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I'm in self-learning phase. Please pardon me if you find it repeated/very basic.

My question is: I understand subject should be at first and verb shall be at second position. But how do we arrange rest of the sentence?

For example, in the following sentence.

Ich reise im August nach Paris.

Is it wrong to put it as follows?

Ich reise nach Paris im August.

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Both variations are correct, but

Ich reise im August nach Paris.

is more common or natural than

Ich reise nach Paris im August.

Another aspect that can influence the word order is emphasis. If you want to emphasise the point in time of your travel, you can use

Ich reise nach Paris im August (und nicht im September).

If you want to list your travel plans, it could also become

Im August reise ich nach Paris, und im September nach Rom.

As you see, while the word order subject - predicate - object(s) remains the foundation, it can be switched around if necessary.

As a side note, to use the verb "reisen" in this case feels a bit weird, more formal than necessary. In everyday speech, you probably would say

Ich fahre im August nach Paris.

meaning "I go to Paris in August" instead of "I travel to Paris in August".

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  • Great! Thanks for the response Mr. Kockerbeck. :) – Anroop Jul 19 '20 at 12:25
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    My understanding is that in German there is a "natural" word order, the word order you'd use if you don't want to emphasis or point out any particular element of the sentence. German allows you to deviate from that, but no matter how many times you hear that German word order is flexible, you still need to learn the natural word order and stick to it until you've mastered the subtleties. The rule of thumb here is "Time, Manner, Place" for the natural order of verb modifiers, so you'd usually put im August (Time) before nach Paris (Place). – RDBury Jul 19 '20 at 17:15
  • @Henning Kockerbeck, 1. when we say "Ich reise nach Paris im August", we probably imply that "ich reise nach Paris" is already known piece of information, and "im August" is new information. And we push it to the end because it's new, to create emphasis. 2. "Im August reise ich nach Paris" - here the new information is "nach Paris". But we will not achieve any emphasis by just putting it at the last position, because it will be the default order. So to achieve emphasis we pull "Im August" to the beginning. Do I understand correctly the logic? – Alexey Mar 3 at 23:03
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    @Alexey If you diverge from the "normal" word order like shown in the answer, it typically creates emphasis. This emphasis can be used for a number of purposes, for example to mark new information. Another purpose could be to express contrast, like "Ich fahre nach Paris im August, nicht wie Du im September, also können wir uns leider kein Hotelzimmer teilen." In a question the emphasis may be used to express surprise, like "Du fährst nach Paris im August? Da ist es doch so heiß dort!". So the basic idea is the emphasis, for whatever purpose. – Henning Kockerbeck Mar 4 at 8:49
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    @Alexey I'm not sure whether there are fixed rules for that. As a native speaker, it seems obvious to me that in "Ich reise nach Paris im August" the emphasis is on "im August", but I can't really say why. – Henning Kockerbeck Mar 4 at 17:05

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