Forum Rocket German German Grammar Word Order - Grammar Rules regarding Direct and Indirect Object in the Same Sentence

Word Order - Grammar Rules regarding Direct and Indirect Object in the Same Sentence

PaulS108

In regard to sentences in which there appears both a direct and indirect object, I found online the following general rule:
a) If both the direct and indirect object are nouns, the indirect object comes first.  
b) If both the direct and indirect object are pronouns, the direct object comes first. 
c) If either the direct or indirect object is a pronoun, the pronoun comes first.  

I have two questions regarding the above: 
1 - Is this, in fact, a general grammar rule in German, and how strictly is it adhered to?
2 - In lesson 13.5, we are presented with the sentence, "Ich habe gestern ein tolles Kleid im Schaufenster gesehen."  The word order of this sentence is not in strict accordance with the rule in (a) above. Should I interpret this to mean that the speaker wants to place emphasis on "ein tolles Kleid" (and not simply an inversion of the direct and indirect objects without the nuance of emphasis)?

Thanking you in advance for providing some clarification on the above.   

RobertR34

It could have something to do with the "time, manner, place" rule of word order. "Schaufenster" is the place, so it would logically come at the end just before the verb. That is just my guess.

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hallo PaulS108 und RobertR34,

thank you for your question! 

1. I agree with the rules above to be used as a general guideline. However, please keep in mind that German word order can be very flexible.
Let's have a look at an example:

"Ich habe heute (time) der Mieterin (indirect object) in der Wohnung (place) die Schlüssel (direct object)  gegeben." - "I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment today."

"Ich habe der Mieterin (indirect object) heute (time) in der Wohnung (place) die Schlüssel (direct object)  gegeben." - "I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment today."

"Heute (time) habe ich der Mieterin (indirect object) in der Wohnung (place) die Schlüssel (direct object)  gegeben." - "Today I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment."

"Der Mieterin (indirect object) habe ich heute (time) in der Wohnung (place) die Schlüssel (direct object)  gegeben." - "I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment today."

"Die Schlüssel (direct object) habe ich heute (time) der Mieterin (indirect object)  in der Wohnung (place)  gegeben." - "I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment today."

"In der Wohnung (place) habe ich der Mieterin (indirect object)  heute die Schlüssel (direct object) gegeben." - "I gave the keys to the tenant (female) in the apartment today."

These are are all possible ways of saying the same thing! The first two example sentences are likely the most common ones in terms of word order. The other four emphasise different parts of the sentence such as time, indirect / direct object and place. 

2. "Ich habe gestern ein tolles Kleid im Schaufenster gesehen." - "​Yesterday I saw a great dress in a shop window."  In this example "ein tolles Kleid" is the direct object and "im Schaufenster" is the place element. There is no indirect object in this sentence. You could also switch the direct object with the place element: "Ich habe gestern im Schaufenster ein tolles Kleid gesehen."

I hope this cleared things up for you and I hope this isn't too much of an information overload! Let me know if you have any further questions and I am more than happy to help.

Viele Grüße
Julia

PaulS108

Hallo Julia,

Thank you for your thorough response. The rules of German word order are indeed flexible! Nevertheless, it is helpful at this stage in the course to know the general rules, even if they are not cast in iron. I am certain that, over time, the use (or misuse?) of German word order will begin to sound more natural to my ear. 

I appreciate having the benefit of the Forum in this course and the ability to "tap into" your knowledge and experience as a native speaker. 

Besten Grüßen,
Paul 

RobertR34

Julia,  your examples are indeed flexible, but time and place never is.  That has always been my guideline when speaking the language.

sfpugh

If you are interested in the minutiae of German grammar, there is Hammer's German Grammar and Usage 6th Ed. Marin Durrel. It's over 600 pages and has a long chapter on word order.
 

PaulS108

Hallo sfpugh,

Thank you for the reference material suggestion. I will check it out in Amazon Books. I have posted a number of enquiries in this forum since beginning the Rocket German course, and you have been most helpful in your responses.

I'm curious about your background in German and interested in knowing more about your language-learning experience:
- What is your mother tongue? What languages do you speak?
- Did you have any background in the German language before starting this course?
- How long have you been studying German?
- Have you ever lived in Germany or do you live there now?
- Do you consider yourself a fluent German speaker?
- Do/can you read German literature at this point?
- What do you do to continue to advance your German proficiency?
- In light of the points that you've accumulated and the fact that you are a Black Star Hero, I assume that you've finished Level 3 of the course. Is that the end of the Rocket German course or is there a continuation of the course after Level 3? (I ask this because there is one person in the course who has accumulated over 2 million points in Rocket German and continues to accumulate more daily points than anyone. It's not clear to me how or why he continues to accumulates these daily points and what material he continues to study within the course framework.)

Thanks in advance for your response, and I will understand if you choose not to answer some of my questions if they are too personal.

Viele Grüße
Paul

sfpugh

Thank you, I am a native English speaker from the UK, I have never lived in Germany but I have had holidays in German speaking Switzerland.
I have a German partner, but she is bilingual and it is too easy just to speak in English so she is not as much help as you might think. But I do hear quite a lot of German spoken. 
I did the Rosetta Stone beginners course and I found it a bit frustrating especially the later stages of the course, but it did include one half hour live lesson a week.

So I did Rocket levels 2 and 3 which I completed a while ago, but I come back from time to time and run through the play it sections as revision.
I really don't know how it is possible to get 2 million points, I think I have pretty much exhausted things at a million, however I didn't do level 1 so maybe the extra level makes the difference.

Currently I have conversation lessons on iTalki when we have some free conversation and I also translate some English texts into German,
I watch a lot of German shows on Netflix and ZDF.

I don't consider myself anywhere near fluent  but I can make myself understood in conversations about whats going on at home and in the world. My iTalki teacher says I am B1 heading for B2.

I wondered the same about you.
VG
Simon
 

PaulS108

Hi Simon,

Thank you for sharing your personal information with me.

I'm a relative newcomer to this course. I began Level 1 of the course last November, and I mistakenly thought at the time that I would progress much faster in getting a handle on the grammar and being able to construct and express new ideas from my head in German. I don't blame the Rocket German course - I just wasn't prepared for the amount of investment required to learn a new language! But I won't give up. My goal is to develop reasonable fluency in speech and sufficient knowledge of the language to tackle German literature in its original. I know that will take time, but hearing from people like you who have more experience and knowledge in the German language, allows me to put my own learning goals in a more realistic perspective.

I am a bi-lingual English/Hebrew speaker, with English as my mother tongue, but I have lived most of my life in Israel. My insistence in learning German stems from my interest in WWII history, in general, and the Nazi movement, in particular. The German language, for me, is an integral part of learning about the period of history that sparks my interest.

Thanks again for getting back to me. It makes this digital platform for language learning a bit more personal and enjoyable.

All the best to you,
Paul       

PaulS108

Hi Simon,

Thank you for sharing your personal information with me.

I'm a relative newcomer to this course. I began Level 1 of the course last November, and I mistakenly thought at the time that I would progress much faster in getting a handle on the grammar and being able to construct and express new ideas from my head in German. I don't blame the Rocket German course - I just wasn't prepared for the amount of investment required to learn a new language! But I won't give up. My goal is to develop reasonable fluency in speech and sufficient knowledge of the language to tackle German literature in its original. I know that will take time, but hearing from people like you who have more experience and knowledge in the German language, allows me to put my own learning goals in a more realistic perspective.

I am a bi-lingual English/Hebrew speaker, with English as my mother tongue, but I have lived most of my life in Israel. My insistence in learning German stems from my interest in WWII history, in general, and the Nazi movement, in particular. The German language, for me, is an integral part of learning about the period of history that sparks my interest.

Thanks again for getting back to me. It makes this digital platform for language learning a bit more personal and enjoyable.

All the best to you,
Paul       

sfpugh

Thank you for sharing Paul
I assumed you were much further on with your German. I think Hammer is far too much information for level 1.
I used Collins easy earning German grammar at first.
I think one of the weaknesses with the on line courses in general is a lack of Grammar explanation. But not everyone wants to really understand it and they can get by with relatively little.

PaulS108

Hi Simon,

One final note: I think that my previous correspondence to you may have been misleading regarding my level in German. Although I began level 1 back in November, I am currently in the middle of level 2, and based on my learning pace, I expect to complete level 2 by the end of next month:))

I also use Collins as a dictionary reference in addition to a number of other apps on my iPhone. I took a cursory look at Hammer's, but I don't think that I need something quite so in-depth at this point of my learning. I may consider it more seriously in the future, because I am definitely a grammar nut. In any case, thanks for bringing that resource to my attention.

All the best,
Paul

RobertR34

Paul,

I have found "German Verbs and Essentials of Grammar" by Charles James (McGraw Hill) to be a great aid.  Very systematic yet thorough review in only 131 pages with great indexes in the back.  I also have the same series in French and Italian. I also find it amusing that the Italian version is 247 pages!  German grammar really is concise in comparison to the Romance languages.

PaulS108

Robert,
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out. I'm always keeping an eye out for good reference material.
Best, 
Paul

Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here .
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket German trial here .