Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

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According to many, the word order is one of the hardest parts of the Dutch language. If you are also struggling with subordinate clauses, inversion and the like, this is the place to be.
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MeriamC
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Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by MeriamC » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:02 am

Hi all,

I have a question re the word order in the following sentence:
Als ik rijk zou zijn, kocht ik een boot

Why is this correct? I think that 'kocht ik een boot' is the main clause. But if that's correct, why isn't the sentence:
Als ik rijk zou zijn, ik kocht een boot
Why the inversion?

Obviously, I'm missing something here, but I just can't figure out what it is...

Thanks a lot in advance for your help!

Meriam

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Joke
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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by Joke » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:56 am

You're right that in the sentence "Als ik rijk zou zijn, kocht ik een boot", kocht ik een boot is the main clause.
And also that in a main clause, the finite verb always comes second.

In the sentence 'Gisteren kocht ik een boot', there is inversion because the sentence starts with something else than the subject (gisteren).
Your sentence also starts with something that's not the subject, only in this case, the part that's placed in front is a whole subclause instead of a word. But that still causes inversion in the main clause.

Joke

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by MeriamC » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:09 pm

Hi Joke,

Thanks a lot for your reply! I knew that when I put something before the subject/ FF part of the sentence, I would get inversion. But I didn't realise that this also applies when I put an entire sub clause before the main clause.

So just to make sure I got this right: every time I make a sentence that consists of a sub and a main clause and the sub clause comes first, there will be inversion in the main clause?

Thanks a lot for your help! I've been teaching Dutch (one on one) for a couple of months and it's been an interesting journey of discovering how my own language works! :-D

Meriam

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Joke
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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by Joke » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:10 pm

Yes, I think so. I can't think of any counterexample so far. A subclause is just a part of the sentence (direct object, subject, etc.) that happens to be a sentence of its own.

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by MeriamC » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:08 am

Yes, you are right. Thanks again and have a nice day!

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by Grytolle » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:35 am

So just to make sure I got this right: every time I make a sentence that consists of a sub and a main clause and the sub clause comes first, there will be inversion in the main clause?
That is certainly correct, though the rule is probably "any time another element than the subject comes first in a main clause". It might be helpful to point out to your students that Dutch is in fact much simpler than English in this respect, because in English, the choice of using inversion or not is determined by semantic factors, e.g.:

Tomorrow I will go to work early
vs.
So often did he go to work that he was almost never home
:-)

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by MeriamC » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:46 am

You are right; I have never thought of that before. :!: I will surely point it out to her. :)
Thanks!
Meriam

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by cecilx » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:25 pm

Uhm... why Google translator translates "zou zijn" as "would be" instead of "were"?

"Als ik rijk zou zijn" means "if I WERE rich", isn't it?

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Re: Wrong word order? Reason for inversion?

Post by Grytolle » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:40 pm

Because Google Translate has its strenghts and weaknesses - the finer points of grammar isn't one of its strenghts. :D
:-)

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