German: What is the difference between 'zu sein' and 'sein'?

I know that sein means 'to be'.

But I came across this sentence:

'Es macht Spaß, mit ihm zusammen zu sein.'

Which means 'It's fun to be together with him', or if you want to translate it more literally, 'It's fun, with him together to be.

But 'sein' means 'to be', so isn't this sentence actually saying 'It's fun, with him together to to be?

When do you use 'zu sein' rather than 'sein'? What is the difference?

March 27, 2018


that is an infinitive + zu construction. If you used other verbs you would also use the infinitive. 'Es macht Spaß, im See zu schwimmen' ('It's fun to swim in the lake.')

  • Es freut mich, Sie hier zu treffen. (I'm pleased to meet you here)
  • Sie schworen, es nie wieder zu tun. (They swore never to do it again)

The infinitive goes without zu when you are using modal verbs as well as several other verbs and situations. You can read more about when to use an infinitive with or without zu here:

March 30, 2018

Look here: "zusammen zu sein" means "being together with", so it makes sense to use it in the German translation of your sentence.

If you moved this question to the "German" category of forums, it would receive more attention and answers. Not many people check "Troubleshooting" looking for language questions, this part of the forums is more for technical and other problems not related to languages. I've stumbled in here and saw your post just by chance. ;)

March 28, 2018

Great link, Danke.

March 29, 2018

Zusammensein is a separable verb, and in this case it is separated. It is also a noun, as in "unser Zusammensein hat mir viel bedeutet."

March 29, 2018

Only in German. I can't think of anything that would be comparable in English to make something like Zusammensein be a noun. ;-)


March 29, 2018

I think the closest English comes to Zusammensein is the word :"gathering".

March 30, 2018

Yeah, I have to change the way I think about nouns.

Danke, gmbla.

April 2, 2018

Should separable verbs always be written with no spaces? Can or should you write zusammenzusein?

March 30, 2018
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