He ordered the boy to be put to bed

Justwantoknow

Senior Member
Russian (Ukraine)
Please, help me! Are all kinds of Infinitive can be used in the German construction "Akkusativ mit Infinitiv"? (passive, perfect...). I mean how the following sentences should be translated from English into German:

I hate him to be beaten.
He ordered the boy to be put to bed.

The doctor found his heart to have stopped two hours before.

What are the differencews btw this construction in German and in English? Is it often used in the German language?
 
  • Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    Not being a specialist in German linguistics, I can just offer my intuitive understanding of the issue. As far as I can judge, the accusative plus infinitive construction is only possible in connection with verbs of sense perception.
    Ich hörte sie ein Lied singen.

    'I heard her (or them) sing (or singing) a song'

    Ich fühlte sein Herz schlagen

    'I felt his heart beating/beat'

    Ich sah dich über die Straße gehen

    'I saw you cross/crossing the street'
    This construction is not possible with passive or perfect infinitives.

    There are structures which look similar (on a deeper syntactic level they are not, but I do not want to go into this), without however necessarily involving an accusative.
    Ich befehle ihnen, ein Lied zu singen.

    'I order them to sing a song.'

    Ich bitte sie, ein Lied zu singen.

    'I ask them to sing a song.'

    Ich lehre sie, ein Lied zu singen.

    'I teach them to sing a song.'
    They are not normally used with perfect or passive infinitives either.
     

    Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    1. I hate him to be beaten.
    2. He ordered the boy to be put to bed.
    3. The doctor found his heart to have stopped two hours before.
    1. I will auf keinen Fall, dass er geschlagen wird.
    (I hasse es, wenn er geschlagen wird. does not really convey the meaning of the English original sentence)

    2. Er befahl, den Buben/Jungen zu Bett zu bringen.
    (as a matter of fact, with its infinitive clause this sentence looks similar to the English one, at least superficially. Mind however that it is the active infinitive, which means that the accusative of den Buben is clearly the object of the verb bringen)

    3. Der Arzt/die Ärztin erkannte/fand heraus, dass sein Herz zwei Stunden zuvor zu schlagen aufgehört hatte.
     

    Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    Geliebt zu werden, ist wunderbar.
    To be loved is wonderful. = It is wonderful to be loved.

    Einmal im Leben jemanden geliebt zu haben, ist wunderbar.
    To have loved somebody once in your life is wonderful.

    So etwas erlebt zu haben, ist schlimm.
    To have experienced something like this is terrible.

    I will geliebt werden.
    I want to be loved.

    Er könnte das falsch verstanden haben.
    He might have misunderstood this.

    Ich musste die Hoffnung, nicht erkannt zu werden, sehr schnell aufgeben.
    I soon had to abandon the hope not to be recognized.

    Ich war froh, so etwas nicht erlebt zu haben.
    I was happy not to have experienced anything like this.

    Ich verschwand, um nicht erkannt zu werden.
    I left (in order) not to be recognized.

    Just a small selection of where passive and perfect infinitives are possible in German.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Ich verschwand, um nicht erkannt zu werden.
    I left (in order) not to be recognized.

    Just a small selection of where passive and perfect infinitives are possible in German.
    Your translations are very good, but the last one does not work without "in order".

    I left in order not to be recognized.

    I'm stumped by these sentences:

    I hate him to be beaten.
    He ordered the boy to be put to bed.

    The doctor found his heart to have stopped two hours before.
    I can only think of "work-arounds":

    I hate the fact that he is beaten.
    (I hate that he is beaten.)

    He ordered that the boy be put to bed.
    He had the boy put to bed.

    The doctor found that his heart had stopped two hours before.

    I'm not sure, but I think the sentences in this form will be easy to translate. How would you translate them? <curious>

    Gaer
     
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