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There are a number of tricky parts to learning German, but for this question I'm particularly concerned about word order. I'm using Duolingo and I often miss questions where this is the only thing I get wrong.

Here are a few of my questions/issues:

  • What are the rules for active/infinitive verb placement?
  • How does the kind of sentence change the word order? (i.e. question vs. command)
  • Are there exceptions to these rules?

Unless all of these questions can be answered concisely here to the point where it can be easily understood (not likely), the point of this question is to ask for resources, references, games, or exercises with which to master German word order. I need a way to practice this specifically without stabbing in the dark like I do with Duolingo.

Criteria:

  • Provides explanations for all or almost every exercise
  • Specifically targets the issue of word order
  • A progress tracker would be nice, especially if it's like Duolingo's point system
  • Free would be quite nice

I imagine that a kind of drag and drop words game would be most along the lines of what I'm looking for, especially if it provided explanations for why answers are correct/incorrect. However, I'm open to other suggestions as well.

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    An obvious resource would be German.SE. Beyond that, I fear this question is likely too broad, as there are certainly thousands of correct answers. – Flimzy Jun 26 '16 at 10:36
  • I'm also learning German, and I've found a very basic rule (albeit with some exceptions) to be helpful: word order in German is almost exactly similar to word order in English. For example, the question "Hast du das Sofa?" --> "Have you the sofa?" (Or in more common English, "Do you have the sofa?"). – fi12 Jun 26 '16 at 14:35
  • @Flimzy can I narrow my criteria? I want a resource that addresses well this particular problem in learning German. – intcreator Jun 26 '16 at 16:11
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    I think the first question should be: "Is it possible to master German word order?" ;-D – J.Past Jul 25 '16 at 9:00
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    @fi12 Subordinate clauses are a bit trickier: "Wo ist das Sofa, dass ich dir gestern gekauft habe?" --> "Where is the sofa, that I you yesterday bought have?" – J.Past Jul 25 '16 at 9:07
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There are a lot of resources on German word order out there, usually giving a set of standard rules to go by.

Dartmouth College has two good pages, one that "emphasizes formal structures and prescriptive rules", and another one that is more "conceptual in nature". Even though the authors claim that the latter article takes "a more user-friendly, and ultimately more accurate approach" it is still essentially a huge list of rules requiring an extensive knowledge of grammar. You can find some (even) more detailed information on their page called A Review of German Grammar (the links are in the table under the heading 'Word Order'). I think all of this will have you covered with quite an exhaustive explanation of German word order.

If all this seems to much, then "German is easy! The blog for all who want to learn German…" might be the answer. The author Emanuel Schuchart takes a very different approach in his 3 part series of articles called German Word Order – Explained:

First we’ll take a look at the commonly known rules for word order and we’ll explain why they suck…what their shortcomings are. Then, we’ll have a look at what German word order is really about and then, we’ll finally zero in on one core idea. An idea that explains… everything*. (*word dramatized, may not actually mean everything, no refunds)

Unfortunately I was only able to read the first article of the series (It's a "2 posts a week are for free" deal and I used up my second post by clicking a wrong link), but the author seems to deliver on his promise. The criticism of "the commonly known rules for word order" and the examples given for how and why Germans don't stick to those rules are all well done (and a funny read at that), and the core idea of German being "head-final" is an interesting one. Now I'll have to wait for a week to see the application of this core idea...

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