Translation:He can apply for a visa at the embassy in Amsterdam.
'aanvragen' at the end of the sentence is correct, but because "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" is so long it's more common to put "aanvragen" in the front.
However, "Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade aanvragen" or "Hij kan een visum in Amsterdam aanvragen" are perfect sentences.
What? So there is not a strict rule about word order? "hmm, this sentence became too long lets put the verb in the middle..."
I've been doing German lessons too, i think i haven't seen something similar like this. (Bringing up German to the topic because both languages are similar when it comes to the sentence structure)
"Bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" is what we call in Dutch a "Bijwoordelijke bepaling van plaats" (Adverbial phrase of place).
An adverbial phrase is something you add to the main sentence. As long as the subject + conjugated verb (Hij + kan) stay together, it doesn't really matter where you put this adverbial.
So all of the following sentences are gramatically correct in Dutch: 1. Bij de ambassade in Amsterdam kan hij een visum aanvragen. 2. Hij kan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam een visum aanvragen. 3. Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aanvragen. 4. Hij kan een visum aanvragen bij de ambassade in Amsterdam.
In sentence 1 you have to switch SV to VS, because there's another part of the sentence (the adverbial) before the subject (hij).
As a native speaker sentence 4 sounds the best, because the object (een visum aanvragen) stays together and the adverbial is at the end as extra information.
Following a general European trend, all Germanic languages are in the process of moving from SOV word order to SVO. The V2 word order of Dutch and German is just an intermediate stage. Dutch is moving a bit faster in this direction than German, but hasn't progressed as far as English yet. So it's natural to find a few details in word order where Dutch is more English-like than German-like.
In this particular case, the same worder is actually possible in my native German; it's just quite unusual and typically a sign that the speaker didn't think the sentence through completely before beginning to speak. This is why you are explicitly not learning it in a German course. You can say "Er kann ein Visum beantragen bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam". It's just by no means a natural word order yet. Whether you call it grammatical says more about your concept of grammar than about the language. The difference is that in Dutch it's unquestionably grammatical and (I believe) it's good style.
As to why - "bij de ambassade" is a longish adverbial. These tend to be added as afterthoughts in separate, elliptic sentences: "Er kann ein Visum beantragen. Bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam." (This in turn is licensed by the possibility of the following kind of dialogue: "Er kann ein Visum beantragen. - Wo? - Bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam.") It's only a small step of the type typical for language change to join the two sentences into one.
Yes and no.
Yes: V2 basically means that all the verb group except for one word - the finite (= conjugated) verb - comes at the end of the main clause. If the verb group is a conjugated form of aanvragen kunnen, the finite verb is a conjugated form of kunnen, and the remainder of the verb group that is moved to the end of the main clause consists just of the infinitive aanvragen.
No: There are two good explanations why the adverbial clause bij de ambassade in Amsterdam comes (or just: can come) after aanvragen. I am not sure which of them is the correct one, and it's quite possible that both of them are correct and there are simply two equally good ways to analyse this sentence.
- Maybe one can consider the adverbial clause as part of the verb group. In this interpretation, the complete verb group is aanvragen kunnen bij de ambassade in Amsterdam, and what remains after removing kunnen (which turns into the finite verb) is what is moved to the end of the main clause.
- Maybe adverbials - which are not among the most basic parts of speech (such as subject, verb group, object) of which we are generally thinking when talking about the most fundamental word order rules such as V2 - can be placed so freely that they can appear even after the verb group. After all, they have some similarity to subordinate clauses, and of course these can appear after the main clause.
In general, Dutch seems to be moving rather quickly from a more conservative (German-like) word order to one that is more English-like. The word order in this sentence would sound a bit inelegant or even unnatural in my native German but seems to be normal in Dutch. So I guess that its acceptability is at least in part due to relatively recent changes in Dutch.
Thank you very much. This is very interesting. I actually thought that the Dutch grammatical rules were as strict as the German ones. (In German I am taught to put the infinite verb at the end "no matter what".) It is very interesting to see that this may sometimes not always be the case in Dutch.
I think the word order rules of both languages are probably similarly strict. But since those of Dutch are changing more quickly, they are slightly different. It takes a long time for the old rules to become absolutely wrong. Therefore, to the somewhat limited extent that speaking Dutch with a German word order is not correct, I think it's mostly just a bit unidiomatic - not as wrong as using Shakespeare's word order in ordinary English speech today, for example.
Both variants are actually correct both in Dutch and in my native German. The difference is only in the relative frequency with which they are used. As usual, Dutch is more progressive. This is because all Germanic languages are moving to SVO word order. English has just been doing the conversion very quickly and German is very slow. Dutch has also been very fast since it branched off German.
In both languages it depends on how you parse the sentence. What does "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" provide details to?
- It refers to the verb aanvragen. Result: "Hij vraagt een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aan." (The separated preposition is part of the verb phrase, which comes at the end of the sentence.)
- It refers to the entire sentence "Hij vraagt een visum aan" and therefore comes after it. Result: "Hij vraagt een visum aan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam."
As an intermediate step between the old rule (remainder of the verb phrase comes last) and whatever is the new rule that better fits SVO word order, interpretation 2 is recently becoming more popular in German than it used to be, though interpretation 1 is still the default. Dutch is more progressive, so interpretation 2 is already more popular, even though interpretation 1 is still possible. Sooner or later, Dutch speakers will stop using variant 1 and will use variant 2 exclusively even if in the few cases when it's clear that "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" (or the corresponding phrase) unambiguously refers to the verb only.
I was sort of disappointed by your answer in the beginning, as I had been hoping for a more definite one in the line of "the first" or "the second", but then I found out that all that is far more than very interesting. What you call "referring to" or "providing details to" I am more at ease calling "focusing on" or "stressing", but that's just a matter of tastes I guess. Your explanation is wonderfully clear. I would like to hear those two sentences spoken, in order to find out whether there is a vocal stress on one part of the one and of the other, I fancy something like "Hij vraagt een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aan" and "Hij vraagt een visum aan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam." In some languages the word order appears to be more free, but it is just a delusion, I think, for the order you choose turns out most of times stressing one item or another.
Duo is giving false information. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands but not the Seat of Government or the headquarters of the various diplomatic missions. The embassies are in The Hague not Amsterdam. However, if you wanted a visa you would probably go to the General Consulate which you might find in Amsterdam.