When, How So, Where? German Adverbs of Time, Manner and PlaceAs we discussed, adverbs in German tend to fall into one of three categories:
- Time: When did the action happen? How often (frequency) did it occur?
- Manner: In what way was an action completed? What emotions were exhibited?
- Place: Where did an action occur?
Let’s take a closer look at some examples in each category. As you read through the examples, notice the different word order from German to English. Not all expressions translate well. However, you might consider what the sentences would lose if you removed the adverb. For example, let’s look at the following sentence:
Heute muss ich meine Hausaufgaben machen, aber sagte mir Franci, "Vielleicht morgen können wir einen Film sehen." (Today I have to do my homework, but Franci told me, "Maybe tomorrow we can see a movie.")
What if we took out the highlighted words? The sentence would lose the meaning of time and possibility. We wouldn’t know when the subject (ich or I) is doing homework, or when Franci was going to be available to see a movie. In fact, the very possibility of seeing a movie wouldn’t be expressed if we removed "maybe."
As you can see, adverbs can make a difference in everyday speech, even in the smallest of ways. Think about how important those details are when you’re expressing things. Sometimes knowing when or how something is going to happen, or has happened, can make all the difference.
Adverbs of TimeUse these to specify when an action occurs. Pay attention to word order with time-sensitive adverbs. Most often, as you can see from the bolded text, these adverbs come at the beginning of the sentence.
Nie is often used to show never having done something. Nimmer usually holds the connotation of having done something, but never wanting to do it again:Nie habe ich Deutschland besucht, doch nimmer werde ich Russia besuchen. (Never have I visited Germany, but never again will I visit Russia.)
|nachmittag||in the afternoon|
|nachts /abends||evening, at night|
- Wir gehen oft ins Kino. (We go to the movies often.)
- Oft backe ich kleine Torten für mein Freund. (Often I bake small tortes for my boyfriend.)
- Oft, as you can see, can either come first in the sentence or in third position. Emphasis is the determining factor here. When I say "We go to the movies often," I can also say, "Oft gehen wir ins Kino," meaning "Often we go to the movies." Depending on the context, conversation might lead you to use oft in the beginning of the sentence, or in third position.
- Many of the following examples work the same way.
- Manchmal trage ich meine Sonnenbrille, aber nimmer vergesse ich sie. (Sometimes I wear my sunglasses, but I never forget them.)
- Gestern bin ich in den Supermarkt gegangen. Morgen muss ich den Arzt besuchen. (Yesterday I went to the supermarket. Tomorrow I must visit my doctor.)
- Meine Mutter kommt heute, aber ich bin nicht bereit! (My mother comes today, but I’m not ready!)
- Nachmittags gehe ich in die Bibliothek, aber abends muss ich arbeiten. (In the afternoon I go to the library, but in the evening I have to work.)
- Morgens gehe ich mit Fluffy spazieren, dann gehen wir beide zusammen zur Schule. (In the morning I walk Fluffy, then we both go to school together.)
Adverbs of MannerAdverbs of this type show emotion or condition. Whether you eat furiously or run lazily, these adverbs will help you express those feelings.
- Wir fliegen natürlich zusammen nach Las Vegas. (Naturally, we fly together to Las Vegas.)
- In this case, the phrase "Of course" might better express the intent. Just as "of course" symbolizes an action would usually not occur any other way (i.e., "Of course we have to check in before we can enter."), natürlich exhibits the same properties.
- Langsam gehe ich spazieren. (I walk slowly.)
- Sicherlich habe ich heute den Abfall weggeworfen. (I’m certain I threw away the trash today.)
- In this sentence, you could also replace "I’m certain" with "Surely," as in "Surely, I threw the trash away today."
- Er macht gern seine Aufgabe, aber Kristin sitzt wütend. (He did his homework gladly, but Kristin sat angrily.)
- Lieber spreche ich mit ihm, als meine Hausaufgabe machen. (I’d rather speak with him than do my homework.)
- The English here reads: "I would rather speak," which is a different tense than is demonstrated by the German sentence; the verb "would" usually denotes subjunctive.
Adverbs of PlaceDirection and location are important and these adverbs are just what you need to express that.
Dort specifies a certain location, as in "there" or "thereabouts."
Da is a very versatile word that can be used to mean many things, depending on context. You might be pointing to a map and say da, meaning there. Or you could say da and mean here, as in "Here is where I want to plant a tree."
You can say:
- Ich wohne da. (I live here/there.)
- Da ist wo mein Haus ist. (That’s where my house is.)
- Über das Haus fliegt ein Vogel. (Over the house flies a bird.)
- This is a direct translation. More colloquially it would read: "A bird flies over the house."
- Man wendet zuerst rechts, dann links. (You turn first right, then left.)
- Drauβen regnet es, doch irgendwo habe ich einen Regenschirm. (Outside it’s raining, but somewhere I have an umbrella.)
- Warten Sie hier bitte, bis ich zurückkomme. (Wait here, please, until I come back.)
- Mein Freund geht weg, aber wir sehen uns bald! (My friend is going away, but we’re seeing each other soon!)