"Wir geben das Buch einem Mann."

Translation:We are giving the book to a man.

October 6, 2015

94 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ACardAttack

Doesn't dative usually go before accusative? Shouldn't it be "Wir geben einem Mann das Buch"?

October 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/s33br0wnb0x

Yes. It is typically written as such; however, it makes much more sense when pronouns come into use i.e. the order is always determined by the direct object and not the indirect object e.g. Wir geben es ihm. Wir geben es einem Mann. Wir geben ihm das Buch.

Hope that helps.

November 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThomasNice

Exactly, but here there is no pronoun, yet the order is still akk then dat

April 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThomasNice

Correction: the order is always determined by the pronoun, not the direct object. In your example, "Wir geben ihm das Buch," "ihm" is an indirect object pronoun while "das Buch" is the direct object

April 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The.Mule

I think with German there's a lot more scope for rearranging stuff in sentences; it's why the pronouns and articles are so varied. For example, "The man eats the apple" can be written as "Den Apfel isst der Mann." The den/der articles should tell you that the sentence cannot be read as "the apple eats the man."

Edit: corrected per Rhotias.

February 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phidica

Incidentally, den and der are definite articles in this example, not pronouns as you and the preceding comments suggest. They would be pronouns if they were used on their own in lieu of objects, though, such as "Das im Schrank" (the thing in the cupboard)

You're correct though that the German case system allows extra meaning to be carried in the articles, so objects can be switched to different locations in the sentence with no ambiguity

February 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobCrownsSuck

Agree, but in another ex it demands daiv before akusativ

December 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin876054

I've seen this also. The pre-lesson demonstrates the flexibility of the sentence structure with even an example of the nominative coming after the verb as long as it remains next to the verb. Which I find interesting. But a different lesson stresses a preferred order where 1) with two nouns or two pronouns the dative should be first after the verb, or 2) with one noun and one pronoun the pronoun should come first regardless of case. These two lessons leave me a little confused. Is the preferred order only applied to sentences with pronouns? With flexibility for sentences with nouns?

July 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

Two nouns have a preferred order of Dative first, but the order is flexible and Dative can come last to stress new information which is evident here from the use of “einem” rather than “dem”. Two pronouns actually have Accusative before Dative, but a pronoun always comes before a noun.

July 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin876054

@ALLintolearning3 Yes, thank you for pointing out that for 2 pronouns the order is usually Accusative then Dative and not the reverse. After seeing this I did some googling to confirm and indeed you are correct. When I come across the other pre-lesson where I saw that (it was on the phone app) I will try to figure out how to report it if Duo has it incorrect.

July 23, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/an1k0
  • 1328

I think you are right. I think that the rule is if both objects are nouns first comes the dative case and then accusative, so the example should be: Wir geben einem Mann das Buch. When one of the object is noun and the other is pronoun - first comes the pronoun: Wir geben ihm das Buch. or Wir geben es einem Mann. And finally when both objects are pronouns first is accusative and then dative: Wir geben es ihm.

March 31, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

Yes, however, one can also put the new information last to stress it. “Das Buch” is a specific book that we already know about and “einem Mann” is someone that we have not talked about yet. If it were “dem Mann”, then it would come first, because we are talking about a specific man that had already been known.

July 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Delta1212

I believe that is really more of a pronoun thing.

October 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AVY70

But there is no pronoun used here. I wonder if it's the indefinite article, ein, here.

April 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

Yes, if the indefinite article is used with the indirect object (dative case) and not with the direct object (accusative case), then you can place the indirect object last if you wish. If the accusative has the indefinite article and the dative does not, then it will always come after the dative. Either pronoun will come before the noun.

http://deutschegrammatik20.de/wortposition/wortposition-dativ-akkusativ/

http://www.deutschakademie.de/online-deutschkurs/dativ-akkusativ-erklaerung

June 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Revenant

Vielen danke

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RichardGil10

That sequence certainly was drummed into my head in class!

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ricardoalvarenga

I think you give something to someone and not someone to something, right ?

January 31, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

Changing the word order doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. What matters is what case each noun is in. The noun conjugated as accusative is the thing being given, and the noun in dative is the person/thing that it's given to.

January 31, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sawsan555

can we say wir geben einem mann das buch?

October 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Delta1212

Yes.

October 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raizzzz

Is there any difference ?

November 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
Mod

    Emphasis, slightly. As I understand it, when read the sentences sound like:

    Wir geben das Buch einem Mann = "We give the book to a man"
    Wir geben einem Mann das Buch = "We give a man the book"

    [Source: 'German is Easy' blog]

    April 6, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/8Ivlg50M

    You understand correctly

    June 17, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeoSchribs

    'Wir geben einem Mann das Buch' sounds a bit unusually to me about like: "We give a man this (or that) book."

    September 5, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

    Wouldn't that be "Wir geben einem Mann dieses Buch." ?

    Still, I understand that the one with the indefinite article is preferred last since the specific item starting with the definite article must have already been referenced.

    June 27, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Djshill

    I was taught DAN PAD PIN: DAN Dative before Accusative with Nouns PAD Pronouns Accusative before Dative PIN Pronouns In front of Nouns

    July 16, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

    Not a hard and fast rule, but it'll work in general. For example, a noun that someone particularly wants to emphasize may be placed later, even if those guidelines dictate otherwise. For example, you can say "Ich gebe das Buch ihm" if you want to particularly stress that you're giving the book to him and not someone else.

    But, emphasis aside, nouns with "das" will usually come before ones with "ein," at the expense of those other rules. So "Ich gebe das Buch einem Mann" (accusative first) but "Ich gebe dem Mann ein Buch" (dative first).

    July 19, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dansksrk

    The rule I learned was: Both nouns, indirect object first. Both pronouns, direct object first. One noun, one pronoun, pronoun first.

    I have the idea from the discussion that this isn't hard and fast. I can't imagine Wir geben ihm es.

    March 27, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
    Mod

      If you're interested in a more flexible discussion of word order, check this article out: https://yourdailygerman.com/2015/01/15/german-word-order-explained/

      April 6, 2016

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CaseyBahr

      Interesting, but I think that discussion is way over the heads of most people at this point in the course. Just adds more confusion, IMHO. At some point, in any language, you are not digesting on a per-word basis but in whole sentences. In which case, word order becomes less important. If you get the word order wrong, yes, it sounds strange to people but only because they rarely hear that order. I know of what I speak because my wife is a non-native English speaker (Russian/Ukr. are her native languages) and she is always, for example, putting the "time" word (e.g. now, tomorrow, etc.) in the "wrong" place because she's borrowing from her native language. There is no confusion in what I understand, but it clearly sounds "foreign." Now her use of unreferenced pronouns, that's another thing ... :D

      May 1, 2019

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pr0genitor

      What's the difference between einen and einem

      July 19, 2017

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

      "Einen" is the masculine accusative form of "ein." It's the direct object, the noun that the verb action is actually happening to.

      "Einem" is the masculine or neuter form. It's the indirect object, which relates to the verb in some other way, in this case the receiver of the giving.

      Here's a useful conjugation chart for "ein" (it conjugates the same as the "mein" chart).

      July 19, 2017

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bellasibella

      Why do i understand We give the book a man ? I can't seem to understand all the grammatic rules, I read it as i see it in English, why doesn't simple translation work in German it has to always be a like a hard puzzle to put together the grammatic structure.

      September 19, 2017

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
      Mod

        English uses word order to make it clear, and can't be rearranged without changing the meaning. German uses modified endings on words, and hence can be rearranged without changing the meaning (only the emphasis). They are different languages, you know...

        "We give a man the book" = Wir geben das Buch einem Mann or Wir geben einem Mann das Buch

        "We give the book a man" = Wir geben dem Buch einen Mann or Wir geben einen Mann dem Buch

        November 2, 2017

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobCrownsSuck

        If you read the introduction pages of FSI public domain courses for diplomats etc it explains translation is never really exact. I don't think the DL approach works well for German grammar. Use another course to teach, DL to practice

        December 26, 2017

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rebecca2528

        I put that we are giving a man the book and got it wromg. While in a differe t order, the meaning is the same. Why did it mark me wromg?

        December 13, 2017

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

        Try reporting, but keep in mind that the word order places a bit more emphasis on the last one: "einem man" We can do that in English by saying "We are giving the book to a man." The meaning is the same, but there is slightly more emphasis on the indirect object with the prepositional phrase.

        Even in English I like to say "We are giving the man a book.", but I prefer to say "We are giving the book to a man." and this is preferred also in German. The definite article flags something as specific, possibly previously talked about and the indefinite article tends to be newer information which German prefers to put later.

        June 27, 2018

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tim724808

        Duo marked me correct for writing 'that book' in the sentence.

        June 10, 2018

        [deactivated user]

          I am bit confused. According to my German grammar book, when the both objects are nouns, the dative should precede the accusative. So I think, it should be written: "Wir geben einem Mann das Buch." I am incorrect?

          January 31, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          That guideline works a fair amount of the time, but it's not at all a hard-and-fast rule. Other properties can affect which object comes first as well.

          Definite objects (with "der," "dieser," etc.) tend to come before indefinite (with "ein," no article, etc.), which is the key here; I would say this tendency tends to trump dative-before-accusative. You'll probably also find that longer objects (with, e.g., more adjectives) tend to come after shorter ones, also despite case.

          January 31, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simple-minded

          Why can't I say 'We will'?

          May 17, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          That would be future while this is present tense.

          May 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David597830

          why is it not "Wir geben einem Mann das Buch?

          January 18, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          That could also possibly be correct, but note that the one with the indefinite article is usually after the one with the definite article.

          June 27, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langenth

          Why the heck is everybody talking about pronouns?? I can't see any pronouns here and the word order contradicts what I've read! Is there something I'm missing?

          December 14, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          Usually, the Dative noun comes before the Accusative noun, but “einem Mann” is clearly Dative case and German is flexible for this. You can put the newer information last. You are talking about a specific book that you probably already mentioned “the book” is not new information, but the new information is that we are giving the book to a man, someone new that we have not talked about yet.

          People are just saying that the rules are different for pronouns. You are right that it doesn’t apply to this sentence, except to say that Dative does not always come first.

          December 14, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piljo72

          So the accusative can come before the dative as long as there are no pronouns, correct?

          March 14, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          It also can if the accusative is a pronoun (in fact, it has to): "Wir geben es einem Mann." Or if both are pronouns: "Wir geben es ihm." But yes, if neither is a pronoun, the accusative might be first.

          March 14, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langenth

          But how about this?:

          As a rule the dative object comes before the accusative object, if none of these objects is a pronoun (things are a little more complicated if pronouns come into play)

          June 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          “As a rule” means “usually”

          June 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stephen83116

          As discussed in the thread, this should read "Wir geben einem Mann das Buch". Two nouns = indirect object first. I understand that it can be moved around for the purpose of emphasis, but Duolingo should accept both translations. It is marking me wrong for a text book answer just because it is trying to show that it can be written another way. Fix this thing, it is messing up my Cia...lol

          April 23, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          Take a screenshot if you have the correct articles with the correct nouns and report it.

          June 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langenth

          Would someone who knows explain the mystery? Here are the Tips and notes:

          As a rule the dative object comes before the accusative object, if none of these objects is a pronoun (things are a little more complicated if pronouns come into play)

          So why does this sentence contradict the rules?

          June 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          As a rule = usually, not always. So when you have “die Buch”, that is something that we probably already talked about, a specific book, but we are talking about “einem Mann” or “a man” someone new that we had not mentioned before — new information which can be put after the older information in German. So make sure that whichever order you put, the indefinite artcle is with “Mann” and the definite article is with “Buch”, but I think we need to report that this should be added to the tips and notes, for it is common to emphasize new information this way.

          June 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langenth

          Aha, okay, thank you. So when this happens, the word order priority goes to the definite nouns rather than to the mentioned rule..

          June 25, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LizzyCronin617

          how does the word order work?

          July 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          Usually the indirect object noun comes before the direct object noun, but it can come after when it is newer information to emphasize that. A form of ein or a indicates that this has not been talked about before.

          July 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris930725

          The normal speed recording clearly says "sie geben". I didn't feel the need to listen to the slow version so got it wrong. As said before, more care is needed with th recordings. Some even sound double tracked.

          July 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dansksrk

          I'm glad to read that someone else has the same problem I do with "sie" and "wir" at the beginning of a recording. I don't think that it is "clearly sie" but it is surely more like "sie" than "wir."

          July 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          It clearly says veer which is how wir is pronounced.

          July 18, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bayoubougre

          I feel like this should be clarified in the lesson which says "As a rule the dative object comes before the accusative object, if none of these objects is a pronoun" I understand the role of pronouns with the Dat/Akk but this example does not use pronouns.

          July 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          “As a rule” does not mean “always”. It means “usually.” They should add that indefinite articles such as “einem” are used with newer information which may be put last to stress the newer information.

          July 22, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ghaith415370

          Can i say( wir geben einem mann das buch)?

          May 23, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeoSchribs1

          Ja, "Wir geben einem Mann das Buch" ist auch richtig.

          May 24, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ghaith415370

          I typed ( we give the man a book) and it was marked as wrong!

          May 23, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          That's because it's a man and the book.

          May 23, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TroyDoby

          The audio on this is terrible. It sounds like "Sie geben das Buch einem Mann".

          June 4, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ginagillen

          What's wrong with we give the man a book

          June 4, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dansksrk

          In the German version, it's "a man" and "the book." That's what's wrong with "the man" and "a book" in an English translation.

          June 4, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TaMu93

          Why is this sentence correct but when I translated "They are giving beer to the men" as "Sie geben Bier den Männern" , it was marked as incorrect. Should I have reported the earlier one?

          June 9, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          "Sie geben den Männern Bier" would be a much better word order. Whenever you have a definite object (using "den," "das," etc.) and an indefinite object (with "ein-" or no article), the definite object will go first.

          June 9, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TaMu93

          Thanks, this is a much better explanation than some of the others that I read.

          June 10, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BZH_JJM

          Why does it mark "we give" wrong? It is the same as "we are giving" in English.

          August 1, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          "We give the book to a man" or "We give a man the book" should be fine. If you wrote one of those, you should report this as an error (but I'm pretty sure that Duo accepts these).

          If you wrote something else, there's probably another mistake in your sentence. Duo isn't good at giving sensible corrections, so if your sentence was wrong for some reason, the correction may have just had "are giving" instead of "give" for no good reason.

          August 1, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidOldro1

          We're giving a man the book is the same thing.

          October 2, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          Please report it as also correct.

          October 18, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sandy.Greg

          We give the book to Amy and should be accepted

          October 18, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          “Amy” ? No, but “We give the book to a man.” should be accepted as correct and it can be reported if it is not accepted. Was that a victim of auto-correct?

          October 18, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ricardoalvarenga

          Warum nicht; " Wir geben dem Buch einen Mann" ?

          January 30, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EdTyrone

          Yes, what -Copernicus- said is right. You would be giving a man to a book.

          It's confusing to wrap your head around these translations because:
          1) We English speakers never really understood our own grammar and sentence structures.
          2) German grammar and sentence structures are similar but different, and everything is called something else.

          "We give a book to the man.":
          Subject (Nominative) = We
          Verb (Verb) = give
          Direct Object (Accusative [-en]) (What is being "verbed") = the book
          Indirect Object (Dative [-em]) = the man

          HERE IS A GREAT LINK THAT HELPS EXPLAIN ALL OF THAT:
          https://www.thegermanproject.com/german-lessons/dative-case

          January 30, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          That would be "We are giving a man to the book" (i.e., the book is receiving a man). It matters which way you conjugate the nouns/articles.

          The accusative ending ("-en" in this case) is for the thing that's actually being given-- i.e., this would make the man the thing that we're giving. The dative ending ("-em" here) is for who's receiving the thing-- so in your translation, the book is receiving the man.

          January 30, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ricardoalvarenga

          Vielen Dank Copernicus !!

          January 31, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WilliamDan417938

          Once again Duo teaches bad grammar. Unless there is a pronoun the dative object comes before the accusative

          June 23, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          That may be what your German textbook says, but it's not entirely correct. Often if one object is definite (using "der" or "dieser" or the like) and the other is indefinite (using "ein" or no article), the definite object will come first, regardless of each one's case. Here "das Buch" is definite and "einem Mann" indefinite, so "das Buch" goes first.

          Also a longer object (with lots of adjectives or other modifiers) might come after a shorter one, regardless of case. The reality is not really as simple as the textbook rule of dative before accusative all the time.

          June 23, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WilliamDan417938

          Let's see who I find more authoritative here - every grammar book I have seen, every textbook I have used, my German teacher or on the other hand Duolingo and you. I think that I will stick with majority opinion.

          June 23, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          Beginner textbooks and classes won’t cover everything. http://canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Satz/Wortstellung/index.html

          June 23, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          I often find that language textbooks and teachers tend to oversimplify rules, often just to make it easier on the students. Word order is tricky and nuanced, so it's convenient for a book to just teach a simple rule that generally (but maybe not always) works so the learner can move on to more important things like vocabulary.

          German word order is pretty flexible, so sticking to dative first for nouns probably won't sound jarringly wrong to a listener and will almost certainly be understandable; it's just not always the best wording. So that word order is very convenient to teach, especially at a beginner level, and it works more often than not.

          If you read the comments on other sentences like this one, you'll find natives agreeing with sentences that aren't dative first, and if you read other stuff written in German, you'll find that it doesn't always follow dative first either.

          June 24, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/strawberrybush4

          If, in the world of duolingo, green bears can be transparent, why can't we give a book a man? Where'd the "to" come from?

          November 12, 2017

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          The English structure requires it. If the man is receiving the book, you can either say "give a man the book" or "give the book to a man" (the latter sounds better for this particular combination of "a/the").

          "Give the book a man" would mean that the book was receiving a man, which is not what the German sentence says.

          November 12, 2017

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobCrownsSuck

          A literal translation, the dative exercises are trying to teach what the case means. So to a man is einem mann. If you drop the preposition, relying on knowledge, gives a man bread, then you won't understand the point of dativ case.

          December 26, 2017

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Copernicus-

          Duo doesn't mind the wording without "to." A slightly different exercise would actually accept "give the man a book" as well as "give a book to the man" (though "give a man the book," as in this exercise, sounds a bit odd).

          "Give a book a man" is simply incorrect; it's giving the man to the book instead of giving the book to the man (and uses "a book" instead of "the book").

          December 26, 2017

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChrisABBaker

          One way I've seen it (on here, in fact) is that you can think of "einem" as being "to a" not just "a"

          October 25, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

          The Dative case shows on “einem Mann”, so we know a man is receiving the book.

          If you wanted to say “We give a book a man.” That would be a different sentence in German which would include the Accusative “einen Mann” and since you put “a book” as the receiver, that would be in Dative case “einem Buch”.

          December 14, 2018
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