As far as I know, kennen is to know somebody and lernen means to learn Then why do you use kennenzulernen to say nice to meet?

  • 1
    Actually, this question is not a duplicate, as MAKZ is not asking how to say "Nice to meet you", but why it is "kennenzulernen", as in his understanding it is double "to know". Please re-open. – Thorsten Dittmar Mar 14 '14 at 8:35
  • I hesitate to reopen because the very premise is just wrong. Lernen does not mean "to know", as a dictionary of OP's choice will be quick to point out. So the question right now amounts to "why do people say 'red car', if 'car' means 'car' and 'red' also means 'car'?" – RegDwight Mar 15 '14 at 12:48
  • @RegDwight question updated – MAKZ Mar 15 '14 at 13:36
  • Ich dachte immer "nice to meet you" bedeute "Nett, dich getroffen zu haben" und man könne es auch zu Leuten sagen, die man schon lange kennt. – user unknown Mar 17 '14 at 5:23
  • @RegDwight Maybe so, but then the reason for closing the question is still wrong. It just isn't a duplicate of the question quoted. – Thorsten Dittmar Mar 17 '14 at 12:27

kennen = to know, lernen = to learn

The verb kennenlernen, however, has the meaning to meet, even though it looks like it is a combination of kennen and lernen (which is definitely its origin, but it is used as one word today).

The original meaning can be guessed from the word by word translation

Schön, Sie kennen zu lernen (or kennenzulernen)
Nice to learn/to get to know you

The actual translation, however, is simply Nice to meet you.

PS: kennenzulernen is a so called "erweiterter Infititiv". You can see this in other verbs, too. Examples:

Es ist Zeit, auszusteigen (aus dem Zug)
It's time to get off (the train)

Bitte denke daran, die Tür abzuschließen
Please remember to lock the door

This is also called Infinitiv mit "zu". Examples:

aussteigen => auszusteigen
weggehen => wegzugehen
stehen => zu stehen


kennen zu lernen means lern = means getting to know or learning to know somebody

if you twist it around lernen zu kennen, it makes more sense

you are learning to know somebody. learning by observation and interaction that is.

and the nice part is just saying: nice or schön Sie kennenzulernen

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