Multiple infinitives

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Multiple infinitives

Post  kosovohp on Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:37 am

German subordinate clauses have all verbs clustered at the end. Given that auxiliaries encode future, passive, modality, and the perfect, this can lead to very long chains of verbs at the end of the sentence. In these constructions, the past participle in ge- is often replaced by the infinitive.

Man nimmt an, dass der Deserteur wohl erschossenV wordenpsv seinperf solltemod
One suspects that the deserter probably shot became be should
("It is suspected that the deserter probably should have been shot")

The order at the end of such strings is subject to variation, though the latter version is unusual.

Er wusste nicht, dass der Agent einen Nachschlüssel hatte machen lassen
He knew not that the agent a picklock had make let

Er wusste nicht, dass der Agent einen Nachschlüssel machen lassen hatte
He knew not that the agent a picklock make let had

("He did not know that the agent had had a picklock made")

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