TeKaMoLo: How to arrange different adverbs in a sentence

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When it comes to positioning the different parts that make a sentence, it is quite definite in the German language. This is one beautiful aspect of German. Adverbs in particular are placed in the third position (I.e directly after the verb and before the object) except the object (Akkusativ or Dativ) is a pronoun. In this regard, the order for a German sentence that contains an adverb can either be; Subject + Verb + Adverb + Object(noun) or Subject + Verb + Object(pronoun) + Adverb

Content in this post
1. Full meaning of TeKaMoLo
2. How to position an adverb in a sentence
3. How to form an adverb with a preposition
4. Examples of TeKaMoLo adverbs and how they are used in sentences
Table of content for TeKaMoLo

It is one thing to know that an adverb belongs either in the third or fourth position (depending on the type of object) but it takes a lot more to decide which adverb should be placed before which when you have more that one adverb in the same sentence (which is the only reason why the knowledge of TeKaMoLo is needed) but then you are stuck at what adverb takes third, fourth, fifth sixth position etc. This can be seen in the exemplary sentence “Der Bus wurde gestern wegen der Bauarbeiten sehr langsam nach Berlin gefahren

Do you have a series of Adverbs in a sentence like the one above and are wondering which one to place before which? Well, good news! TeKaMoLo is your answer 😉. TeKaMoLo is a german acronym for the four major categories of adverbs in german which guides you on how to correctly position an adverb in a sentence. Each abbreviation is described below.

1. Te; in full means Temporal Adverbs.
2. Ka; means Kausal Adverbs.
3. Mo; stands for Modal adverbs.
4. Lo; stands for Lokal Adverbs.

Temporal Adverbs

Temporal Adverb is the category of adverb that involves Time. It is the first consideration when it comes to placing an adverb in a sentence in the case of multiple adverbs. It is made up of two groups of adverbs; adverbs of time and Zeitangaben.

Adverbs of time are usually coined from certain adjectives and are single in form; for example heute, gestern, früh, spät e.t.c. while “Zeitangaben” are formed with prepositions such as in and an or adjectives plus nouns; for example “in der Nacht”, “am Morgen”, “letzte Woche” e.t.c. The examples of this category of adverbs are often used in response to the question word “when” or “wann” in German. For instance;

Wann fliegt der Flugzeug nach Köln?
(when is the plane flying to Cologne?)
Das Flugzeug fliegt am Abend nach Köln.
(The plane is flying to Cologne in the evening.)
Wann hast du diese Schuhe gekauft?
(when did you buy these shoes?)
Ich habe sie gestern gekauft.
(I bought them yesterday)
Sentences with Temporal adverbs

Kausal Adverbs

Kausal Adverbs are those that are associated with “why” (warum) something is done. They explain the, aim, reason, purpose or cause of an action. This category of adverbs always comes second in the series. They can sometimes be formed with the preposition “für” (that is, für + noun) but only when it explains the reason or purpose of an action and not the benefactor (persons/animals). For example, compare the sentences “Ich kaufe für die Hochzeit Blumen1 and “Ich kaufe Blumen für die Braut2.

In sentence1 which translates to “I am buying flowers for the wedding”, the purpose of buying the flower is the wedding. The second sentence translates to “I am buying flowers for the bride”. Here the bride is benefiting from what I am buying and so can not be an adverb.

Sentence1 can be expressed with other prepositions such as “wegen” then it becomes “Ich kaufe Blumen wegen der Hochzeit” but then also, it is equally an adverb and a Genitiv prepositional object just like the sentence with “für” is both an adverb and an Akkusativ prepositional object.

The second sentence can also be expressed in the Dativ as “Ich kaufe der Braut Blumen”. Some examples of modal adverbsare; daher, sonst, wegen, darum, hierfür, nämlich, folglich, also, gleichwohl, dennoch, demzufolge etc.

Warum hast du diese Schuhe gekauft?
(Why did you buy these shoes?)
Ich habe sie für das Musikkonzert gekauft.
(I bought them for the music concert)
Sentences with kasual adverbs

Modal Adverbs

Modal Adverbs describe the manner, frequency, means or method in which something is done. It is connected with the question words “wie” (how), wie oft (how often) etc. The examples include; glücklich, traurig, schnell, langsam, furchtbar, kaum, einfach, leicht, schön, selten, immer, manchmal (happily, sadly, quickly, slowly, terribly, hardly, easily, lightly, beautifully, rarely, always, sometimes) etc. They can equally be formed with the preposition durch and mit. For example;

Wie fährst du übermorgen nach Polen?
( how are you traveling to Poland a day after tomorrow?)
Ich fahre übermorgen mit dem Zug nach Polen.
(I am traveling to Poland with the train a day after tomorrow)
Wie hat Lukas letztes Jahr seine Frau kennengelernt?
(how did Lukas get to know his wife last year?)
Er hat durch die Demonstration seine Frau kennengelernt. ✅
Er hat seine Frau durch die Demonstration kennengelernt .❌
Sentences with kasual adverbs

Lokal Adverbs

Lokal Adverbs have to do with the location of a thing. It comprise of the category of adverb of place and are used in response to questions that involve the question words wo and wohin. They can either be single entities like adverbs of time (e.g hier, da, draußen, hinten, darüber etc.) or be formed with prepositions such as bei, zu, nach and in. In English, bei here would be translated as “at” while zu, nach and in would mean “to” but are used under different circumstances as explained here.

Normally, these prepositions are used with the Dativ case and this hasn’t changed even when they are called locative adverbs. They remain declined as Dativ and also apply the rules that go with Dativ. A Dativ is said to be placed before an Akkusativ except it he Akkusativ is a pronoun, likewise a prepositional object (whether Akkusativ or Dativ) should be placed after a direct or indirect object.

In a situation where the prepositional object is acting as the locative adverb, they are therefore placed before the direct or indirect object (Akkusativ or Dativ) because of the adverbial rule that demands the adverb to be directly before the object except the object is a pronoun. For example see the sentence below…

1. Man sollte immer bei der Arbeit auf Gefahren achten.
(One should always pay attention to dangers at work) ✅

2. Mann sollte immer auf Gefahren bei der Arbeit achten. ❌

In the illustration above, “immer” is an adverb of frequency which is classified under modal adverbs hence if must be placed before “bei der Arbeit” which in this scenario is a Lokal adverb.

Also, “bei der Arbeit” is placed before “auf Gefahren” because the former is a Lokal adverb while the latter is just a prepositional object.

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