Determining parts of sentences: exercises with solutions

Sentences are made up of words. To form a sentence, however, you cannot just randomly string together any words. You need a structure for the sentence given by the clauses.

clauses are one Unity between word and sentence and can, so to speak, as building blocks of the sentence. These building blocks you can move them as you like in the sentence or with equivalent building blocks exchange. With this help, recognizing the parts of a sentence is no longer that difficult.

If you want to learn more about clauses, check out our article.

Properties of clauses

In order to recognize clauses, it is helpful to keep their basic properties in mind.

It is important that you use clauses do not confuse with parts of speech. A noun or a name does not necessarily have to be a subject, but can, for example, also take on the role of the object within a sentence or be part of an adverbial clause.

The garden is beautiful. (garden as subject)

You have the garden beautifully decorated. (garden as accusative object)

I plant flowers in my garden. (garden as part of an adverbial determination of place)

The last example leads directly to the next important aspect of clauses: they are formally determinable. This includes that clauses can have a different amount of words. They can consist of one word, several words or even entire phrases, e.g. This is the case, for example, with subject or object sentences.

We also have articles about subject or object set. Have a look at !

clauses can different grammatical functions take, e.g. B. as subject, object or adverbial determination. They depend on the predicate element, which forms the basic structure of the sentence. You can e.g. B. determine the meaning of the verb more precisely through their case (case), but also through their content. In addition, the individual parts of the sentence have content-related tasks.

ann plants Flower in the garden.

  • The predicate highlighted in red «plants» is the activity. It says what is being done in this sentence, planting in this case.
  • The green highlighted subject»ann» is the culprit in this sentence. It takes on the task of doing the work.
  • The blue marked object «Flower» is the object with which something is made. The flowers do not become active themselves, like the subject, but something happens to them: they are planted.
  • The purple-highlighted adverbial determination of place «in the garden» gives more details about what is happening. In this case, it determines the place of activity.

the relocatability of the individual parts of a sentence is an important tool to be able to identify them as such. It is important that clauses in themselves as Unit remain, but they can be moved to another location as a complex.

ann plants Flower in the garden.

Flower plants ann in the garden.

In the garden plants ann Flower.

ann plants in the garden Flower.

recognize clauses

You can move clauses as a fixed construct (rehearsal) or replace it with another equivalent part of the sentence (exchange sample). This allows the individual units to be identified as such. If the sentence is still grammatically correct, it is a clause.

The conversion test/shift test to recognize parts of a sentence

There are different ways of building a sentence in German. The only condition is that finite verb in a main clause in indicative must come second (verb second position).

You may have also learned the finite verb in school as conjugated or bent met the form of the verb. It is the form of the verb attached to the person and the number of the subject is adjusted. Of the infinitive however, is the Basic form of the verb. A finite form of the infinitive «plants» is e.g. B. «I plant».

The indicative is the normal sentence form in German and is mainly used for normal statements. It is one of the three modes. In addition to the indicative, there is also the conjunctive and the imperative. On you will find explanations on these topics.

Since the verb comes second, this means that exactly one clause can come before the finite verb. A clause is therefore written as «creatable» designated. Moving a clause to the front within a sentence is called «Topicalization» or «apron manning».

Figure 1: Moving the individual clauses into the verb in front

You can also move the different clauses in the middle of the predicate. However, the best way to recognize parts of a sentence is to use the front line. With the conversion test you can, for example, exclude attributes as parts of a sentence.

I eat a delicious cake with my grandma. I eat a delicious cake with my grandma. A delicious cake with my grandma A delicious cake with my grandma

The conversion test quickly shows that «a delicious» does not stand alone and therefore cannot form a sentence. It must therefore always remain united with cake.

The topological field model

To determine the structure of a sentence in German, the so-called topological field model is used in linguistics. The record is divided into fields, whereby the respective record type can be determined. The so-called sentence bracket specifies that the finite verb is at the beginning of the sentence, the remaining parts of the predicate at the end of the sentence. These two positions clasp the area that is then «Midfield» is called. This is outside the brackets «Before-« or that «after field».

Front left sentence bracket Midfield Right sentence bracket Nachfeld Last year my friend celebrated New Year’s Eve without me.

You can’t just use phrase rearranging to recognize it. The method is also good for making your texts more varied. The clause that comes first in the sentence gets the most attention because it catches the eye and gets the most emphasis.

The substitute test for recognizing sentence parts

You can not only move parts of a sentence within a sentence, but also against other, equivalent parts of the sentence, e.g. B. replace a subject with another subject.

The man is walking his dog in the forest. (initial sentence)Tobias walks his dog in the forest. (Subject replaced) The man is leaving with his cat Take a walk in the forest. (Object replaced)The man walks his dog at the port to stroll. (adverb clause replaced)

You can just make up another subject/object/adverbial. Alternatively, you can also try whether you can use a (question) pronoun, a pronominal adverb or an adverb for the supposed part of the sentence. If this is possible, the complex is a clause.

Lisa eats cake with a fork at 4 p.m.

  • «Lisa» is a part of the sentence because it is pronoun «You» can be substituted.
    • she eats cake with a fork at 4 p.m.
  • «at 4 p.m.» is a part of the sentence because it is adverb «then» can be substituted.
    • she eats then cake with a fork.
  • «Cake» is a part of the sentence because you can also use it with the pronoun can replace «him».
    • She eats at 4 p.m him with a fork.
  • «With a fork» is a phrase because it is replaced by the pronominal adverb «so that» can be substituted.
    • She eats at 4 p.m in order to Cake.

«With» is a prepositional adverb for «with a fork». In that case, it would be moved to a different place in the sentence, because pronouns or pronominal adverbs, such as «so» are not at the end of an ordinary sentence.

If you want to delve a little more into the clauses, especially the exchange sample, you could play the following game with someone:

You will need a piece of paper and a pen each. Make the following table on the piece of paper:

Subject | predicate | object | Adverbial determination of time | Adverbial determination of place

Now player 1 begins to think of any subject and enters it in the corresponding column of the table. This is folded in such a way that you can no longer see the column and the piece of paper is passed on to the next player. This writes any predicate in the corresponding line and breaks it as well. The slip is passed on in this way until all columns have been filled out.

The piece of paper is then opened again and you can read the resulting sentence. Since none of you knew, apart from your own word, what words are in the other columns, the content of the sentence will be nonsensical and funny things can come out of it. However, you will find that the sentence will be grammatically correct.

The game illustrates the exchange samplebecause it becomes clear that you could use a clause of the same rank for every clause without destroying the grammatical structure of the sentence.

Determine individual clauses

Now that you can determine what a sentence element is, the following part is about defining it more precisely.

The special position of the predicate

As you may have noticed in the first part of the article, the predicate has a special meaning. It’s the basic building block of the sentence, on which the subject and objects depend and which is determined more precisely by the adverbial clauses. All other parts of the sentence refer to the predicate in a certain way.

The predicate always has a verb as a core, but it can also consist of several words.

Shopping – I go shopping. (a = verb particle)

I did shopping. (Perfect: auxiliary verb + participle II)

Unlike the other parts of the sentence, you cannot move the predicate either. In declarative sentences in the indicative, the finite verb always comes in second place. If there is an infinite verb, it goes at the end of the main clause.

If you want to ask about the predicate, you ask about the activity of the subject: What is the subject doing?

Anna plants flowers in the garden.

What is Anna doing?

– She plants.

Since the predicate cannot be moved, you can easily recognize it by its position in the sentence. In declarative sentences in the indicative, the predicate comes second.

Lisa helps her little brother with his homework.

In questions or in the imperative, the predicate comes first.

Can you please help me

help me!

In subordinate clauses, the predicate comes last.

Thank you for being me help.

recognize subjects

The main characteristics of the subject:

  • The subject is a noun, pronoun or a proper noun.
  • The subject is always in Nominative and can with «Who or what» be asked.
  • The subject states who or what carries out the activity described in the predicate.
  • As it relates directly to the predicate, it agrees with it in person and number.

In order to recognize the subject, you can use the points mentioned as a guide. You can search for the «culprit» on the content level.

The activity «eating» is carried out by Tobias. So Tobias is the subject.

But keep in mind that the predicate does not necessarily have to be an activity, but can also be a state.

«Being» is not…