Completely confused with the Grammar

Gabriel talks about grammar usage and taking "simple" sentences from the grammar book. In his book he is talking about feeding language machine efficiently & comprehension. But if for example studying German, on a site 49 of Hammer's German grammar and usage i find sentence: "Ist die Politik erst einmal auf die Straße verlegt, dann wird sich die Straße ihrer annehmen". How can i remember what this sentence even means without any sort of translations? I have the translation in here right behind this sentence writte in a book, but later i will totally forget it, and i will never learn what grammar rule this sentence even tries to teach me, even if i cover the word "ihrer" -> Ist die Politik erst einmal auf die Straße verlegt, dann wird sich die Straße __ annehmen So my question is, if i may not put any sort of translation in the back of the card, what should i do then? Just add up more pictures to this sentence? Thank you.

* Originally posted by Skyline.

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  • You should try and use example sentences where you know every word - or at least enough words so that you understand the structure of the sentence right away. I know nothing about German, but this example sentence looks very complicated (I just put it in Google Translate, so apologies if I'm wrong). It looks like some kind of proverb? I would skip this sentence.

    Stick to sentences like "I wrote a letter", "The dog is unhappy", or "If it rains I'll take an umbrella" for when you're getting a little more advanced. You do NOT want your Anki deck filled with sentences you don't understand. You will snap your smartphone in half - or worse: give up your language learning goal.

    Ideally, your grammar book should be full of simple sentences. If it's not, then make up your own and post them on (keep them SIMPLE and use words you already know). After you get either corrections or a thumbs up from the lang-8 people, put it in your deck with some kind of picture.

    Bonus points if you come up with an example sentence that is personal (I am [your profession], I'm learning German because [your actual reason]).

    Hope that helps!

    * Originally posted by taomustbeturtle.
  • The Hammer book is pretty intense for Anki cards. Search "German Grammar pdf" and similar searches and you'll find free grammar books that have simpler sentences (they will be old, but the grammar will still be correct). You can also find super cheap used grammar books, used classroom books and the like at book sales.

    Online sources and reviewers are great, but for the quantity of sentences you need, finding a good book or two is your best bet. I found a used copy of "German in Review" by Sparks and Van Horn Vail, and it has lots of simple sentences illustrating grammar rules.

    * Originally posted by jhengis.
  • Hi, I'm still having trouble working out what to do with grammar. Take learning the French subjunctive for example.

    1. For regular verbs or verbs that are very similar do I take each of 1st, 2nd, 3rd person singular and 1st, 2nd 3rd person plural and make cars with examples sentences for each of them? Or do I do a general card with something like: Il faut que tu ... (front) and then boives - 3e personne du pluriel = ils boivent for stem plus ending?
    2. For irregular verbs, do I again make cards for each person or just a general one?

    In all that could mean six sets of cards for just about every verb form and each irregular verb for each tense is that right?

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.
  • Hi,

    will no-one follow this one up? I have tried really hard to workout what to do with grammar but still can't get it. I've been using the cards for vocab over the past few months and that is going great but can't work out how the grammar is organized.

    In addition, like another post mentioned I find the Schaum's grammar book for French a bit referency, but at least I've got it!

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.
  • I can only offer my own experience, and it's with Spanish rather than French. With the subjunctive, I've made example sentences:

    • for one example verb of each regular conjugation (e.g. -ar, -er and -ir verbs)

    • for an example of each type of irregular verb (I don't know about French, but Spanish has lots of "irregular" verbs which actually follow the same regular pattern)

    • and example sentences for every truly irregular verb.

    For each of these I made an example sentence for each person/number/formality combination. So, for example, for regular -ar verbs I made eight example sentences involving the verb hablar, one for each of "yo" (I), "tú" (you), "él/ella" (he/she), usted (you, formal), "nosotros" (we), "vosotros" (you pl.), "ellos" (they), "ustedes" (you pl. formal). (I could have got away with leaving out "usted", and "ustedes", since these are always the same as "él" and "ella" respectively.)

    I had to write most of these, as my grammar book didn't have examples for all of them. I checked the sentences on

    Here are some examples:

    Es necesario que yo ____ con el médico. (hablar)
    Es necesario que yo hable con el médico.

    En el futuro, espero que ____ con extraterrestres. (nosotros / hablar)
    En el futuro, espero que hablemos con extraterrestres.

    Como vegetariano, es importante que ____ suficiente proteína. (yo / comer)
    Como vegetariano, es importante que coma suficiente proteína.

    I also include a little conjugation table in the "Extra info" field for each card, but it's not something I test myself on when using the cards, it's just for reference.

    As for remembering what the sentences mean, it's much easier to do this when you write them yourself, but if you're using textbook sentences then perhaps you should also make flash cards for any words you don't know.

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • P.S. This is just for learning the verb forms. In terms of learning when it's appropriate to use the subjunctive, I'm just going through my textbook and making sentence flash cards like the above for each new situation where the subjunctive should be used. I'm using Schaum's textbook for Spanish, which generally uses pretty simple sentences. Where a textbook sentence contains a word I don't understand, I look it up and make a vocabulary flash card for it at the same time.

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • SF - Thank you, thank you for follow up. Your explanation is pretty clear and your example sentences are just what I was after, just to get the general idea.

    One question. You say you include a conjugation table in the notes. Is this a full conjugation table such as (in French) Je boive, tu boives, il/elle boive, nous bouvions, vous bouviez, ils/elle s boivent?

    Still, a lot of tenses, irregularities etc etc. LOTS of cards, ... sigh ... well better get too it.

    Merci beaucoup or should I say muchas gracias!

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.
  • It is a lot of cards, but it's quite fun trying to come up with the most memorable sentences, or imagining sceneries in which you might say them. I try to see it as a game rather than a chore.

    Here is an example of one of my subjunctive card pairs. Disclaimer: I'm just another learner like you, I'm not fluent in Spanish yet, etc.

    Card 1

    Card 2

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • Sorry, I got the link wrong for Card 2:

    Card 2

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • P.S. I made a typo in post #9727. I should have said:

    (I could have got away with leaving out “usted”, and “ustedes”, since these are always the same as “él” and “ellos” respectively.)

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • Thank you very much sf!

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.
  • Hi now I have a question on Mnemonics. I've searched the site in vain so...

    Does one come up with a Mnemonic for each form of verbe? For example in Schaum's Outline of French Grammar there are many types of nouns and I've listed some of them below.

    Is the idea to decide say, that first conjugation regular verbs (-er verbs) are associated with the sun for example, put that in any card that references a particular verb, parler and/or make ups sentences?

    And I guess I need a mnemonic for each type of verb for example courir, rire, rompre, conclure; Battre and mettre and whenever they are in the Anki cards I have a reference to that mnemonic in their cards. I then make up sentences for each of the forms; je, tu, elle/il etc and also somehow incorporate that mnemonic into it.

    Is that the idea?

    Here's a sample:
    The Present Tense First Conjugation Verbs.
    Verbs Beginning with a Vowel.
    Verbs with Spelling Changes:
    Verbs ending in -cer and -ger;
    Verbs with -é- in the infinitive;
    Verbs with -e- in the infinitive;
    Verbs with -yer in the infinitive.
    Second Conjugation Verbs.
    Third Conjugation Verbs.
    Irregular Verbs:
    Verbs like ouvrir;
    Verbs like courir, rire, rompre, conclure; Battre and mettre;
    Verbs like partir; Vaincre;
    Verbs like connaître;

    Crocker, Mary (2013-09-13). Schaum's Outline of French Grammar (Schaum's Foreign Language Series) (Kindle Locations 182-199). McGraw-Hill Education. Kindle Edition.

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.
  • My understanding is that you only use mnemonics to learn things that (a) you find it difficult to remember and (b) need to be memorised, because they are "arbitrary facts" that cannot be deduced from the rules of the grammar.


    • Gender of nouns in German (because the form and meaning of the noun doesn't tell you anything about the gender of the noun

    • Which verbs follow a "stem-changing" pattern in Spanish (because you can't tell if it's a stem-changing verb just by looking at the infinitive).

    • I don't know if such a language exists, but if a language groups verbs into regular conjugations, but you can't tell which conjugation a regular verb belongs to by looking at the dictionary form of the verb, you would use mnemonics to remember which conjugation a verb belongs to.

    All the examples I've seen are to do with fitting words into groups, where group membership is something that cannot be reasoned to but just has to be remembered.

    I know nothing about French, but I suppose the place to start would be to identify which things seem "arbitrary" in French grammar. Are there groups of verbs which follow the same pattern, but for which there is no rule to determine whether a verb belongs to that group? Can you tell the gender of a noun by looking at its form or meaning, or does it need to be memorised?

    That's take on it anyway.

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • That post is full of typos. Shame there's no working edit function! I meant to say "That's MY take on it, anyway".

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • Is the idea to decide say, that first conjugation regular verbs (-er verbs) are associated with the sun for example, put that in any card that references a particular verb, parler and/or make ups sentences?

    I don't think the mnemonics are something you put on cards (except cards which directly ask "what is the menemonic for x?"). I think they are something you use in your imagination when creating a card vocabulary for a word, or when you fail to remember the fact in question.

    I can't help directly with French, but I can give a Spanish example.

    Let's say I have a mnemonic for verbs which conjugate like "venir" (to come). My mnemonic is that these verbs are carried out by Javier Bardem.

    Now I encounter a card like this:

    Ella ___ un coche. (tener)

    And I answer: "tene"

    The actual answer is "tiene" (which I would have known had I remembered that "tener" follows the same pattern as "venir").

    At that moment, I take a moment to imagine Javier Bardem as the subject of "tener". For example, I think "Javier Bardem tiene un Oscar" ("Javier Bardem has an Oscar") and I imagine him triumphantly clutching his Oscar trophy. Or I think "Javier Bardem y Penelope Cruz tiene dos hijos" ("Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have two children") and imagine the film stars playing with their children.

    This is something I do either when I create a vocabulary card for "tener", or when I make a mistake and forget that "tener" conjugates like "venir".

    But this is just my understanding, I could be wrong.

    * Originally posted by sf.
  • Thanks sf I'll keep working on it!

    * Originally posted by DonPolo.

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