the object must be. And since it can be queried in the same way, it is an accusative object.

Whom / what + predicate + subject?
Answer: accusative object
Overview: More examples of accusative objects.
Subject predicate accusative object

Example sentencequestion
The mouse eats the cheese.What does the mouse eat?
I love you.Who do i love
The girl plays handball.What is the girl playing?
Students and teachers are on vacationWhat do students and teachers have?
We enjoy our vacation.What do we enjoy
Basti visits his buddy.Who is Basti visiting?
Note: The accusative object is the most common object that can be made out in German sentences. Over two thirds of all objects in German fall under it. Therefore it tops the overview and was explained first. The accusative object is queried by using as a question word Whom? / What? uses.

Dative object

The Dative object is an object that is in the dative. It is made up of either a noun, a group of nouns or a pronoun. The companions of nouns and pronouns, such as articles or adjectives, are always part of the sentence. The dative object is with Whom? and rarely with What thing? he asks.

We know that Dative object With Whom? is asked. So we ask the following question about our example sentence:"Who does Paula believe?" and receive in response:"The travel guide." and from this it can be deduced that it is the dative object of the sentence.

Whom + predicate + subject?
Answer: dative object
Overview: More examples of dative objects.
Subject predicate dative object

Example sentencequestion
I help him.Who am I helping?
Hannah answers the old man.Who is Hannah answering?
The car belongs to my neighbors.To whom does the car belong?
Magdalena is similar to her fatherWho does Magdalena resemble?
HanneswillVivian helpWho does Hannes want to help?
You forgive your husband.Who does she forgive?
Note: In addition to the accusative object, the dative object is the most common object in German. If you want to inquire about the dative object of a sentence, you ask either Whom? or What thing?.

Genitive object

The Genitive object is an object that is in the genitive. It is formed from a noun, a group of nouns, or a pronoun. The companions of nouns and pronouns, such as articles or adjectives, are always part of the sentence. The genitive object becomes with Whose? he asks.

Let's ask for the parts of the sentence in the example above. We ask, Who or what is acting? and receive the subject in responseWe, we now ask the question, What we do?, we get the predicatecommemorate as answer. Let’s ask now Whom do we remember?we get the answer of the deceased. This is the genitive object of the sentence, since it is with Whose? lets inquire.

Whose + predicate + subject?
Answer: genitive object
Overview: More examples of genitive objects.
Subject predicate genitive object

Example sentencequestion
Ashamed of his origins.What was he ashamed of?
Rebekka got rid of the unnecessary luggage.Whose was Rebekah getting rid of?
The election officer abstained.Whose did the election officer abstain from?
I enjoy life.Whose am I looking forward to?
Boasted of good deeds.What did he boast about?
Note: As a rule, most pupils and students find it very easy to determine the accusative and dative object. Most, however, have difficulties with the genitive object. Although this is not represented as often as the other types of objects, it does appear from time to time. It can be helpful to take a close look at the articles for the respective noun. These usually reveal whether it is in the genitive (→ to the genitive overview).

Prepositional object

The Prepositional object is an object that is in the accusative or dative case. It differs from the other objects because the case of the object is determined by a preposition. There are verbs that are always used together with a preposition. If such a verb forms the predicate, the object that follows the required preposition is a prepositional object.

Let's try now asking about the object, we will notice that such a question can only ever be formulated with the preposition. In the example is the word above a preposition immediately required by the verb. Verbs from the word fieldspeak are almost always with the prepositions of or above used such as to tell about, talk about, report

Since the preposition is required directly from the verb in the predicate, it must also be part of our question. So we could ask Who are the students talking about? and would then use the prepositional object as an answerabout the teacher receive. This is in the accusative, as it relates to the preposition and Whom? or What? asked. The prepositional object can also be in the dative.

Also in this example sentence is a prepositional object. If you try to inquire about the object in the example, you have to ask a question again, which is introduced by a preposition. So we ask:"Who is Susi talking about?" and receive the prepositional object in response From your husband, which is in the dative case.

Preposition + question word + predicate + subject?
Answer: prep object
Overview: More prepositional object examples.
Subject predicate prepositional object

Example sentencequestion
Lena is waiting for the bus.What is Lena waiting for?
The children tell about the trip.Who are the children talking about?
The summer smells of flowers.