Is there any rule for organizing the adverbs and objects in a German sentence? I know the rule that says that the order of the adverbs should be: Time–causal–modal–place. What I do not know is if there is any rule for combining the position of the adverbs with that of the objects. Below I leave an example to see if that order would be grammatically correct.

Ich schenke meinem Bruder (DAT) morgen (TE) wegen seines Geburtstags (KA) mit großer Begeisterung (MO) das blaue Hemd (Ak) im Park(LO).

I would appreciate if you could also offer some other relevant examples.

  • You could start this way: "Morgen schenke ich meinem Bruder... etc" which I feel would be more natural
    – Beta
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 7:38
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    This is a difficult question. There's no fix rule. There are some tendencies. Everything's different when you replace a noun with a pronoun, or even both. Or when you make one of them indefinite. Or both. — I didn't find any reliable source that covers that topic that thoroughly, and although German is said to have long, complex sentence, we rarely add two objects and four adverbs into a sentence. And even if we did, we most likely apply emphasis; and there's context which will make us change word order. — I have been trying to write an answer for almost an hour. I'm giving up now.
    – Em1
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 7:39
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    For example, this sentence sounds completely fine to me: "Ich werde morgen im Park meinem Bruder wegen seines Geburtstags das blaue Hemd mit großer Begeisterung schenken." And this sentence is "TE-LO-DAT-KA-AKK-MO". So, it breaks all these "rules".
    – Em1
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 7:50
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    Agreed this is a non-practical sentence. And trying to apply "soft" standard rules to non-standard objects is a bit impractical as well. If you stuff so many adverbials into a sentence, you will most likely have to apply some some emphasis somewhere.
    – tofro
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 11:06
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    @Em1 , I do know that the elements of the sentence change of position depending on the emphasis is wanted to be made. However, I have found in some resources that there are some strong tendencies which can be taken as guidelines in organizing adverbs and objects within a sentence. I attach the two websites where I have found these guidelines : grammatiktraining.de/satzbau/satzbau-erklaerung.html
    – Lalo
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


Rule 6: There is no rule 6!

I’ll admit that it is slightly tongue-in-cheek but the underlying statement holds true. Apart from having the finite verb in second position in main clauses and any infinitives or separable particles in last position, there is no fixed rule as to which fragment of a sentence should be where. All that we have are varying degrees of strain from almost unstrained to very strained, the latter being associated with extreme emphasis or ‘being wrong’.

There are a few minor rules. The shorter a fragment is, the more likely it is to find an unstrained position at the beginning of a sentence (‘short before long’). If a fragment is known from former parts of the speech or easily inferred, it is also likely to be closer to the beginning (‘theme before rheme’). Thus, pronouns tend to be at an earlier position than the nouns they replace.


Ich schlage nachher{TE} mit dem Hammer{MO} zur Beruhigung{KA} den Boxsack{Akk} in meinem Zimmer.{LO}

In zwei Minuten{TE} schlage ich ihn{Akk} dazu{KA} mit dem Hammer.{MO}

Damit{MO} schlage ich ihn{Akk} nachher{TE} in meinem Zimmer{LO} zur Beruhigung.{KA}

These are just three examples. I have five moveable fragments so I can theoretically give 5! = 120 versions of the sentence of which some are better and some are emphasised and some seem too strained. In theory, all 120 are valid but there will likely be a certain number of combinations that a German won’t use.

Check out this answer for a more extensive example with less moveable fragments (but all possible positionings).


Your sentence is grammatically correct. It is an invalid sentence though.

When exploring or analyzing a language the only source to take from is historical texts (which is a huge source by the way).

You can therefore read a dozen of books and look for the used phrase order. But constructing fantasy sentences that have never been said and that won't ever be said is the wrong way –– as you won't find practical solutions.

And your sentence is such a candidate.

As Em1 has pointed out the German sentence structure is a freakingly complex topic. The linguists who should deal with that are way to liberal arts oriented as there would be any practicable research.

  • I do know that the example I have given is not idiomatic. I have intended to know which tendencies would be better to follow when it comes to be that we have four different adverbial phrases as well as two objects. And in order to find these tendencies I have just cared for creating a sentence that would have all these elements, regardless of the content, insofar I am essentially interested in the formal aspect of the sentence.
    – Lalo
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 18:12

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