In my German essay I intended to say that Sunday should be a day for relaxing and another verb in my language that is translated as "relaxing", too.

I wrote:

Ein Sonntag sollte einen Tag für relaxieren (relaxen?) und sich zu ausruhen sein.

If you ignore the fact that relaxieren and sich ausruhen have the same meaning, this sentence sounds correct to me. I connected sollte and sein at the end, zu stands between sich and ausruhen because I feel that the modal sollte is kinda forgotten at this point and für covered the verb relaxieren to express some sort of intention.

My question is: Does this sentence sounds good to you, even though the zu part refers only to ausruhen and not relaxieren?

Is ausruhen trennbar? Should it be sich auszuruhen instead?

3 Answers 3


Ein Sonntag sollte einen Tag für relaxieren (relaxen?) und sich zu ausruhen sein.

There are several problems with your sentence:

Two nouns are connected by the verb sein; here, both nouns should be in the nominative case, because sein uses a so-called Gleichsetzungsnominativ (equalisation nominative):

Ein Sonntag (subject, nominative) sollte ein Tag (object, nominative) ... sein.

The verb relaxieren does exist; however, it is used primarily in a scientific context. For example, it can be an adequate verb for relaxing muscles. It is not used in a context describing people who relieve stress. In colloquial speech you can use the German verb relaxen (English pronunciation + German -en). A more formal word would be sich entspannen.

You can use different constructions to express what Sunday should be a day for:

  • zum X-en: Ein Sonntag sollte ein Tag zum Entspannen und (zum) Ausruhen sein.
  • um + zu: Ein Sonntag sollte ein Tag sein, um sich zu entspannen und (um) sich auszuruhen.
  • für das X-en: Ein Sonntag sollte ein Tag fürs Entspannen und (fürs) Ausruhen sein.
  • ...

As you can see, if you choose the zu variant, there should be a zu attached to both infinitives. I'm quite sure there are more valid possibilities to form a correct sentence.

As you have guessed, sich ausruhen is a separable verb (ich ruhe mich aus, not ich ausruhe mich) and thus, the zu + infinitive form should be sich auszuruhen.

Whether you use Ein Sonntag or Der Sonntag or Sonntag is a matter of taste and conveys different degrees of definiteness; I don't want to go too much in detail as this could be worth another question.


The correct way is:

Sonntag sollte ein Tag zum Entspannen und Ausruhen sein.
  • you wouldn't necessarily say "Ein Sonntag" but just "Sonntag" when referring to this day in general.
  • to relax in German is also "entspannen"
  • I changed the structure to make it grammatically correct
  1. I'd go with the definite article; or none at all.
  2. Relaxieren does not exist. It's relaxen.
  3. Für is not the proper preposition here, but zum.
  4. You don't need the reflexive sich. You can add it, though.
  5. After the preposition zum (and für for that matter), the verb 'functions' as substantive. Zu, however, is part of the infinitive, so you need to drop it.
  6. When using sein it's like the = sign in mathematics. In a sentence both parts must be in the same grammatical case when connected with to be.

Der Sonntag sollte ein Tag zum Relaxen und (sich) Ausruhen sein.

You can rephrase the sentence a bit and use um, followed by an infinitive clause. Or a relative clause, with the indefinite pronoun "man". Then, of course, you need to conjugate the verbs (third person).

Der Sonntag sollte ein Tag sein, um zu relaxen und sich auszuruhen.
Der Sonntag sollte ein Tag sein, an dem man relaxt und sich ausruht.

  • relaxieren does exist but isn't used in this context.
    – Chris
    Oct 13, 2014 at 17:44
  • @Chris Didn't know that word and any reliable sources do not list it either. I checked that before posting; I just read your answer afterwards. I'm sure you're right on that, but I'm not going to change my statement. It's unlikely that a native speaker will ever hear that word, let alone a language learner. So, there's nothing wrong with pretending this word doesn't exist at all.
    – Em1
    Oct 13, 2014 at 17:52
  • I haven't found it in a dictionary either; however I have heard it several times in scientific (anatomical) context and there are some google hits for "Darm relaxiert" or "Muskulatur relaxiert". But very sparse; okay, let's pretend it didn't exist^^ :-)
    – Chris
    Oct 13, 2014 at 18:00

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