27.2 Change of word order in a phrase to emphasis something

The reader knows that with putting something in the beginning of a phrase it gets an emphasis. The same happens in German.
Let's have a look at an example  
  I can come to your place tomorrow, if you like.
= Ich kann morgen zu dir kommen, wenn du willst.
  Tomorrow I can come to your place, if you like.
= Morgen kann ich zu dir kommen, wenn du willst.

Even though in both languages (English and German) something is stressed when putting it in the beginning of the phrase, there is a big difference in the position of the elements in a phrase. In both versions in English the subject is in front of the verb. But in German it is not. If a German phrase starts with a direct object, an indirect object, an adverbial qualification or and adverb, the subject goes behind the verb. In other words there is the inversion of the position of the elements. To be a bit more precise the subject goes behind the first conjugated verb. In general the meaning of a sentence is different depending on whether the phrase starts with an object or an adverbial qualification etc.. The condition when using a phrase that starts with a direct object is different from the condition when the phrase starts with a subject. Nevertheless the differences in meaning are the same no matter whether it's English or German. There should not be any problem for you to understand the differences in meaning of the following sentences.

  Let's have a look at some examples    
Er schenkt seinem Sohn ein Auto. He gives a car to his son.
  Wem schenkt er ein Auto?*   To whom he gives a car?
  Seinem Sohn   To his son.
  Was schenkt er seinem Sohn?*   What does he give to his son?
  Ein Auto   A car.

  An example in Perfekt    
Er hat seinem Sohn ein Auto geschenkt. He has given a car to his son.
  Wem hat er ein Auto geschenkt?   To whom has he given a car?
  Seinem Sohn   To his son.
  Was hat er seinem Sohn geschenkt?   What has he given to his son?
  Ein Auto   A car.

  An example with a personal pronoun for the indirect object
Er hat ihm ein Auto geschenkt. He has given him a car.
  Wem hat er ein Auto geschenkt?   To w hom has he given a car?
  Ihm   Him.
  Was hat er ihm geschenkt?   What has he given to him?
  Ein Auto   A car?
  With two personal pronouns for the direct and the indirect object
  Er hat es ihm geschenkt. He has given it to him.
  Wem hat er es geschenkt?   To whom has he given it?
  Ihm   To him.

  An example with an adverb of time    
Er hat ihm heute ein Auto geschenkt. Today he has given him a car.
  Wann hat er es ihm geschenkt?   When has he given it to him?
  Heute   Today.

* Don't mind the interrogative phrases. We use them here to put the affirmative phrases into a more realistic context. We are going to discuss interrogative phrases in detail in the following chapter Interrogative phrases.





contact privacy statement imprint