Objects in the sentence are ordered in a particular way. In the below sentences the Objects are always in the dative case (indirect objects).

  1. Tim ist auf dem Weg zur Schule mit seinen Freunden.

Here dem Weg und der Schule are dative, following the respective prepositions. Is this correct?

The same with the below sentence. Dem Haus before mit dem Hund.

  1. Damit er nicht mehr an dem Haus mit dem Hund vorbei gehen musste..

What is order of Objects in a sentence.

  • German word order is not fixed except for the positioning of the verbs. They can be moved around pretty freely for emphasis.
    – Jan
    Sep 16, 2016 at 14:50
  • Thanks for the clarity however, I know only this basic sentence structure subject+verb+Indirect Object+Direct Object+ seprableverb. means a sentence can hold only indirect object(s) without direct object(s) and vice versa?
    – user755
    Sep 16, 2016 at 14:57
  • 1
    Remove that ‘basic sentence structure’ out of your head for a number of reasons: 1) German does not have ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ objects but dative and accusative objects. 2) Verbs may or may not require a dative object and they may or may not require an accusative object; for example jemandem helfentakes dative only. 3) It depends on the nature of the objects. ‘Ich schenke ihm ein Buch’ is the less emphasised order but the dative object is before the accusative object.
    – Jan
    Sep 16, 2016 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


Your original formulation was not very clear; I will answer your question as I understood it.

Sentence 1: The order of the two phrases auf dem Weg zur Schule and mit seinen Freunden is arbitrary. You can equally well say Tim ist mit seinen Freunden auf dem Weg zur Schule. The order depends on where you want to place the emphasis, on his location or on the fact that his friends are with him. Please note that they are not objects, they are adjuncts. You can leave them out without much changing the meaning of the sentence. Obviously one of them needs to remain for the sentence to work.

Sentence 2: There are two readings here. The first, more obvious one IMO, is that there is a house with a dog, and he does not want to walk past it. In that case the whole lot is a single phrase, das Haus mit dem Hund. It is in the dative because of the preposition an. There is no possibility of swapping the order of the two elements.

The second option is that he is walking the dog, and he does not want to walk past that particular house. In that case it would be preferable to say damit er nicht mehr mit dem Hund an dem Haus vorbeigehen musste, to make it obvious that the dog is not part of the house. So here you have a free choice, but depending on the meaning there is a strong preference for one of them.

  • From the basic grammar for sentence construction subject+verb+Indirect Object+Direct Object+ seprableverb. Sentence 1 doesnt suffice the rule. Holds the same for sentence 2 which is neben satz
    – user755
    Sep 16, 2016 at 14:18
  • @user755 They aren't indirect objects, though. An example with a direct object would be Tim gibt seinem Freund ein Brot ab. ("Tim shares a bread with his friend"). Here the word order is fixed. Sep 16, 2016 at 14:27
  • Are you implying ‘Tim gibt ein Brot seinem Freund ab’ be invalid? (CC @user755 ).
    – Jan
    Sep 16, 2016 at 17:41
  • @Jan It definitely sounds odd to me. Not totally wrong, you could for example have Tim gibt einen Teil davon seinem Freund ab, which to me sounds perfectly fine. So I guess it's the abgeben that clashes with the Brot here. Sep 16, 2016 at 18:41
  • The order of objects depends primarily on meaning. If one of the two objects contains more surprising information, it normally comes last. As a result, if only one object is represented by a pronoun (hence noun already), it normally comes first: "Tim gibt es seinem Freund ab. - Tim gibt ihm eines ab." Similarly if one object has a definite article and the other an indefinite one: "Tim gibt das Brot einem Freund. - Tim gibt dem Freund ein Brot." (Italics mark here what was mentioned before.) The opposite order is possible, but is reserved for special emphasis in unusual cases.
    – user2183
    Sep 21, 2016 at 0:00

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