Elena Sokolova, August 29th 2022
Many mistakes in word order in Danish appear due to confusion between the main and the subclause. Additionally, knowing the rules about Danish structure may be very helpful while doing Reading tasks in Prøve i Dansk 2 and Prøve i Dansk 3. Here is the short overview of the main rules of Danish word order.
The main clause is an utterance which:
All kinds of adverbs and the second verb are optional as wel as object(s) and their presence depends on the context. The paretheses show optional parts of the sentence.
Han (S) er (V1) også/altid/ikke/aldrig/sommetider/nogle gange (Central adverb) glad for sine arbejdsopgaver (Object). = He is also/always/not/never/sometimes/from time to time happy about his working tasks.
Man (S) skal (V1) først (Free Adverb) bestå (Verb2) en dansprøve (Object) for at få en permanent opholdstilladelse i Danmark (Adverb). - One should first pass a Danish exam in order to obtain a permanent residence permit.
By inversion we mean that the first verb comes before the subject. Do not call other trasformations of word order inversion, becasue it is confusing. All kinds of adverbs and the second verb are optional as well as object(s), and their presence depends on the context.
For at få en permanent opholdstilladelse i Danmark (Inversion trigger) skal (V1) man (S) først (Free adverb) bestå (V2) en danskprøve (Object).
In order to know if you need to make inversion or not, you need to decide a) whether you deal with a main clause (see conditions above) and b) whether you start with an inversion trigger. So you need to learn types of inversion triggers.
They are usually a single word or a longer adverbial phrase. To know whether you deal with a free adverb, you should just see that it’s not a central one, by the method of exclusion. The central adverbs can be learned from a list, while the number of free adverbs is larger and they are vary varied. You usually do not start any sentence with central adverbs, so they are not inversion triggers. The list of central adverbs can be found here: Categories of central adverbs.
Først (Adverb) skal (V1) man (S) bestå (V2) (pass) en danskprøve for at få en permanent opholdstilladelse i Danmark. = First one should pass a Danish exam to get a permanent residence permit in Denmark.
Hvis man har bestået en dansk prøve (a subordinate clause of condition), kan (V1) man søge om statsborgerskab. = If one has passed a Danish exax, one can apply for a Danish citizenshsip.
Danskprøven bestod jeg for 2 år siden. = A Danish exam, I passed it two years ago.
Hvad er (V1) betingelserne (S) for at få en permanent opholdstilladelse i Danmark? = What are the conditions for obtaining a permanent residence permit in Denmark?
The subordiante clause is an utterance which:
Han siger (main clause), (what he then says is subclause) at (=that, conjunction) han (S) også/altid/ikke/aldrig/sommetider/nogle gange (Central or Free adverb(s)) er træt af sine arbejdsopgaver. = He says, that he also/always/not/never/sometimes/from time to time happy about his working tasks.
Here after comma, at is a subclause conjunction, which connects the main and the subclause. It can be omitted unlike many other subclause conjucntions, but usually it is a good idea to use the subclasue conjunciton explicitely to signal for yourself, that you deal now with a subclause, where inversion is not normal and occurs only in cases you have a complex sentence with several subclauses in a row… Conjunctions of subclause can also have a double rolle, they may also at the same time be a subcejt.
Jeg har et krævende (=demanding) arbejde (main clause), =>(subclause of reference) der/som (conj.=’which’ is also a subjcet here) nogle gange (Adverb 1) også (Adverb 2) kan (V1) være (V2) stressende. = I have a demanding job, which sometimes can be stressfull.
Jeg kan fortsætte med at arbejde i samme firma (mail clause), (subclause of condition) hvis (‘if’) jeg (S) heldigvis (A) (fortunately) kan (V1) få (V2) forlænget (get extended) min kontrakt. = I can continue to work in the same company, if I fortunately get my contract extended.
Remember, that the word order inside the subclause does not change and is sort of ‘frozen’, now matter whether it comes before or after the main clause. While the word order of the main clause becomes with inversion, if the subclasue comes before the main, as mentioned above the subclasue is a intersion trigger in the main one.
See the same sentence as above, but with the subclause, coming firsrt.
Hvis jeg (S) heldigvis (A) får (V1) forlænget min kontrakt (frozen subclause order), kan (V1) jeg (S) måske (Free adverb) fortsætte (V2) med at arbejde i samme firma.
To navigate confidently in the sphere of subclauses you need to learn the list of subclause conjunctions. When you see that you use this conjunctions, and they are from the subclause conjuntion group, you better remember to make the SAV1 order typical only of the subclasue. And you will never confuse this order with the inversion of the verb on the main clausue, beacuse the SAV order of the subclause has nothing to do with inversion.
Do you have questions, comments or suggestions - email to firstname.lastname@example.org.