2

Can I answer saying:

Um Mitternacht gehe ich ins Bett.

OR

Ich gehe um Mitternacht ins Bett

Which one is more idiomatic (more correct)

I know that time have to precede ins Bett

2

Ich gehe um Mitternacht ins Bett

is correct.

The answer

Um Mitternacht gehe ich ins Bett.

is also correct, but it has a little harsh touch.

As an example: If you sit in a bar and somebody mention, that there is a midnight soup and everybody can get it, then you could react with a Um Mitternacht gehe ich ins Bett. With this reaction you show your incomprehension about doing anything else then sleeping at this time.

An Aber um Mitternacht gehe ich ins Bett is a neutral information (Like "Sorry for this, I can't take part, that's my timeto go to sleep").

But as always, it really depends on the situation. With a grin on your lips it can also be an ironic remark.

  • 3
    ‘A harsh touch’ doesn’t exactly describe it imho. – Jan Dec 6 '15 at 0:23
  • 1
    @Jan My first impression was a situation with a pikierte Antwort, but I found no fitting English expression for it. – knut Dec 6 '15 at 19:19
  • I would rather say that it puts a lot of stress on the time information. – Burki Dec 8 '15 at 8:58
2

Word order in German is essentially free if the verb is in second position of main clauses. We have three moveable fragments thus six possibilities:

Ich gehe um Mitternacht ins Bett. (1)
Ich gehe ins Bett um Mitternacht. (4)
Um Mitternacht gehe ich ins Bett. (2)
Um Mitternacht gehe ins Bett ich. (8)
Ins Bett gehe ich um Mitternacht. (2)
Ins Bett gehe um Mitternacht ich. (9)

They differ only in the amount of tension included. The larger the number in brackets the higher I perceived the tension and thus the more unusual the sentence seems. More tension is often associated with emphasis: The third sentence emphasises midnight while the fifth emphasises going to bed.

Putting the subject last, especially if it is ich, is possible but highly unusual if you’re not Yoda thus the high tensions of four and six. The second sentence emphasises the going to bed bit more than the midnight bit but not strongly.

  • In my native guts feeling ich and gehe always need to be together and 8 and 9 are wrong. – Iris Dec 8 '15 at 8:43
  • 2
    Ins Bett um Mitternacht ich gehe. (Yoda) – Martin - マーチン Dec 8 '15 at 10:57
  • @Iris In before Emanuel comes in and says ‘no, not technically wrong, only extremely highly unusual’ ;) – Jan Dec 8 '15 at 13:09
  • @Martin, that still sound strange, but more correct as 8+9. – Iris Dec 8 '15 at 13:11
  • It is supposed to sound strange because the emphasis is on whatever you do and not that you are doing it. I suppose there will be a few questions on the movie and SciFi parts of the network about it. @iris – Martin - マーチン Dec 8 '15 at 13:15
1

Both are correct, but in this context the second is a little more correct, because the first answer is related to the fact and the second to the time. You can use both, but because he asks for the hour, the second answer is more correct.

But in coll. use you can just tell the time, i.e. "Um Mitternacht".

  • Because the first answer is related to the fact and the second to the time. You can use both, but because he asks for the hour, the second answer is more correct. – Reese Dec 6 '15 at 2:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.