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I was sure that

Ich habe vor, die Hausaufgabe machen anzufangen.

was right. Nevertheless I've heard

Ich habe vor, die Hausaufgabe anfangen zu machen.

from a good source.

  • Assuming that one is wrong, which is the right one?
  • If both are right, do they differ by meaning?
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Both are wrong. It is „vorhaben, etwas zu tun“, so the „anfangen“ needs a „zu“, which is why the second variant is wrong. So we are at

Ich habe vor, [...] anzufangen.

Next, it is „anfangen, etwas zu tun“, so again the „die Hausaufgaben machen“ needs a „zu“:

Ich habe vor, anzufangen, die Hausaufgaben zu machen.

Now German is somewhat liberal regarding word order, and

Ich habe vor, die Hausaufgaben zu machen anzufangen.

is also ok.

Now this is a bit complicated, one might want to avoid the „machen“ altogether:

Ich habe vor, die Hausaufgaben anzufangen.

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1  
There are many possible variations. Personally, I'd prefer: Ich habe vor, mit der Hausaufgabe anzufangen. –  chirlu Aug 22 '13 at 22:48
    
Yes, that is also what I would say. Just when I wanted to write it down I was not so sure anymore. –  Carsten Schultz Aug 22 '13 at 22:50
1  
Genau, ein(!) „zu“ hattest Du vergessen ;) –  Carsten Schultz Aug 23 '13 at 0:14
1  
Ich habe vor, die Hausaufgaben zu machen anzufangen... I wouldn'T call this correct. Technically it might be. However, the sentence sounds grammatically and semantically concluded after "zu machen". Habe vor has it's complement and so does "machen". hence, our brain is done processing and ready for a new sentence and only then the second, the real compliment comes and we have to reevaluate everything (grammar, meaning) .And while this might sometimes be desirable for stylistic reasons, here it is even made worse by the double zu back to back "zu machen anzufangen". This sounds bad. So: not ok –  Emanuel Aug 23 '13 at 9:54
1  
@Carsten Schultz: It took me about 4 seconds to understand the Nacht-line which is fine for a word play but annoying when just due to bad style. When sung or said things might be easier but in writing pronunciation is of no help. Also, if someone had to read out aloud the sentence in question he or she would most certainly stumble at that very point if the text is new to the reader. I stand by my statement but I gave you +1 anyway so now everyone can decide for themselves how "wrong" it really is :) –  Emanuel Aug 23 '13 at 11:54
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