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zu+verb or just the verb


I am confused cux I encountered two sentence structures to say pretty much the same thing.. ie, noun+verb+2nd verb and n+v+zu+2nd v .. Eg will it be "Du isst zu leben (nicht leben zu essen)" or "Du isst leben" ? "Ich gehe schwimmen" or "ich gehe zu schwimmen"? "Sie geht laufen" or "Sie geht zu laufen"? Are both acceptable? I used to use the first construction.. just ran into the second.

July 4, 2017



Ich gehe schwimmen. Ich gehe laufen. Du isst um zu leben.

Now schwimmen gehen and laufen gehen are like one action. Unlike the isst um zu leben.

Ich schwimme - right now Im somehow in the pool and are swimming. Ich gehe schwimmen - I am going to a place where I can swim and then swim there.

Du isst um zu leben. Your action is eating, the reason why you eat is to survive.

Ich vergesse zu atmen. (I forget to breath). Your action is you are forgetting, but the action it self is described -> what are you forgetting.

Ich vergesse um zu überleben. I forget something and the reason for the forgetting is to survive.

Ich vergesse zu überleben. I forget to survive (its not why or how, its simply you forget to do the action "surviving").


I get it.. thanks a lot :)


Also, if you can please tell me, when um is used to mean at, does it just indicate the time, as wiktionary says, or can it also be used for a place (which i think i saw on DL)? Any place (cux in german there are different to's at least for different places)?


Um with Uhrzeit or a rough estimated time (but mostly with Uhrzeit) = always time (and without any time its not at in a temporal meanign). Um Zwölf - at twelve o'clock.

Um with a verb of motion and an accusative can describe describe that you are going around a location. Ich gehe um das Haus (gehe verb of motion, das Haus accusative). Im going around the house (you do not go in or out, its something like around).

Also um (this um is less often used as the other um) can describe that something is at/around something (this is a somehow different around). Der Hund ist im Grass und hat Vögel um sich. The dog is in the grass and has birds around himself. Unlike the previous one its not a verb of motion but describes a situation. There are birds at the same place as the dog (its not important that they are all around him, they could also be all on the right side and then to left or some other combination)

Um can describe the reason for something, we have examples above.

Now we have two more usages of um and I encounter them far less often than all above.

Um that describes a succession, usually in (semi) set terms. Es vergeht Jahr um Jahr. ~Year after year passes.

Er war um mehrere Sekunden schneller als sein Gegner. This construct might be even considered oldfashioned, since you could also say "Er war mehrere Sekunden schneller ...". Different example, but again same issue. "Er kauft ein Eis um 2 Euro." This would sound even more strange, since this shifted to "Er kauft ein Eis für 2 Euro", but specially in older texts you might encounter a usage of um like this. Also in some austrian dialects you will hear this, but in germany its rare. This um describes a relation between two things or a set price.

Now that are all Ums that Im remembering.


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thats better than wiktionary.

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