Here is a sentence:

Er hatte schon fast die Nummer von daheim gewählt, als er sich es anders überlegte

Grammar checkers invert the order of "es" and "sich". Why is that? Why is my version incorrect?

4 Answers 4


The simplest explanation is that "sich" is dative in this case and for pronouns the order is usually accusative then dative. (The opposite is true for (regular) nouns, and pronouns generally go before nouns.) That "überlegen" takes a dative reflexive pronoun can be found in a dictionary, but it's the kind of thing you need to memorize when you learn the verb. Wiktionary gives the example "Ich überlege es mir." = "I'll think about it."


Sich can stand anywhere in the middle field, so either is fine. (Duden 1359)

This is one reason to remember well that "sich" is the only reflexive pronoun, and all other commonly called "reflexive pronouns" are just recycled other pronouns, used for reflexive purpose...

For other unstressed pronouns, you have Nominativ > Akkusativ > Dativ and the pronoun follows the left verb bracket, where only the the subject can optionally be put between the two.


This is a difficult one and here are two example sentences (both in their "most natural" word order) to illustrate the problem:

Ich überlege es mir.
Ich überlege mir das.

Aside from all the general "Akkusativ before Dativ"- and "anywhere in the Mittelfeld"-rules mentioned in other answers there is the fact that the unspecified "es" has to be put in front of "mir" whereas the specified "das" has to be put behind.

I cannot quote a rule for that, but if there was one, it should go like this:

When a "reflexives Verb" takes an "Akkusativobjekt" and this "Objekt" is represented by a "Pronomen", then the "Indefinitpronomen" goes last (behind the "Reflexivpronomen") whereas the "Definitpronomen" goes first (before the "Reflexivpronomen").

Like this:

Er machte es sich unmöglich.
Er machte sich das unmöglich.

My (unfounded) suspicion is, that "es" can act as a Korrelat and what "es" specifies can be put behind, whereas "das" doesn't have this power. For instance:

Er machte es sich unmöglich, die Prüfung zu wiederholen.
Er machte sich das Wiederholen der Prüfung unmöglich.


Google string search "als er sich es": 182000 (raw) hits. It also doesn't sound wrong to me intuitively.

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