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When learning German, you usually get the whole TeKaMoLo thing drilled into your subconsciousness. My German friend claims the following is a very natural word order:

Warum gibt es hier immer so viele Studenten?

But place (hier) comes before time (immer). Can anybody tell me why? I tried to think of other contexts in which 'geben' is used in this way and it seem that

  • a) it often breaks the TeKaMoLo rule, and

  • b) the direct object often comes at the end as if it were part of the verbal idea.

Explanations and other examples would be much appreciated.

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8  
Just for those who don't know the mnemonic: Te Ka Mo Lo is a way of remembering the word order in German. It stands for "Temporal (when), Causal (why), Modal (how), and Location (where)" –  splattne Mar 2 '13 at 10:06

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I wouldn't trust this TeKaMoLo rule too much. It is often "wrong". If anything, it is good advice but I can write down pages and pages and pages of examples where it does not apply. So it is not a rule that is broken. It is a "most likely" scenario.

Generally, German word order follows this rule: "The more relevant the later"

You can replace immer with pretty much any time indication without changing word order.

Warum gibt es hier um 3 so viele Studenten.

Warum gibt es hier morgens so viele Studenten. ...

The point is, or at least we can look at it that way, that hier isn't a very interesting indication of location. So naturally it comes before time. But even if you fill in other locations like "am Alexander Platz" still time sounds totally fine after it. So, I'd say, for es geben both time and place are equally relevant and hence the order can vary... and there are many many more of those verbs.

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Yes! The "more relevant, the later" rule seems to be the crux of the whole verbal idea thing. Examples following this rule but breaking the TeKaMoLo-"rule" would provide great answers to this question. –  Brian Mar 2 '13 at 21:53

It is important to note that the emphasis changes with the word order:

In spoken German you can emphasise "hier" (though this sounds awkward) or "immer", in written language the emphasis is on "immer":

Warum sind hier immer so viele Studenten?
(Why are there always so many students here?)

If you reverse the word order the emphasis is always on "hier":

Warum sind immer hier so viele Studenten?
Warum sind immer so viele Studenten hier?
(Why do so many students gather particularly in this place?)

Please note:

  • "Hier gibt es viele Studenten." = There are many students in this town (though we cannot see even one of them at the moment).
  • "Hier sind viele Studenten." = There are many students present in this place (where we are now).
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It's probably not "geben" which breaks the rule in this example, but "hier immer". If you look up "hier" at wortschatz.uni-leipzig.de, you'll see, that "immer" is a significant right neighbour of "hier". wortschatz.uni-leipzig.de is based on online publications, so the register of language is rather formal than informal.

So, if "hier" and "immer" occur together in one sentence, it's mostly in the order "hier immer".

I also guess that it's partially idiomatic.

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Warum gibt es immer so viele Studenten hier? means perfectly the same and complies with the rule. –  chaero Mar 2 '13 at 17:44
    
It does, but is not used as often. –  Toscho Mar 4 '13 at 17:45

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