Paul Diderichsen, who was professor of Danish at the university of Copenhagen from 1943 until his death in 1964, invented the sentence schema, which I am going to explain below. It is a way of looking at and understanding how a Danish sentence is structured, and understanding even parts of it can lead to a heightened awareness of Danish grammar in general (as you can hear, I am very much in love with this model).
Before watching these videos, however, you need to know about basic sentence analysis. So if you are in doubt about how to find a subject, verb and so on, go and watch the videos on “sentence analysis” first.
“FvnaVNA” – is that Klingon?
It is in fact the basic units of the sentence schema. If they look confusing, just look again and you will see that the middle part is actually the same as the latter part (or at least we use the same letters, which is because the parts resemble each other). And there is more good news: There is nothing more to learn than those 7 letters (ok, there are a few things, but save them for later – they are not important right now!)
Quiz: Sentence schema 1
What better place to be than the front position
This unique feature of Danish syntax gives the language a lot of flexibility. In the beginning, however, it can be slightly annoying as it leads to frequent inversion. Mastering it, however, will mean that you can juggle around the different parts of the sentence almost at will, colouring it in different ways and focusing on the particular aspects that suit you.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
If you have only just started learning Danish and have watched the videos above, you are doing well. However, I would suggest saving this video for later as it deals with a very specific, though important, exception.
This video explores “n” in greater detail, showing you how it can be occupied by other elements than the subject, elements that normally belong in “N” or “A”.
You might be subordinate but we still love you
When you first learned about grammar, your teacher might have told you that subordinate clauses – which are also called dependent clauses – can be left out and that main clauses work on their own. I am not going to enter into a long discussion on the topic, suffice it to say that I do not like this definition.
My definition is grammatical, and if you know how to analyse a sentence you will find it very easy to understand (if not you can always watch the videos on sentence analysis again).
This video is important because Danish word order is different in main clauses and subordinate clauses (the position of “a” causing most of the confusion).
Black belt in sentence schema
This video is special in that it is irrelevant to most learners. It deals with rather special cases and tricky sentences that need special analysis. Personally, I love it, but I don’t blame you if you just want to shake your head in disbelief.
Why not check out…
Danish Review 2012 / 2013 / 2014: Translation, food, politics, music, literature and much more