1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Schließlich helfen ihm seine…

"Schließlich helfen ihm seine Freunde."

Translation:Finally his friends help him.

April 20, 2013

35 Comments


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

Why does the subject come at the end in this sentence?


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

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.


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

Wow. Thanks for this! I wholeheartedly declare it "insight of the month"


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

I've just read one of the most exquisite linguistic explanations on Duo. Thanks, man!


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

I'm not a linguist, somebody needs to simplify this for me


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

If I may give it a shot: 1) Short pronouns like ihm, sie, uns, sich etc tend to go right next to the verb, otherwise they'd feel lost and the sentence just sounds off (same way people don't really say "I told the neighbor of my teacher's daughter it") 2) When the first rule doesn't exclude the possibility, the "new" information that you want to convey with the sentence goes to the end. ("Schließlich helfen dem Mann die Kinder" - finally it is the kids who help the man "Schließlich helfen die Kinder dem Mann" - finally it is the man that the kids help) I hope I got the idea right.


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

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.


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

Right, but why at the end, instead of immediately after the verb per the usual inverted word order rule?


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

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.


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

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!


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

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.


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

I think because ihm is in dative and it comes before


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bf2010
  • 2372

"schließlich" could be also translated (with a different meaning) as "after all"


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

what is wrong with :

finally his friends are helping him


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

Seems fine to me. Did you report it?


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

Nothing's wrong with it. Please report it.


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

it's accepted now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tom.wald

"Schließlich" can also be translated as "lastly" in the "at the end of the day" sense of the English idiom.


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

I remember we used 'zuletzt' earlier for 'at last'. Could someone explain the difference between it and 'schliesslich'?


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

What is the difference between schließlich and endlich?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tom.wald

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.

Wald


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DefZeppelin72

I wish duo reverted back to the old way before the update. After i would get something incorrect(or even correct for that matter) you could tap the speaker button and hear it again. For some reason now after u do the exercise the speaker graphic doesn't work


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

Does ''Schließlich helfen seine Freunde ihm'' work??


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

You wouldn't say that unless you heavily stressed the "ihm" at the end. See AndreasWitnstein's excellent explanation above.


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

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?


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

‘helfen’ is a dative verb. It doesn't act directly on its object, but does something for it.


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

Oh I see, thank you!


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

Could it be: "Schließlich helfen seind Freunde ihm."?


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

Why is the subject last here?


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

Seine Freunde hilfen ihm Schließlich hilfen seine Freunde ihm

Or

Ihm hilfen seine Freunde Schließlich hilfen ihm seine Freunde

I hope this helps understand the word order.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/requin230

It is "helfen" though not "hilfen"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jrgen792736

Der Satz hat verschiedene Bedeutungen. 1. Am Ende helfen seine Freunde 2.Er ist nicht allein. Schließlich helfen ihm seine Freunde.(schließlich heißt hier - immerhin)

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.