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Form: Definite before indefinite

 
 
The use of the article can affect the position of a constituent in the Mittelfeld:
  • Nouns accompanied by the definite article tend to appear to the left;
  • Nouns accompanied by the indefinite article or by no article tend to appear to the right.

  Definite comes before indefinite  


Examples:

Er hat dem Kind Süßigkeiten gegeben.
definite indefinite

Er hat die Süßigkeiten einem Kind  gegeben.
definite indefinite

Er hat das Buch gestern  gekauft.
definite

Er hat gestern  ein Buch  gekauft.
indefinite

Not: Er hat ein Buch gestern gekauft.



When all constituents are definite or indefinite, other tendencies and rules apply. For example:

Er hat einem Kind Süßigkeiten gegeben.
dative obj. accusative obj. See: Dative object before accusative object
indefinite indefinite

Er hat dem Kind die Süßigkeiten  gegeben.
dative obj. accusative obj. See: Dative object before accusative object
definite definite

Wo sind die Bonbons?
Er hat die Süßigkeiten  dem Kind gegeben.
old new See: Old before new
definite definite



The tendency 'definite before indefinite' corresponds to the tendency 'old before new'. The definite article usually accompanies nouns that refer to something that is already known or has already been mentioned. The indefinite article accompanies nouns that refer to something new, something that has not been mentioned before (see Use of the definite article and Use of the indefinite article).







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