Forum Rocket German German Grammar Placement of the Time Element in German Sentence Structure

Placement of the Time Element in German Sentence Structure



It's not clear to me where the time element should/can be placed in German sentence structure when the sentence contains a direct and/or indirect object. I thought that direct and/or indirect objects were placed BEFORE the element of time, e.g. Ich möchte die Jacke heute kaufen. Ich möchte ihm morgen sagen. Sie will ihnen die Geschichte heute erzählen. But I recently came across the sentence: Sie will ihm morgen das Geschenk geben. Is this last example in line with strict German grammer rules? Is there flexibility in the placement of the time element in German sentence structure? Perhaps this form is more colloquial? Help! What is the rule for the placement of the time element in a sentence when there also exists a direct/indirect object?   


Guten Tag PaulS108,

Thank you for your question!

There is quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to German word oder. Let's use your example "Ich möchte die Jacke heute kaufen." - "I would like to buy the jacket today."
In English, there are only two possible ways of saying this:
"I would like to buy the jacket today." and "Today, I would like to buy the jacket."

In German however, there are four possible options:
"Ich möchte die Jacke heute kaufen."
"Ich möchte heute die Jacke kaufen."
"Heute möchte ich die Jacke kaufen."
"Die Jacke möchte ich heute kaufen."

While the placement of the time element is quite flexibel, it is important to remember that the conjugated verb is always in second position. Also, the subject and conjugated verb always stay together and can't be separated. 

For more information on this Lesson 7.6 'Word Order Rules' would be worth looking at:

I hope this helps.



TMP is the easiest way to remember;  Time, Manner, Place.  The opposite of English.


Robert - I am familiar with TMP (more all-encompassing known as TeKaLoMo), but that didn’t shed light on my question. Please re-read my question and then Julia’s answer. 


I wasn't intending it to shed light on your question, since she answered it quite well and none of her sentences contain the elements of manner or place.  Glad you are familiar with the concept, which is obviously the next step to understanding German word order. When I was first learning the language 47 years ago, TMP was very helpful to me.

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