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Infinitive in German

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What is the infinitive in German? 

There is no expression of numerus (grammatical number) and person in the infinitive form of a verb. In this lesson you will learn about the infinitive with or without "zu" and how you use them. The infinitive verb is placed at the end.

For example: Es dauert lange, durch die Innenstadt zu gehen.

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Infinitive verbs with zu

A lot of verbs need an infinitive form with zu. 

explanation verbexample with "zu"Translation
effort/ plansich bemühen, planen, versuchenIch versuche, still zu halten.I try to hold still
verbs that express opinionsdenken, erwarten, vermutenIch vermute, den Einbrecher gesehen zu haben.I suspect to have seen the burglar
verbs that express agreementsabmachen, beschließen, vereinbarenIch beschließe, meine Wohnung zu verlassen.I decide to leave my apartment
verbs that express a startbeginnen, anfangenIch beginne mich wohl zu fühlen.I start to feel well
verbs that express a decisionsich verpflichten, sich weigernIch weigere mich, meinen Platz zu verlassen.I refuse to leave my spot


The construction of the infinitive verbs with "zu"

There are to forms of using zu (zu or um ...zu).

1.The infinitive verb is widened with zu. Both are placed at the end of a sentence. 

Ich kann bald lesen und schreiben. -> Ich hoffe, bald lesen und schreiben zu können.

Willst du die Kirche besichtigen? -> Hast du Lust, die Kirche zu besichtigen?

 

2. The construction with um ... zu differs. It is equivalent to the English construction "(in order) to" plus the infinitive of the verb. Um is at the beginning of the infinitive-sentence. 

Esse einen Apfel, um gesund zu bleiben!

Um dick zu werden, muss man viel essen.

enlightenedPay attention, if you are using separable verbs."Zu" is placed between both parts of the verb. 

verb infinitiveexampleTranslation
abfahrenabzufahrenUm abzufahren, müssen die Türen geschlossen sein.To drive off, the doors must be closed
abreisenabzureisenUm abzureisen, müssen die Koffer gepackt sein.To travel, the bags must be packed.

 

Infinitive without zu

We use only the infinitive form, if the following verb is used... 

explanation of the verbverbexample without zuTranslation
modal verbskönnen, dürfen, sollenDu sollst dein Zimmer aufräumen.You are supposed to clean up your room
perceptionsehen, hören, spürenIch höre Sophia schreienI hear Sophia scream
motiongehen, kommen, fahrenEr fährt sie besuchen.He drives to visit her
 lassenEr lässt sie fahren.He lets her drive
 bleibenEr bleibt vor ihr stehen.He stays in front of her
 finden, habenSie hat ihre Flasche auf dem Boden stehen.She has her bottle standing on the floor

 

yesNow, that you have learned about the usage of infinitive verbs move on to our exercises to improve your knowledge.


Exercises

  1. Exercise of infinitive (separable / not separable)
  2. Exercise of infinitive verbs
  3. Exercise of the infinitive verbs

Exercise of infinitive (separable / not separable)


Exercise of infinitive verbs


Exercise of the infinitive verbs


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Next lessons

1 The infinitive in German (um…zu, ohne… zu) Learn everything about the use of the German infinitive with 'um..zu' and 'ohne..zu'
2 The double infinitive in German Learn about how to form and to use the German double infinitive