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Sentence structures

The chapter "Sentence structures" describes which constituents (predicate, subject, objects, adverbials) can or must combine to form a sentence. The order of the constituents in a sentence is not treated here, but in the chapter "Word Order".

Valency is an important concept in the description of the sentence structures. The valency of a verb determines the other constituents the verb can or must combine with to form a sentence. Verbs that take the same number and type of constituents belong to the same valency class. A valency class corresponds to a sentence structure. There are also a few valency classes based on the valency of adjectives.

A verb can belong to more than one valency class:

Verb: rollen Valency class = sentence structure
Der Ball rollt.  subject   predicate 
Sie rollt den Ball.   subject   predicate  accusative object

The difference in valency often – but not always – corresponds to a difference in meaning.

Sentence structures describe valency classes, i.e. classes of verbs that combine with the same constituents or complements. They are used to classify the infinite number of possible sentences into a finite number of groups. Therefore, the chapter "Sentence structures" does not describe the valency structure of individual verbs (refer to specialized dictionaries for this information), but it describes the structures of entire valency classes.

The sentence structures are described under the following topics:

Valency and sentence structure  Correlation between verb, valency and sentence structure
Complements What kinds of complements are there?
Primary sentence structures Sentence structures of verbs
Secondary sentence structures "Sentence" structures of adjectives

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