Ich kann sie mir gut als Lehrerin vorstellen.

{vs}: Stell dir das nicht so einfach vor!

I'm not sure what grammatical rule dictates the word order of the Direct Object and the Indirect Object lined up consecutively in these two sentences.

In the first sentence, the Direct Object sie is followed by the Indirect Object mir, whereas in the second, it is the other way round.

Is it ungrammatical to switch around the word order of sie and mir, and dir and das respectively?

  • 4
    Please forget about direct and indirect objects. That's a concept from English. German only has dative, accusative and genitive objects. Why is this important? Because a verb may have a single object which is in dative and "direct". Sie hörte ihm zu.
    – Janka
    Apr 5, 2017 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


This is not a question of case. The preferred order within such pronoun clusters depends on the specific type of pronoun used:

Ich kann mir das nicht vorstellen.

*Ich kann das mir nicht vorstellen.

Ich kann es mir nicht vorstellen.

*Ich kann mir es nicht vorstellen.

Ich kann mich dem nicht entziehen.

*Ich kann dem mich nicht entziehen.

As you see, neuter impersonal pronouns precede personal pronouns, and personal pronouns precede demonstrative pronouns no matter which case they come in. The reason might be more do more with euphony and prosody than with syntactic principles (English is more dependent on surface order precisely because it has little overt case).


In this case, dir comes with the verb vorstellen and you can't put them separately in the sentence.

Otherwise, if you have two objects, one in Akkusativ and second in Dativ, the rule is:

If you have two full nouns:

Ich gebe meinem Freund das Buch.

Then Dativ first, Akkusativ after.

Only one pronoun and one noun:

Ich gebe ihm das Buch. Ich gebe es meinem Freund.

So first the pronoun and after the noun.

Two pronouns:

Ich gebe es ihm.

First Akkusativ and after Dativ.

  • Thanks. So in the 2nd sentence, should I consider "das" to be a noun instead of a pronoun? Apr 5, 2017 at 20:33
  • 3
    @Marcia: Ich gebe das Buch meinem Freund. is just as correct as your example.
    – Janka
    Apr 5, 2017 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Janka it is correct, but it adds an emphasis to “meinem Freund” that the other sentence doesn't have. Apr 6, 2017 at 5:35
  • @Alone-zee yes, that works fine. The only question you need to ask is pronoun or not, and since das is not a pronoun, it comes at the end. Apr 6, 2017 at 5:39
  • Note that the second example in the question contradicts your two-pronoun rule and is still preferred. Apr 6, 2017 at 7:31

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