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  5. "Ich sah ihn springen."

"Ich sah ihn springen."

Translation:I saw him jumping.

September 25, 2014



Spring or jump, both for springen


I thought that only modal verbs were allowed to miss the zu before the main verb? In my head this sentence would have been Ich sah ihn zu springen How does it work then?


This is an AcI construction (accusativus cum infinitivo), which Latin did quite a bit but German (and English) also do a little.

The main verb in English or German is usually one of perception (see, hear, feel), and it's followed by a noun or pronoun in the accusative case and then by a verb in the infinitive.

The accusative-case object of the main verb is the logical subject of the infinitive.

So in Ich sehe ihn kommen "I see him come", the person who is coming is er/"he".

Or Ich höre den Hund bellen "I hear the dog bark", the thing which is barking is der Hund/"the dog".

Side note: Latin also did this with a lot more verbs such as "know" (the equivalent of Ich weiß ihn ein Buch lesen/"I know him read a book" would mean Ich weiß, dass er ein Buch liest/"I know that he is reading a book").


If you can replace it with a geroun in English, then it is a circumstance and not an object (which would follow zu + inf).


The infinitive acts here as a noun. So you saw him + you saw jumping = you saw him + jumping. It is kind of a double object of the verb.


Hüpfen and springen are both jump


    What would Ich sah ihn springend (using the Partizip I form) mean, if anything?


    My interpretation would be "I saw him jumpingly" (i.e. my seeing him was somehow done in a jumping sort of way) or "I saw him while I was jumping".


    I seen him jumping. Is this not the same thing?


    No, it is not grammatically correct. I HAVE seen him jumping/I saw him jumping.


    But we would say it in colloquial usage.. like some places in Ireland


    Is this a common way of phrasing something?


    This came up in the subjunctive topic - is any of this sentence actually in the subjunctive mood? Looks like the imperfect?

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