I saw this sentence

wenn ihm jemand zu nahe kommt, dann..

Should it be:

wenn jemand ihm zu nahe kommt, dann..

  • 4
    German is just quite flexible concerning word order. Both are correct. May 28 at 21:16
  • Welcome to German.SE. Why should the first one be incorrect? Or why should (only) the second be correct? Which (learning) source/rule claims so? Jun 2 at 10:41

In German, phrase order is to a good degree redundant because of the case system that hasn't survived a lot in English except for pronouns. So it is pretty customary to put the most discriminative phrase in front. That will even happen when the case system actually is not sufficient for sorting things out (female gender, for example, does not distinguish a lot between cases, and plural is also not great in that respect). English, in contrast, assigns a lot more grammatical meaning (rather than mere emphasis) to phrase order.

  • 1
    Welcome! This is a good answer, except that you forgot to actually answer the question ;) I suggest that you say explicitly that both sentences are correct.
    – Carsten S
    May 29 at 14:18

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