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Are these sentences grammatically correct?

  1. Ich werde einen Brief an meinen Vater schreiben.

  2. Ich möchte einen Mantel meinem Bruder kaufen.

  3. Ich möchte einen Mantel für meinen Bruder kaufen.

and it would be very helpful if there are tips on combining accusative and dative cases in one sentence.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Ich werde einen Brief an meinen Vater schreiben.

Correct. You could also shorten it to Ich werde meinem Vater einen Brief schreiben.

Ich möchte einen Mantel meinem Bruder kaufen.

I'm not sure if this is grammatically correct, but it's awkward to the point of confusing a native speaker. You'd rearrange it to Ich möchte meinem Bruder einen Mantel kaufen or use the third example:

Ich möchte einen Mantel für meinen Bruder kaufen.

Hopefully somebody better versed in grammar knows or can reverse-engineer the actual rules.


By the way, you can take liberties with the word order. At least the following sentences are equivalents for the first example:

Ich werde einen Brief an meinen Vater schreiben.
An meinen Vater werde ich einen Brief schreiben.
Einen Brief werde ich an meinen Vater schreiben.
Ich werde meinem Vater einen Brief schreiben.
Meinem Vater werde ich einen Brief schreiben.
Einen Brief werde ich meinem Vater schreiben.

The first and fourth are the versions you're most likely to encounter "in the wild". I believe it is also possible to put the verb first, but even if the grammar were to allow it, these sound very awkward:

Schreiben werde ich einen Brief an meinen Vater.
Schreiben werde ich meinem Vater einen Brief.
Schreiben werde ich einen Brief an meinen Vater.

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For dative case in the first example we have to reverse the object order:

"Ich werde meinem Vater einen Brief schreiben."

I was taught that the Dat object proceeds the Acc object, unless the Acc object is a pronoun, then the Acc pronoun will proceed the Dat object. This is the best way for me to remember it, ( I haven't devised a mmemonic for it, lol)

"Ich möchte einen Mantel für meinen Bruder kaufen."

'Ein Mantel' needs to be in the Acc since again, it is the recipient of the action. (It's the object that's being purchased). In this sentence there actually is no Dat object because nothing is actually receiving the Acc object. "Mein Bruder" can't be in the Dat because we have the always Acc preposition 'für'.

I'm basing this off what I've been taught about German and if there are any native speakers out there who find mistakes in what I've said then please feel free to correct away! It only serves to expand my knowledge. :)

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+1 Very nicely explained (but its the same with an and für - thats why I deleted it :D –  Takkat Oct 12 '13 at 15:54
    
Yes, this native speaker would have known that (2) is wrong but would not have been able to cite a rule. But after the edit by @Takkat (which was good, because it remove a mistake) the answer does not correspond well to the question, maybe CreeperNation wants to rewrite part of it now? –  Carsten Schultz Oct 12 '13 at 16:17
    
@Takkat, the first sentence of the answer is now wrong. –  Carsten Schultz Oct 13 '13 at 19:23
    
Thanks @CarstenSchultz - I totally overlooked this. –  Takkat Oct 13 '13 at 19:36
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