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Is one of the sentences below incorrect, or is there a preference to one over the other?

  • Ich möchte bitte ein Glas Wasser.
  • Ich möchte ein Glas Wasser bitte.

Thanks.

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    Notice that there must be a comma before bitte in the second sentence. Mar 29 at 7:57
  • @Björn Friedrich: the comma is optional, see my comment below.
    – HalvarF
    Mar 29 at 10:00
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Ich möchte bitte ein Glas Wasser.

This is the standard word order in German, and you sound most fluent when you put it this way.

Ich möchte ein Glas Wasser[,] bitte.

This is a perfectly valid variant. My suspicion is that in oral communication, the most widespread reason for this being used by native speakers is that they forgot to add "bitte" earlier. Non-native speakers often use this because it is the standard word order in English, French and other languages.

However, you could also argue that bitte is placed at the end of the sentence here to put a bit more emphasis on it; German grammar allows for that.

In writing, you can optionally set a comma before bitte (or before and after bitte in the first variant).

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    I'm not sure regarding the rules but I would be inclined to place a comma before "bitte" in the second example.
    – Roland
    Mar 29 at 5:51
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    Please note that in terms of punctuation, the second form requires a comma: "Ein Wasser, bitte!". Mar 29 at 9:36
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    Please note that also "Bitte, ein Glas Wasser!" would work. But I agree that the most fluent form is the first one. Mar 29 at 9:38
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    @Roland, Nils Magnus: the comma is optional. duden.de/sprachwissen/rechtschreibregeln/komma#D131, duden.de/rechtschreibung/bitte
    – HalvarF
    Mar 29 at 9:52

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