Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen.

harakiri

Senior Member
Japanese
"Nur ein Idiot glaubt, aus den eigenen Erfahrungen zu lernen. Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen, um von vorneherein eigene Fehler zu vermeiden." This phrase seems famous. I want to know how to understand «Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen». "To learn" or "learning"?

The following 2 phrases are wrong.
X01. I prefer to learn German language, and actually I do it.
X02. I prefer learning German language, if I try to learn something new.

We have to say:
01. I prefer learning German language, and actually I do it.
02. I prefer to learn German language, if I try to learn something new.
 
  • Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    «Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen»
    I prefer to learn from others’ experiences.

    I think "learning" is also OK.
    "prefer learning from" - Google Search
    1. prefer + noun + to (or over) + noun. Example: I prefer coffee to tea.
    2. prefer + gerund + to (or over) + gerund. Example: I prefer skiing to swimming.
    3. prefer + full infinitive + rather than + bare infinitive. Example: I prefer to eat fish rather than (eat) meat.
    prefer - Wiktionary
    You can ask in the English Only forum.
     

    harakiri

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Let me see... My question is purely about German, not about English. Even I explained the difference between "to do" and "doing" with examples explicitly to let you realize what my question was. If you wanted to say "We have to judge which case is suitable only from the context.", you could say so. If there is some structural difference, I prefer knowing such info about German, because the quote may have 2 meanings.

    Maybe I needed to ask you the following:
    How do you distinguish the difference between "to do" and "doing" (as written in 01 & 02) in German? Can you explain it to me with easy examples?
     
    Last edited:

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Your purported distinction between "prefer to do" and "prefer doing" is incorrect: the two are interchangeable in English.

    It sounds like your real question is whether the German sentence indicates that this is something I already do, or that this is something that I will do if I have the choice in the future. I think it's the former.
     

    harakiri

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Yes, elroy, you're right, but in the quote we can find 2 meanings. So I showed examples to let us realize the different case between "to do" and "doing".
     

    Boyar

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I want to know how to understand «Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen». "To learn" or "learning"?
    the different case between "to do" and "doing"
    Your question is about the difference between general and specific, I guess.

    1. General statement
    Imagine a questionnaire that gives you a choice:
    You prefer learning from a) your own mistakes or b) the mistakes of others
    Any reply will be a general statement (i.g.: I prefer learning from the mistakes of others). By using the gerund in your English sentence, you express a generality.
    The German version will be, however: "Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Fehlern anderer zu lernen".
    For further generality, you can use the nominalized infinitive: "Das Lernen aus den Fehlern anderer – das ist was ich vorziehe".

    2. Specific case
    Imagine yourself driving on a rainy day and watching other - reckless! - drivers making dangerous near-accident maneuvers. You get your speed down now and explain this to yourself and to the passengers in your car: I prefer to learn from the mistakes of others!
    The German version will be, again: "Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Fehlern anderer zu lernen".

    That's how I see it :)
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    ...

    It sounds like your real question is whether the German sentence indicates that this is something I already do, or that this is something that I will do if I have the choice in the future. I think it's the former.
    It depends on context.

    Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen ...
    I prefer to learn from the experiences of others ...

    1. General statement: valid in the past, at the present time, and in the future. (as you said: "something I already do"
    This is a statement how you are learning new things.) - This is the base meaning.

    2. Specific statement: I have a new task and no experiences here - but I do not want to make own experiments.
    So it refers to the future (I mean "real" future, not grammatical form "future".

    Please, could you show me tomorrow how to do it? Ich ziehe es (in diesem Fall) vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen, statt alles neu zu probieren.

    I wrote "tomorrow" as example and definition for future.
     

    Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    It sounds like your real question is whether the German sentence indicates that this is something I already do, or that this is something that I will do if I have the choice in the future. I think it's the former.
    :thumbsup:
    I didn't get it.


    "Das Lernen aus den Fehlern anderer – das ist was ich vorziehe".
    :tick:
    You could say it, but it’s awkward.


    Ich ziehe es (in diesem Fall) vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen, statt alles neu zu probieren.
    :thumbsup:


    Please note: The German "aktuell" means "currently; at the moment" in English. The English "actually" means "tatsächlich; wirklich" in German. These two words are "false friends", "falsche Freunde", "faux amis".
    The English gerund is not a continuous form. "I prefer learning…" is a sentence in the simple present tense. "I am learning…" is a sentence in the present continuous tense.

    Don't worry about your mistakes (if you made any). Language learning is difficult. I think I'd have a very hard time if I tried to learn Japanese. Keep going. Übung macht den Meister.

    Alles klar? :)
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    The German version will be, however: "Ich ziehe es vor, aus den Fehlern anderer zu lernen".
    This is idiomatic and fine.
    For further generality, you can use the nominalized infinitive: "Das Lernen aus den Fehlern anderer – das ist was ich vorziehe".
    "Das Lernen" is correct, but not more general. The split sentence "... – das ist, was ich vorziehe" (note the missing comma) might be rhetorically interesting in some cases, but is not a proper, flowing sentence. This sounds more like a speech with intentional pauses and emphasis, but not like a general remark.

    Ich ziehe es (in diesem Fall) vor, aus den Erfahrungen anderer zu lernen, statt alles neu zu probieren.
    If you want to focus on "specific case" vs "general remark", then "vorziehen, etwas zu tun" is not the phrase of choice for the specific case. Your suggestion just sounds very general. There is nothing specific about it.
     

    harakiri

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Boyar, it's a good view to explain. Thanks. I needed to ask this question as you reply. :)

    Hutschi, "t depends on context." That's what I wanted to know. Danke! ;)

    Schlabberlatz, thank you for your encouragement. :oops: I ignored the English word "prefer", but guys rescued me well.
     
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