The subordinate clauses are complicated and are often not fully understandable. In this article we have tried our best to explain them in the clearest way possible. Let’s get going:
A complex sentence (Satzgefüge) is formed by a main clause (Hauptsatz) and a subordinate clause (Nebensatz).
COMPLEX SENTENCE = MAIN CLAUSE + SUBORDINATE CLAUSE
Types of subordinate clause constructions:
Common subordinate clauses are the most used subordinate clauses and have the following characteristics:
It’s easier to see this with an example:
Ich wusste nicht, dass du so klug bist
I didn’t know that you were so smart
One type of subordinate clause is the conditional clause.
Infinitive subordinate clauses are characterized by not having a subject. The subject is understood by the information in the main clause. The subject that is omitted from the subordinate clause can be either the main clause’s subject or its direct/indirect object or another that is understood to be there.
Er hat den Befehl gegeben, ihn nicht zu stören
He gave the order to not disturb him
An example of this type of clause is:
Hast Du die Lampe, die du gestern gesehen hast, gekauft?
Did you buy the lamp that you saw yesterday?
This type if clause is explained in: Relative clauses
With the clauses of the Konjunktiv I it is not necessary to use a conjunction. You simply say:
Martin sagt, er sei Schauspieler
Martin says he’s an actor
Even though it is also ok to use "dass":
Martin sagt, dass er Schauspieler sei
In German, you have to put in a comma to separate the main clause (Hauptsatz) from the subordinate clause (Nebensatz)
Ich mache, was ich will
I do what I want
As we stated previously, the typical structure of a subordinate clause is:
COMPLEX SENTENCE= MAIN CLAUSE + SUBORDINATE CLAUSE
ich weiß nicht, ob er mich liebt
I don’t know if he loves me
Sometimes, more importance is given to the subordinate clause and therefore it comes first:
COMPLEX SENTENCE = SUBORDINATE CLAUSE + MAIN CLAUSE
Ob er mich liebt, weiß ich nicht
Whether/if he loves me, I don’t know
It should be emphasized that the subordinate clause now occupies the first position in the sentence, which makes the subject move to the 3rd position so that the verb stays in the second position.