Question about past participle placement.

In this sentence, "Nach meinem Besuch habe ich angefangen Deutsch zu lernen" I noticed that the past participle does not show up at the end of the sentence. (Unlike in, "Ich habe meine Schwester in die Stadt gefahren.")

Can anyone explain why this is the case?


June 4, 2017

1 Comment

The easiest way to think of it is that "anfangen" uses an object in this case. If it didn't have an object, it would be

Nach meinem Besuch habe ich angefangen.

With the participle at the end. If you want to add an object to this, it could be

Nach meinem Besuch habe ich das Lernen/mit dem Lernen angefangen.

Here, Lernen is used as an object noun, that's why it's capitalized. Notice the participle is still at the end. If you have something more complicated to say, the object of your anfangen might be an entire phrase, so you transfer all this extra information into a new clause.

Nach meinem Besuch habe ich angefangen (end of main clause) Deutsch zu lernen (additional phrase)

There used to be a comma here after angefangen, but the language reform got rid of that. It's not actually a proper dependent clause, but it's a good way to think about it, I think.

By the way, it would be correct to say

Gestern habe ich das Deutsch Lernen angefangen.

But this sentence structure can get really unwieldy, as you can imagine

June 5, 2017
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