Unit 11: Infinitive Usages

3. Common Infinitive Constructions

As is true for all dependent constructions, including the infinitive clauses described above, it is helpful to remember that German abides by two rules that give you visual cues about the structure of sentences:

  1. All dependent constructions, whether clauses or phrases, are separated from main clauses by a comma or commas.
  2. Verbs stand in final position in dependent clauses and phrases.

There are three prepositions that in infinitive clauses take on special but commonly used meanings:

  1. um . . . zu + infinitive = “in order to”

    Sie lernt fleißig, um das Examen zu bestehen.
    She studies hard in order to pass the exam.

  2. ohne . . . zu + infinitive = “without” + present participle.

    Wir sind nach Frankreich gereist, ohne Paris zu besuchen.
    We travelled to France without visiting Paris.

  3. anstatt (sometimes statt) . . . zu + infinitive = “instead of” + present participle.

    Anstatt zu arbeiten, sind wir ins Kino gegangen.
    Instead of working we went to the cinema (movies).


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