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In Italian, why are there some cases where a whole phrase is moved earlier in the sentence?

Example 1: "Why do they always serve the cappuccino so lukewarm in this cafe?"

translation 1 - Perché in questo caffè servono sempre il cappuccino così tiepido?

translation 2 - Perché servono sempre il cappuccino così tiepido in questo caffè?

Note, in the first translation "in this cafe" \ "in questo caffè" is moved earlier in the sentence. Why?

Example 2: "I offer everyone a drink."

translation 1 - Offro da bere a tutti.

translation 2 - Offro a tutti da bere.

The first translation puts "a drink" \ "da bere" earlier. Why?

Also, are both examples above correct and can both be understood by a native speaker?

I received both translation 1's from an Italian book. Translation 2 is from online translation services like Bing and Google. Both translations are grammatically correct and can be understood.

Prior Italian Stack exchange answers don't seem to answer this question. The implication of word order (subj. + verb) and The order of the subject and the verb in a particular sentence - provide details behind a specific word order vs. phrase order.

Thanks.

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  • It's not a “whole phrase” that is moved, is that a particular complement (“in questo caffè”, “a tutti”) can be placed in different places of a sentence.
    – DaG
    Jun 29, 2022 at 12:56
  • @DaG I think that this usage fits the English definition of a phrase. Jun 29, 2022 at 13:11
  • I see, @FedericoPoloni, thanks.
    – DaG
    Jun 29, 2022 at 13:25

2 Answers 2

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I'm surprised that you find it unusual, because as far as I know this feature exists in English as well. Maybe not in those exact examples, but for sure in very similar ones:

In this café, they always serve lukewarm cappuccinos.

They always serve lukewarm cappuccinos in this café.

Other European languages are similar. There is a certain freedom in the order of complements in a sentence, and it is not uncommon that some of them can be moved to the front for emphasis. It is just a language feature that adds expressiveness.

This feature comes to Italian from Latin, which had even more freedom in word order.

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You ask why are there those different cases, and the answer to your question is: the emphasis.

In Italian there is more freedom than in English to do those changes, and the difference is that in the first case, the stress is on the fact that the drinks were offered to everyone, whereas in the second case, the emphasis is on the fact that you offered drinks (and not, e.g., food). The emphasis is on the last element of the sentence.

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