In ‘Schließlich helfen ihm seine Freunde.’=“Finally, his friends are helping him.”, the subject ‘seine Freunde’ comes after the indirect object ‘ihm’ mainly because it's heavier (that is, what linguists call its ‘lexical weight’ is greater): ‘seine Freunde’ is a full noun phrase with four syllables, while ‘ihm’ is just a pronoun with a single syllable. The subject comes before the indirect object If you balance the weights by pronominalizing ‘seine Freunde’: ‘Schließlich helfen sie ihm.’=“Finally, they're helping help him.”. The subject would ordinarily also come before the indirect object if you expand ‘ihm’ into a noun phrase at least as heavy: ‘Schließlich helfen seine Freunde ihrem Vater.’=“Finally, his friends are helping her father.”
A secondary consideration is the distinction between what linguists call topic versus focus, or old versus new information. For example, if after only being helped by strangers (the old information), his friends have finally stepped in (the new information), then you'd say ‘Schließlich helfen ihm seine Freunde.’ or ‘Schließlich helfen ihrem Vater seine Freunde.’ in German; but in English, where there's no case system to free up word order, you'd have to switch to the passive “Finally, he's being helped by his friends.” or “Finally, her father is being helped by his friends.” In contrast, if after helping everyone else, his friends finally turn to help HIM, you'd say ‘Schließlich helfen seine Freunde IHM.’, heavily stressing the last word to make it heavy enough to go after a noun phrase. But if both the subject and indirect object are pronouns, the order is fixed. Even with heavy stress on the last word, *‘Schließlich helfen ihm SIE.’ is unacceptable in German.
I've just read one of the most exquisite linguistic explanations on Duo. Thanks, man!
Because the verb has to come second. If you put something else ("finally") instead of the subject to the first place, the subject will have to come after the verb.
Right, but why at the end, instead of immediately after the verb per the usual inverted word order rule?
Oh... I had to re-read the whole sentence to get what you mean. I would not even think of "Schließlich helfen seine Freunde ihm", it looks too odd even to my non-expert view. I don't know the rule, sorry.
I'm going to assume it has to do with the dative pronoun being used. Man würde sagen: "Schließlich finde ich meine Schlüssel," nicht wahr? Edit: Although, "Eigentlich geht es mir gut," so I guess if there are two pronouns, then nominative beats dative. Off to check some references!
I don't think it has to do with cases, it is rather nouns and pronouns. "Shließlich finden ihn seine Freunde", huh? Accusative. "Shließlich findet er seine Freunde" - the pronoun subject goes before the direct object.
"schließlich" could be also translated (with a different meaning) as "after all"
"Schließlich" can also be translated as "lastly" in the "at the end of the day" sense of the English idiom.
I remember we used 'zuletzt' earlier for 'at last'. Could someone explain the difference between it and 'schliesslich'?
See my comment.
Also - now that I think about it you could see it this way:
Schlieslich - at last Endlich - finally
But mostly, you'll have to go by the context of the story in which this sentence stands.
You wouldn't say that unless you heavily stressed the "ihm" at the end. See AndreasWitnstein's excellent explanation above.
This may have already been partially answered, but why is 'ihm', the dative form, used here instead of 'ihn', the accusative, since 'he' is being acted upon?
‘helfen’ is a dative verb. It doesn't act directly on its object, but does something for it.