2

Ich habe mich gestern mit dir getroffen

vs

Ich habe mich mit dir gestern getroffen.

The position of "gestern" is changed. Are both correct? Or time should always be before the objects in german?

  • Anyone can help? – Tomas May 5 '18 at 14:44
3

Word order in German is very flexible. Maybe you can find some books that will tell you that time should come before the person, but this rule is very weak, and most native speakers aren't even aware of it.

Both versions are correct. There are even more word orders that are correct too:

  1. Ich habe mich gestern mit dir getroffen.
  2. Ich habe mich mit dir gestern getroffen.
  3. Gestern habe ich mich mit dir getroffen.
  4. Mit dir habe ich mich gestern getroffen.
  • The auxiliary verb habe (a form of haben), which has to be inflected according to the subject, must always be on position 2.
  • The full verb getroffen (a form of treffen) must stand on the last position.
  • Position 1 can be occupied by anything else.
  • The dative object (the reflexive pronoun mich) must follow the subject as soon as possible.
  • The two other parts of speech can not stand between the verb (on position 2) and the subject. So, if not placed on position 1, they have to stand between mich and getroffen.

In my list above #2 is a little bit outstanding, because, without knowledge of the context, it might seem better to replace it with #1. But unusual word orders are often used to emphasize something. For example, if you want to emphasize the time, then version #2 is a good choice. (Also the word order form #3 is a good choise in this situation, as used in the 3rd sentence):

Ich habe mich mit dir vorgestern getroffen. Ich habe mich mit dir gestern getroffen. Heute treffe ich mich wieder mit dir, morgen sehen wir uns ohnehin bei Kurts Party, und jetzt möchtest du dich übermorgen schon wieder mit mir treffen? Ist das nicht ein bisschen oft?

I met you the day before yesterday. I met you yesterday. Today we meet again, tomorrow we will meet at Kurt's party anyway, and now you want to meet me again the day after tomorrow? Isn't this a little bit often?

  • I disagree. Native speakers are quite sensitive to position in this construction - to the point where alternative 2. sounds strange unless you're emphasizing that the meeting took place yesterday rather than on some other day. – Kilian Foth May 6 '18 at 11:32

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