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Position of the object in the Mittelfeld

 
 
Objects in the Mittelfeld tent to be arranged in a specific order. This basic word order is different according to whether the objects are noun phrases or pronouns.

Object = noun phrases


  Subject 

 >   Dative object   >   Accusative object   >   Genitive object
 Prepositional object  

Objects = pronouns
(only personal pronouns ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie, reflexive pronoun sich, indefinite pronoun man):


  Subject 

 >   Accusative object   >   Dative object   >   Genitive object
 Prepositional object  

The objects come after the subject. Exceptions, see Position of the subject and Pronoun before noun.

Usually, a sentence does not contain more than one or two objects. For this reason we treat the objects separately or in groups of two:

Dative object and accusative object
Accusative object and accusative object 
Genitive object
Prepositional object


Dative object and accusative object

When both the dative object and the accusative object are noun phrases, the dative object tends to come before the accusative object:


  Noun phrases: Dative object before accusative object  


Examples:

Die Großmutter hat ihrem Enkel das Album geschenkt.
dative obj. accusative obj.

Hat sie ihrem Freund  die Geschichte erzählt? 
dative obj. accusative obj.

...weil die Tochter den Eltern das Kind verheimlicht hatte.
dative obj. accusative obj.

Variations:

The tendency 'dative object before accusative object' is weak. It is often overruled by other tendencies. For example:

Die Großmutter hat  das Album dem Enkel  geschenkt.
old new See Old before new
accusative obj. dative obj.

Hat sie die Geschichte  einem Freund  erzählt?
definite indefinite See Definite before indefinite
accusative obj. dative obj.

The tendency 'dative object before accusative object' is not observed at all when the accusative object is a pronoun:

...weil die Tochter es den Eltern  verheimlicht hatte.
pronoun noun phrase See Pronoun before noun
accusative obj. dative obj.

Der Schwiegersohn hat sich ihren Eltern  vorgestellt.
pronoun noun phrase See Pronoun before noun
accusative obj. dative obj.

Objects = pronouns:

When both the dative object and the accusative object are pronouns, the accusative object tends to come before the dative object:


  Pronouns: Accusative object before dative object  


Die Großmutter hat es mir geschenkt.
accusative obj. dative obj.

Hat sie sie ihm erzählt? 
accusative obj.. dative obj.

Er hat sich ihnen vorgestellt.
accusative obj.. dative obj.

This tendency is very strong. Variations are very rare.


Accusative object and accusative object

When the Mittelfeld contains two accusative objects, an animate object tends to come before an inanimate object. See Animate before inanimate:

Seine Unfähigkeit hat den Angestellten die Stelle gekostet.
animate inanimate
accusative obj. accusative obj.

Die Schulen sollten die Kinder gutes Benehmen lehren.
animate inanimate
accusative obj. accusative obj.


Genitive object

The genitive object tends to come last in the Mittelfeld. It is placed after the subject and the accusative object. It does not co-occur with other objects.


  The genitive object comes last  


Examples:

Am Tag darauf klagte  der Staatsanwalt  die beiden Soldaten des Mordes  an.
subject accusative obj. genitive obj.

Warum hat  dich die Nachbarin  des Diebstahls  bezichtigt?
accusative obj. subject genitive obj.

Warum hat  dich die Nachbarin  dessen bezichtigt?
accusative obj. subject genitive obj.

The genitive object is also placed after the adverbial(s):

Man hat gestern in ganz Deutschland der Toten  gedacht.
adverbial adverbial genitive obj.

Exception:

When the genitive object is a pronoun, it can also be placed before the adverbial(s):

Man hat ihrer gestern in ganz Deutschland gedacht.
genitive obj.  adverbial adverbial

Also: Man hat gestern in ganz Deutschland ihrer gedacht.


Prepositional object

The prepositional object tends to come last in the Mittelfeld. It is placed after the subject, the dative object and the accusative object. It does not co-occur with a genitive object.


  The prepositional object comes last  


Examples:


Dieses Jahr besteht das Examen aus drei Teilen .
subject prepositional obj.

Hast du den Brief an mich adressiert?
subject accusative obj.  prepositional obj.

Ihr solltet eurer Kollegin zur Geburt ihrer Tochter  gratulieren.
dative obj. prepositional obj.

The prepositional object comes also after the adverbial(s):

Viele haben gestern  in Berlin friedlich  gegen die Reform  demonstriert.
adverbial adverbial adverbial prepositional obj.

The position of the prepositional object can be occupied by a pronominal adverb. The same word order principles apply:

Ihr solltet eurer Kollegin dazu gratulieren.
dative obj. prepositional obj.

Viele haben gestern  in Berlin friedlich  dagegen demonstriert.
adverbial adverbial adverbial prepositional obj.







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