"Sie konnten uns nicht kommen hören."

Translation:They could not hear us coming.

January 23, 2013

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/1lynnielynn

Could it also be translated: "You could not come to hear us" ?

June 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

no, that would be 'Sie konnten uns nicht (zu)hören kommen'

June 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dgroves1522

This follows the general German rule: most important verb comes at the end.

July 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/greenfire315

I have never seen two infinitives like this together. Is there a rule for word order? Thanks.

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

See here: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/WordOrder/WordOrder.html It's quite a long page, so I recommend searching for 'double infinitive'

The short version: double infinitives in perfect tenses go to the last position.

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/greenfire315

Thank you so much for this info! Do you work for Duolingo or are you just awesome because you always post really useful information and help everyone? :)

Does it matter which of the two infinitives come first? Is what I'm asking. Also, why does the modal verb not get pushed to the end as well? Or is it just the non-modal verbs that do that? Thanks!

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

Thanks. No, I don't work for duolingo and I really am awful ;-) I'll restrict myself to main clauses. Word order in subordinate clauses is a little bit different (see the link).

It depends on the two verbs. The general idea is that the last verb carries the main action of the infinitive pair. In our case, the main action is 'to hear'. What did they (not) hear? Our coming. If you switched the order, the main action would be 'to come' – they could not come to hear (i.e. listen to) us. It doesn't work with these two verbs, however, because 'to listen to' is 'zuhören' in German. So: "Sie konnten uns nicht zuhören kommen" - "They couldn't come to listen to us." Hope that helps.

And because you are so nice, here is special gift for you: A triple infinitive: "Sie werden uns nicht zuhören kommen können" ;-)

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/5oclockgazpacho

those verb clusters give me nightmares D:

August 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

"Hätten sie uns nicht zuhören kommen gedurft haben sollen?" – "Shouldn't they have been allowed to come to listen to us?" ;-) But don't panic: I had to make up this example. You'll rarely hear a German actually speak that way ;-) But from a grammatical point of view, it works ;-)

August 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BlairScots

Me too! Lol! Another nightmare for me was/is Adverbs! Hate them!

March 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/5oclockgazpacho

well, thanks to you there's finally a silver lining. Perhaps they should have explained it just like that during those German courses I took back in college. They didn't even bother to explain what 'kaum' actually means, so, you get the picture.

Thank you thank you thank you :)

August 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/greenfire315

How do the verb clusters work? What order do you put them in?

August 11, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/greenfire315

Oh wow. Does that mean "They will not be able to listen to us come"? Or "They will not be able to come to us listening"? Lol . . . Does it work backwards like that?

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

It means 'they will not be able to come to listen to us' ;-)

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/raconteur

u just killed me with that sentence.

October 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BerryYoghurt

If I may, why do I find it difficult to use a zu-infinitive clause? I mean, "Sie konnten nicht kommen, uns zu hoeren" oder "Sie konnten nicht kommen, um uns zu hoeren". I feel like something is wrong.. So what is the difference between the three versions?

February 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alinally

I think I will never be able to understand the word order in German, pfff!

April 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brainfree

I'm having trouble figuring out why the nicht is where it is... Say for instance you wanted to say "They could hear us not come." (which I realize is a little silly). It seems to me that the nicht should be between either the kommen and the hören or the konnten and the uns in the duolingo example, so I'm wondering how I can differentiate that nicht in the case of double infinitives.

November 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

See here for the position of "nicht": http://is.gd/EZo9IV If you want to express that you could hear the not-coming, you have to restort to a noun construction: "Sie konnten unser Nichtkommen hören".

November 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VaterGut

am i right in thinking that in order say, 'they could not come listen to us' one would have to insert ZU before hören?

February 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

"they could not come listen to us" would be 'Sie konnten uns nicht zuhören kommen' or "Sie konnten nicht kommen, (um) uns zuzuhören". Is that what you meant?

March 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LB_StorM

Zuzu??? Jesus

March 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

Yes ;-)

March 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marziotta

Ich kann etwas hören... ohne ZU.

Ich habe Lust, etwas zu machen... mit ZU

I think ZU often replaces the TO, but the one in front of the verb. "Listen to us" has "TO" but not before a verb.

(Let's see if some native German gives a better explanation. :) )

March 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dashkkk

nobody expects the spanish inquisition

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_JesusG_

So how would "They could not hear us arrive " in German be?

July 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/margusoja

Would it be ok to say like this? Sie konnten uns kommen nicht hören.

August 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Musetta

Isn't "konnten" related to the past? http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/German/k%C3%B6nnen.html why couldn't the answer be: "They couldn't have heard us coming." ?

January 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lughat

could is also the past of can, probably it is used in the sense similar to English

February 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philster043

That wasn't what Musetta was asking, it's "could not hear" vs "could not have heard" in this case. I think either would have worked, though, as they're both grammatical. Report it as correct.

April 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SelphieB

"Could not hear" and "could not have heard" mean two different things, are you sure the german can mean both? I feel like the second one should be "Sie könnten uns nicht kommen hören", but I'm always confused about these tenses....

May 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duoderSie

As SelphieB implies... "Couldn't hear" is imperfect/pretorite, while "couldn't have heard" is pluperfet and would be

Sie hatten uns nicht kommen hören können. (I think!)

May 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SelphieB

kommen hören können!? I love these German sentences that just have a string of verbs at the end. Thanks! :D

May 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Musetta

Thanks :)

May 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresinha

Now Duolingo extrapolated!!

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laruthell

How so?

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresinha

I think the degree of difficult increased suddenly... I'm almost giving up...

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laruthell

There have always been a few harder sentences thrown in randomly, and true, occasionally whole lessons are hard, but that is no cause to give up. The hardest part of language learning is usually near the beginning. If you can muster the patience and perseverance to get past that first big hump, it gets easier from there.

June 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresinha

"That first big hump"...uh... Thanks for the encouragement.

June 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gazzar91

Couldn't = could not!!

January 1, 2019
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