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Zu + Infinitiv in German


A very, very important and simple topic in German is the “zu” union, which should be used in some infinitive constructions with two verbs.

“Zu” is added if there is more than one verb in the sentence:

  • Ich empfähle dir Falafel zu essen – I advise you to eat falafel;
  • Es ist immer problematisch, alle Angaben zu machen – it is always problematic to do all tasks.

“Zu” + “Infinitiv” stands at the end of the sentence, and “zu” stands right before the verb in the infinitive. If we are dealing with a verb with a detachable prefix, “zu” stands between the prefix and the verb:

  • Ich versuche mein Zimmer aufzuräumen – I try to clean my room;

If we have a verb that consists of two words, “zu” is placed before the second word:

  • Es ist gut, spazieren zu gehen – take a good walk;

Note that when we use “zu” + “Infinitiv,” it means that both actions are performed by the same subject:

  • Es ist unmöglich für mich, ohne Fehler zu schreiben – this is impossible for me, to write without errors (for me to write);

If we need some other subject in an appendage sentence, we use a construct with “dass” that we already know:

  • Es ist unmöglich, dass er ohne Fehler schreibt – it’s impossible for him to write without errors;

But there are verbs with which the union “zu” is never used:

Modal verbs: müssen, könne, dürfen, möchten, sollen, wollen.

  • Ich darf dir das Geheimnis nicht erzählen – I am not allowed to tell you the secret;

Verbs: lassen, gehen (go), bleiben (stay0, hören (hear), sehen (see);

  • Ich höre meine Freundin weinen – I hear my friend crying;
  • Ich gehe lernen – I go to study;

Here we go. It’s not difficult at all, and as a result, new cool grammar structures open up for you.

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