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Please tell me whether the following is correct. I have read that, in German sentence structure, the order of objects is first dative, then accusative. Now take this sentence:”Ich muss ein Taxi zum Stadion nehmen.” Here, the accusative object “ein Taxi” precedes “zum Stadion” which is in dative. However, this does not break the rule because “zum Stadion” is not an object, but rather a prepositional phrase. Is that correct?

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2 Answers 2

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Ich muss ein Taxi zum Stadion nehmen.

This isn't an accusative object followed by a dative object, but a noun accusative object followed by a directional adverbial. You may also see zum Stadion as a complement describing ein Taxi more in detail. Compare last train to London or highway to hell.

You can see that from the preposition zu that leads the noun. It marks a directional adverbial, among other things.

I have read that, in German sentence structure, the order of objects is first dative, then accusative.

This is unfortunately incorrect. The default word order places known information early and new information late. So noun accusative objects go late because they usually convey a new object previously not talked about. Pronoun accusative objects on the other hand go before the dative object as they refer to something previously talked about.

Complicated and too vague? YES! So forget about that too, and follow this recipe:

  1. a topic of your choice — only in main clauses
  2. V2 verb — only in main clauses
  3. subject
  4. pronoun accusative object
  5. dative object
  6. temporal adverbial
  7. causal adverbial
  8. modal adverbial
  9. locational adverbial (not directional!)
  10. noun accusative object
  11. directional adverbial or prepositional object
  12. predicate verbs
  13. an adverbial of your choice or a comparison

This order works for 99% of all clauses.

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  • I’m a little confused about points 1, 2 and 3. I assume that points 1 through 10 give the sentence order for each part of speech. (1) A topic of my choice. You mean the grammatical subject? Yes, the subject would typically go in position one, but then why is subject given in point 3? (2) Does V2 refer to (a) the verb in the second position, (b) the verb in its second form (past tense), or (c) both? Jul 3, 2023 at 14:36
  • Point 1 is the topic. That may be anything. This position in a main clause gives no hint at all about what this item is. You may put any of the other items but the V2 verb there. You can even move the predicate verbs from 12 to 1. The subject is not special either. It may go to position 1 but more commonly an adverbial or expletive goes there.
    – Janka
    Jul 3, 2023 at 20:51
  • V2 is "the verb in second position".
    – Janka
    Jul 3, 2023 at 20:51
  • The topic is the one thing the sentence revolves around. English example: In winter, we go the Alps by train. German: Im Winter fahren wir mit dem Zug in die Alpen.
    – Janka
    Jul 3, 2023 at 20:53
  • Thank you very much! Jul 4, 2023 at 0:13
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Yes, it is an adjunct.
But even if it were a complement, this sentence would be correct, as it would follow the formula

[Subject] + [Accusative Object] + [Prepositional Object] + ["Verb"]

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