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.
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.
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
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?
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 personal pronouns actually have Accusative before Dative, but a pronoun always comes before a noun.
Be careful though, because no rules are absolute.
@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.
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.
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.
It's related to one tenet within information theory--the notion that in general, old information is presented before new information. Because the old information is what you already know, and makes it easier to comprehend incoming new information. This also accounts for why pronouns tend to precede full noun phrases.
Yes, that order works fine and is accepted for many other sentences. However the particular phrasing "giving a [something] the [something]" sounds very odd to me. If it were "a/a" or "the/the" or "the/a" it would be fine, but the phrasing just doesn't work so well with this combination of articles.
I agree, like in English as if "we give a man that book" Also to my English ears, "we give a man the book" sounds rather odd out of context. Whereas, "we give the book to a man" sounds more the neutral position. As has already been said, German is like English in this respect, the new information (which is indefinite, 'a' or' ein') is emphasised by putting it at the end. These things are rather subtle, but consider this in English: Instead of giving the book to a woman, why don't we give the book to a man (the surprise bit at the end!) "why don't we give a man the book" really wouldn't have the same impact and sounds awkward.
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).
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/
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
"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).
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?
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.
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
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.
That could also possibly be correct, but note that the one with the indefinite article is usually after the one with the definite article. https://yourdailygerman.com/2015/01/15/german-word-order-explained/
"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.
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.
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.
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:
The sentence above is "We give the book to a man."
The person you are answering has put German that would be translated to "We give a man to the book." as Copernicus states directly below.
Yet somehow you switched the articles to "We give a book to the man." and you put it in bold which may confuse others.
Again, the Indirect Object should be "a man" but you put the wrong article in bold. Please edit this.
Also, even your first sentence put two indefinite articles which is not what Copernicus said, so it should be " We give a man to the book."
The link will be helpful to many.
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
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?
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.
In English “We give a man the book.” = “We give the book to a man.”, but in both the English and the German having “a man” last puts a bit more emphasis on it. In German, this is done for new information: “the book” is a specific book that we probably already talked about. Now we are not giving it to someone that we have already talked about. “A man” could be anyone. If we were giving it to “the man”, we would probably not switch the order.
There is no difference in German between how "we give" and "we are giving" are expressed. There is no present continuous tense separate from the simple present in German. It is left to context to determine which is meant by "wir geben." There is no context in the exercises, so it is impossible to know which interpretation to give to "wir geben."
When Duolingo asks you to translate "wir geben," it accepts either "we give" or "we are giving."
Re object order. Why bring in exceptions to the general rule before the rule is learned?
Further to my own observations (but I am not sure), it seems that since the accusative is with a definite article, while the dative is with an indefinite article, the accusative could come first. If both nouns are preceded by definite (or indefinite) articles, the dative shouls come first. If both are pronous, then accusative come first. If the accusative is a pronoun while the dative is a noun, then also accusative comes first? Am I get it write? Kindly correct me if I am mistaken.
This is confusing. The theory says dative before accusative and then this example is the opposite. I think that, like other languages, position can be changed to highlight concepts, but being the first lessons about dative, would it be better to stick to the common practice?
Each and every noun is grammatically either masculine, feminine or neutral and you just need to memorize the definite article with the noun as part of its spelling to remember each noun's gender.
der Mann, die Frau, das Buch, die is also used for all the plural nouns in Nominative case
ein Mann, eine Frau, ein Buch, ein has no plural (Thank you Copernicus) but the negative keine is also used for all the plurals in Nominative case
Just wait, " das Mädchen" is neutral too.
Ah here is the article that I thought would be useful: https://www.thoughtco.com/masculine-feminine-or-nueter-in-german-4068442
You can also look up a word in a dictionary to find its gender: https://dictionary.reverso.net/english-german/apple You will see the m after the word showing that it is masculine, other words may have f for feminine or nt for neutral. You will also see examples of use in sentences, including "Der Apfel..."
That would work in English in which the most important thing comes first, but in German the most important thing comes last, especially new information such as a noun introduced with an indefinite article. You could create a sentence such as "Der Katze geben wir das Buch." about a cat we already know.
It works in German as well. I don't know of any other reason to front an object in German other than to emphasize its importance — either for contrast, or to introduce it as something new, or both.
Mir ist kalt. I am cold. (It is cold to me.)
Einem Mann haben wir gesagt, dass er ein Loch in der Hose hätte. Fronted because what was previously said was said to a woman. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Der_P%C3%BCtt_die_Kolonie_und_das_Bier_Gesch/PK_cBAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22einem+Mann+haben+wir%22&pg=PA82&printsec=frontcover
Der Hund hat eine Frau gebissen?
Nein! Einen Mann hat der Hund gebissen.
German 101, to demonstrate that German sorts out what is subject and object through case forms. Fronted as new information to the listener, and to contrast it with the listener's understanding.
When you put something before the verb other than the subject, it does get emphasis just because it is not in its usual place, but I maintain that the most important parts of the sentence go towards the end of the sentence in German. When the Dative comes after the Accusative, that creates quite a bit of emphasis. This is unlike English in which "I give a cat the book." = "I give the book to the cat."
https://yourdailygerman.com/german-word-order-explained/ (Part 2, after the basics)
Sorry, this was not about who knows more, but about word order.
In the end, your version is better, because I forgot that the feminine Dative looks just like the Genitive and putting the Dative after the Accusative in that case could be confused with "a cat's book" rather than "the book to a cat" !
My cat would really not like me to give her book away and, of course, she thinks that whatever I have is hers.
There have been previous examples where it was counted wrong if I did not put the dative before the accusative, so I started to think that was rule. Now this example has the dative at the end. Is there some kind of exception to the rule going on here? I am positive there was one like "Sie gibt einer Frau einen Apfel" and it did not let me put einen Apfel before einer Frau.
"Wir geben einem Mann das Buch" is also correct.
it was counted wrong if I did not put the dative before the accusative, so I started to think that was rule.
I'd say it's more of a tendency of German, and a decent guideline, to put the dative object first. But there are plenty of places where the accusative object comes first, so I'd be hesitant to call it a rule.
- If one object is a pronoun, it goes first, regardless of case. (If both are pronouns, the accusative goes first)
- For nouns, dative ones generally come before accusative ones
- Definite objects (using "der" or "dieser" or the like) often come before indefinite ones (using no article or an article like "ein")
If those last two guidelines clash, as they do here, usually you can use either order ("... einem Buch das Mann" to put the dative object first, or "... das Buch einem Mann" to put the definite one first). Hence the order in Duo's sentence, though either order is fine.
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.
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").
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”.
Well, quite, the Duolingo world has cats giving and showing women skirts! Think of these as excercises like twiddles on the piano which are used to strengthen your fingers and help you do gymnastics on the keyboard. You are meant to get them wrong to start with, to show your areas of development but, with practice, they become second nature. They allow you to play artistically the beautiful sounds in the song of your new language.
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.
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.
Thanks for your sensible and patient words, Copernicus. Learning language is confusing. Don't people remember learning their first language when young? And English spelling and pronounciation, please! German is a lovely language to learn and far more logical than French, which is beautiful in its own idiomatic way. My non-nonsense Glaswegian French teacher at school always answered tricky "Why does French do this..." questions with, "Because 60 million French people say so!"
Beginner textbooks and classes won’t cover everything. http://canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Satz/Wortstellung/index.html