In English, when we want to say “Yes” to a question, we often use structures like this:
- Yeah, I have.
- Yeah, I can.
- Yeah, I am.
It just sounds a bit more conversational and smooth than a simple “Yes.”
But how to say “Yeah, I have.” and the others in German?
Well, German does the same way in principle but there is one important difference – the word order.
- Ja, hab’ ich.
- Ja, kann ich.
- Ja, bin ich.
As you can see, the order is switched around and the verb comes first.
If you already know some things about German, you might be like: “Yeah, that’s because the ja is in position one and the verb has to come in position two in German.”
And you’re not completely wrong. But in actuality, the “ja” is not really part of the sentence. Instead what’s really going on structurally is this:
- Ja, [das] hab’ ich.
The das is basically a reference to whatever you’re affirming but it daily life it is almost always skipped.
Does this structure work with all verbs?
Well, technically yes.
But it’s mainly used with the basic verbs of every day life.
- haben, sein, werden (that includes all their forms like hätte, wäre or würde)
- the modal verbs (können, wollen, sollen…)
- basic every day verbs (gehen, kommen, sehen, hören, machen,…)
This structure is definitely something you should start using, because not only will it make you sound extremely authentic. It’ll also get you used to the flow of having the verb come before ich.
Oh, by the way… there’s a special version of this phrasing that you can use to answer to someone making a direct request or order. I have to go now, but I’ll add that to the archive when I’m back from the farm.