Besser Deutsch - German online Lessons
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Tekamolo-Rule will help you to form correct German sentences

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Sentence structure in German is sometimes quite difficult, even for advanced learners. Especially when it comes to correctly arranging the objects or complements in the middle part (Mittelteil) of a sentence. But there is a simple trick that will help you to form correct sentence. It is called Tekamolo-Rule

Let’s look at a few normal German sentences. You can divide a sentence into four parts: The front part (Vorne), the front verb (Links), the middle part (Mittelteil) and the back verb (Rechts). But not every sentence needs two verbs. And here are the examples:

VorneLinksMittelteilRechts
Peterkauftein neues Auto
Wirhabenein neues Autogekauft
Der Zahnarztziehtdem Mann einen Zahn
Erwirdmorgen dem Mann einen Zahnziehen
Mariaistam Wochenende wegen einer Ausstellung schnell nach Wiengefahren

In many propositional sentences, the subject is in the first position (Vorne). In the second position (Links) you find the conjugated verb. It is conjugated to fit the subject of the sentence. Sometimes a sentence needs a second verb. It is not conjugated and is at the end of the sentence (Rechts).

It gets a bit more complicated in the middle section. It remains unchanged when you change the tense, but word order is very important in the German language, even in the middle part.

The Te-Ka-Mo-Lo Rule

This rule is one of the most useful aids for anyone learning German as a foreign language. It helps you to formulate even longer sentences correctly. But what does „tekamolo“ actually mean? It stands for temporal (when?), kausal (why?), modal (how?) and lokal (where?) and shows you the order of the complements for the middle part of your sentence.

Let’s look at three examples in our table. To make it easier for you to recognise the individual elements, we have colour-coded the temporal, causal, modal and local components of the middle part. As you can see, the order always remains the same.

VorneLinksMittelteilRechts
Peteristgestern wegen des starken Unwetters ganz nass zum Deutschkursgekommen
Mariamussmorgen aufgrund ihrer starken Schmerzen zum Zahnarztgehen
Wirgehenheute trotz der großen Kälte lange im Waldspazieren

Rearranging parts of a sentence

If you want to write in a more varied way, you can put the causal or temporal complement in front. Don’t worry, there is no special emphasis. The subject is placed directly after the verb.

VorneLinksMittelteilRechts
Peteristgestern wegen des starken Unwetters ganz nass zum Deutschkursgekommen
GesternistPeter wegen des starken Unwetters ganz nass zum Deutschkursgekommen
Wegen des starken UnwettersistPeter gestern ganz nass zum Deutschkursgekommen
Mariamussmorgen aufgrund ihrer starken Schmerzen zum Zahnarztgehen
MorgenmussMaria aufgrund ihrer starken Schmerzen zum Zahnarztgehen
Aufgrund ihrer starken SchmerzenmussMaria morgen zum Zahnarztgehen
Wirgehenheute trotz der großen Kälte lange im Waldspazieren
Heutegehenwir trotz der großen Kälte lange im Waldspazieren
Trotz der großen Kältegehenwir heute lange im Waldspazieren

Caution with reflexive verbs

It is a little more complicated with reflexive verbs. Here, the reflexive pronoun is directly after the verb. Unless you use a personal pronoun, in which case it comes after the personal pronoun. Sounds complicated? Let’s look at two examples:

VorneLinksMittelteilRechtsAnmerkung
Mariahatsich heute wegen der Verspätung ihres Zuges im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertNormaler Satzbau
Wegen der Verspätung ihres Zugeshatsich Maria heute im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertKausale Ergänzung an erster Stelle.
Heutehatsich Maria wegen der Verspätung ihres Zuges im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertTemporale Ergänzung an erster Stelle.
Siehatsich heute wegen der Verspätung ihres Zuges im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertNormaler Satzbau aber anstatt des Namens wird ein Personalpronomen (sie) verwendet.
Wegen der Verspätung ihres Zugeshatsie sich heute im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertKausale Ergänzung an erster Stelle.
Achtung: Wenn du ein Personalpronomen verwendest, steht das Reflexivpronomen dahinter.
Heutehatsie sich wegen der Verspätung ihres Zuges im Servicecenter der BahnbeschwertTemporale Ergänzung an erster Stelle.
Achtung: Wenn du ein Personalpronomen verwendest, steht das Reflexivpronomen dahinter.

You can remember as a rule of thumb: The reflexive pronoun either comes after the verb or, if you use a personal pronoun, after the personal pronoun. But always after…

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