Double infinitives with modals

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by driFDer, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    I am having some trouble in understanding or "feeling" the translation of some of these sentence constructions. I understand how they are constructed but translation is a bit fuzzy. I understand that one can not make a word for word translation but, I'm hoping some of you might be able to help. (I entered my word for word "literal" translations so you all can see how I "read" each sentence)Here are some examples:

    present perf: Ich habe das Auto kaufen wollen.
    (I have the car buy wanted)= I wanted to buy the car.
    This one is simple.

    past perf: Ich hatte das Auto kaufen wollen.
    (I had the car buy wanted)= I had wanted to buy the car.
    Again, this one is quite easy to understand.

    future: Ich werde das Auto kaufen wollen.
    (I will the car buy wanted)= I will want to buy the car.
    Is my interpretation correct? Wollen is past tense buy in my translation it is not. This is where I get a bit lost.

    future perf: Ich werde das Auto haben kaufen wollen.
    (I will the car have buy wanted)= I will probably want to buy the car.
    I understand that in most cases the future perfect is used to express presumption. Again, is my translation loosely accurate? I don't think the last two sentences can be directly translated to English. I am more or less trying to get the overall "feeling" that is trying to be expressed.

    Please correct any mistakes, and more examples would be great.
    Thank you all for your time.

  2. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Wollen - why would you translate this with "wanted"?

    In the future tense, you shouldn't have any problems.
    Ich werde das Auto kaufen. - kaufen is in the intinitive form, not in the participle one
    Ich werde das Auto kaufen wollen. - simply an extension of the above

    Ich habe das Auto gekauft. - participle
    Ich habe das Auto kaufen wollen. - :warn: change of the rule (for modals and a few other verbs like sehen, hören, lassen etc.)

    If you really find the literal English translation helpful, you will need "buy want" at the end of each of your sentences.
  3. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    I believe I have understood your "error of thinking": The verb wollen is the infinitiv. It is not the past tense of wollen. The past participle is gewollt.

    Ich will. <Präsens>
    Ich habe gewollt. <Perf. with participle>
    Ich wollte.
    Ich werde wollen. <Fut I, future I never has a participle>
    Ich werde gewollt haben. <Fut II>

    You can add objects to wollen and nothing will change:

    Ich will ein Auto. <Präsens>
    Ich habe ein Auto gewollt. <Perfekt>
    Ich werde ein Auto wollen. <Fut. I>
    Ich werde ein Auto gewollt haben. <Fut II>

    If the object is replaced by an infinitive, i.e. by an action instead of an object, the simple, but wrong solution were:

    Ich will ein Auto kaufen. <Präsens>:tick:
    Ich habe ein Auto kaufen gewollt. <Perf> :cross:
    Ich werde ein Auto kaufen wollen. <Fut. I>:tick:

    The exception and quite difficult rule is now that the past participle gewollt is never written after infinitives. Don't ask why, it's just as it is. The rule is: If gewollt would follow an infinitive, replace the past participle with the its own infinitive. This is called Ersatzinfinitiv. That's it!

    (1) Ich habe ein Auto kaufen wollen. <Perf> :tick: <Ersatzinfinitiv>
    (2) Ich werde ein Auto kaufen wollen. <Fut. I>:tick: <normal future>

    In the first sentence you have to apply the strange rule, in the second sentence the infinitive is just a normal Futur I construciton.

    Do you understand?

  4. EvilWillow Senior Member

    German (Germany)
    Futur II (future perfect, as you call it) is used very rarely. Your example can be translated simply as "I will have wanted to buy the car." and, given the context, doesn't express a presumption. So if you want to say "I will probably want to buy the car." you have to use Futur I and say "Ich werde das Auto wohl kaufen wollen." (which still sounds awkward in both languages because of the modal verb, but that's not the issue right now).

    Futur II can be used to express presumptions, but only when they refer to something that (probably) already happened ("might have happened") - not with a future reference ("might happen").
  5. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    I have only really seen wollen used as a verb "to want." I have also been taught that modals have two types of past participles: "wollen"= Gewollt & wollen (when there is more than two verbs in a sentence). That is why I was confusing it with "wanted" (past) instead of "want."

    I did realize that kaufen was in its infinitive form. Wollen was the verb I was having trouble with. I thought wollen was in its participle form. Okay now this makes more sense. That explains why I was only having trouble with future tenses. So in your two examples, is it safe to say they both translate to I will buy a car? So "wollen" at the end of this clause is NOT a past participle? I thought a past participle with a helping verb were a must in all perfect tenses. Funny, I think they should have mentioned that in the book especially, since that section was directly after present & past perfect tenses.
  6. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Please read my contribution carefully!

    wollen is an infinitive;
    gewollt is the past participle;
    Perfekt requires a past participle -- with the exception that in the case of "modal verbs following an infinitive", you use the modal verb infinitive instead of the past participle. You can say the modal infinitive plays the role of the participle here.
  7. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    Again I realize that. Perhaps I wasn't clear. (I make a habit of it;) ) I have been taught that "wollen" has 2 past participles. (wollen and gewollt)

    Now this makes total sense! Sentence one can be translated as: I have wanted to buy a car. The second sentence being: I will want to buy a car. Correct? (God I hope so) Thank you all for being so patient. I always get stuck on stupid little stuff like this. I think sometimes my problem can be that I over think things.

  8. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    Okay after a long battle I get it now. Thanks for not giving up on me.;) It actually makes complete and logical sense. I was under the impression that modals used after infinitives though in their infinitive form, were still past participles. I sure you can imagine my confusion and frustration. I was only having trouble because I was under the wrong impression, and I could not make sense of what was trying to be expressed. Now that you all have informed me on some important facts that the book I am reading failed to mention, now it all makes total sense. It would be sort of stupid if German sentences were constructed the way I thought they were. Thank you once again Jana and Kajjo. I'm sure I'll be bugging you all again here shortly! ;)

  9. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Unfortunately not. It translates to "I have wanted to buy a car". (present perfect / Perfekt) I am sure that was just a typo.

  10. Acrolect Senior Member

    German, Austria
    I think your rule (the one with the two participles) makes sense grammatically and produces the same result as the one with the Ersatzinfinitiv (actually more sense, because then you can also keep the syntactic rule with perfect always requiring a form of haben and a past participle). So I would not be too harsh with your book.

    The only problem is that the second past participle has the same form as the infinitive. And for non-native speakers it is certainly difficult to keep the two apart.
  11. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Wait until you use some of these constructions in subordinate clauses!

    e.g. ..., weil ich das Auto nicht habe kaufen dürfen.
  12. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    Well I will gladly climb that mountain when I get there. I only stay interested in things that are difficult. You know what I mean?:)

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