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I was asked by a friend if the "Infinitiv mit zu" specifically come from the Berlin region because most of his friends who use it that way come from that area.

Since I wasn't raised in the Berlin area and (afair) used that "Infinitiv mit zu" long time before I moved there, I would deny that. According to the German Wikipedia entry "Berlinsche Grammatik", that specific usage seems to be very popular there.

So my primary question is: Does anyone know where that "Infinitiv mit zu" originally comes from and if it is specific for a special German region? (And my secondary question: Is it a sign of bad grammar if you use the "Infinitiv mit zu"?)

Examples (taken from this Q/A which basically answers my question):

  • "Du hast deinen Taschenrechner noch bei mir zu liegen."
  • "Wenn Sie dort also die Summenformel zu stehen haben, [...]"
  • "Sie hat einen Schrank im Zimmer zu stehen."
  • "Wir haben noch ein Bier zu verkaufen."
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marked as duplicate by Vogel612, lejonet, Emanuel, Carsten S, Dustin Feb 17 '14 at 22:51

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

One or two examples would be great, so that everyone knows what the "Infinitiv mit zu" actually means. – MCL Feb 17 '14 at 10:26
Apparently you do not refer to what I would normally call an „Infinitiv mit zu“, e.g. „Ich vor, einen Koffer zu stehlen.“, but to the construction „Ich habe einen Koffer in Berlin zu stehen.“ instead of „Ich habe einen Koffer in Berlin stehen.“ You should clarify this. – Carsten S Feb 17 '14 at 11:13
If this is the case, then I actually asked the same question after you without even realizing – Emanuel Feb 17 '14 at 11:53
Also here:… – Daniel Feb 17 '14 at 12:18
@Daniel: Great, that answers my question quite well. – Gottlieb Notschnabel Feb 17 '14 at 12:40

3 Answers 3

I'm from Bavaria and we never use "Infinitiv mit zu", it sounds absolutely wrong to me. But I do have a friend, that uses "Infinitiv mit zu" - she is from Berlin, so I think it is a dialect thing.

And to answer your second question: yes I think it is a sign of bad grammar, when you use "Infinitiv mit zu", especially if you aren't in Berlin or that area.

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I agree, but it'd still consider it wrong in standard German. It's definitely a dialect thing. – Ingmar Feb 17 '14 at 18:14
It is misleading to speak here simply of zu-infinitive. In German most verbs are connected with zu + infinitive. For the agrammatical use of the zu-infinitive in the Berlin dialect there should be a special name so that one knows what is what. The Berlin dialect has a wrong use of zu + infinitive. – rogermue Feb 17 '14 at 21:34

I find the question not uninteresting. Where from this wrong use of zu+infinitive in the Berlin dialect? And there is another feature of Berlin dialect, mixing up "mir" and "mich". I think there is no clear answer for such things. Maybe these peculiarities of the Berlin dialect are due du neighbouring influences, perhaps even due to influences of old Prussian. But I don't know anything about that language.

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This is not an answer. – Carsten S Feb 18 '14 at 17:42

I would say the "Infinitiv mit zu" is neither special to the Berlin region nor bad grammar.

There are many examples where that phrase comes into play..

Here's a quote from the German Duden..

Infinitiv mit zu Werden Infinitive mit zu erweitert, stellt sich oft die Frage nach der Getrennt- oder Zusammenschreibung. Hierzu gibt es eine ganz klare Regel: Wird die Grundform eines trennbaren Verbs (also etwa: weglaufen, zusammenarbeiten, aufblühen etc.) zusammengeschrieben, muss grundsätzlich auch die Erweiterung mit zu so behandelt werden. Es hat keinen Sinn, vor allem und jedem wegzulaufen. Es blieb ihr nichts anderes übrig, als stumm zuzuhören. Das Beste wäre es, jetzt erst mal zusammenzuarbeiten.

Vorsicht ist geboten bei Verben, die nicht trennbar sind; hier steht zu für sich, die Verbform wird ohnehin immer zusammengeschrieben: Sie entschlossen sich, jeglichen Kontakt zu unterbinden. Wird die zugrunde liegende Verbverbindung getrennt geschrieben, so ist die Erweiterung mit zu in drei Wörtern zu schreiben: Pünktlich da zu sein[,] ist oberstes Gebot. Es stünde dir gut an, ausnahmsweise mal Rücksicht zu nehmen.

I hope my example points this out.

The "Infinitiv mit zu" can be used to describe things you usually do or like or whatever.

"I don't like cleaning up my room." --> "Ich mag es nicht mein Zimmer aufzuräumen."

"Ich hasse es wegzulaufen." --> "I hate running away."

But it can also be used to describe things you're doing right now.

"I started reading" --> "Ich habe begonnen zu lesen."

And with that sentence you see the exception from the rule. It is also described in the second part from my Duden quote. Words that can not be split up like "lesen" must not be used in a compound with 'zu'.

And that matches all the words from your examples.

zu stehen

zu liegen

zu verkaufen

But on 'verkaufen' applies another special rule because the word itself can be split up in 'ver-' and 'kaufen' but nobody would say 'verzukaufen'. it just sounds ridiculous.

Hope I could help a little

P.S.: Never listen to Bavarians.. They don't even speak German ;)

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None of your examples fits those of the question. – Carsten S Feb 17 '14 at 19:26
Your examples are correct, but not what we're discussing here. – Ingmar Feb 17 '14 at 20:38
With my quote from "Duden" (similar to Oxford English Dictionary for english language) there is proof for "Infinitiv mit zu" not to be a dialect or rigional thing! It's german grammar. It originates from the language itself. Both questions answered. – IlikePepsi Feb 17 '14 at 21:03
No-one doubts that there is an „Infinitiv mit zu“, but that is not what the OP was interested in. The question was just worded a bit unfortunately. – Carsten S Feb 18 '14 at 12:25

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