I am writing a German oral for school and am trying to add the sentence

My parents will not allow me to watch TV.

However one site said I should write it

Meine Eltern werden mich nicht zu fernsehen erlauben.

I think the above sentence is right because the werden still sends erlauben to the end of the sentence, so it shouldn’t really matter, at least to me, what goes in between. However, I am sure there is a better way word a sentence like this. I am beginning to use these ‘three verb sentences’ more often and am trying to do them the right way. Is the above method OK?

  • Thanks a lot for your edit. As you can see from the upvotes you’re getting, this question is a lot better now =)
    – Jan
    May 20, 2015 at 11:29
  • Note that if you're expressing a habitual sense rather than a literal future tense (which it sounds as if you might be), the proper translation would be "Meine Eltern lassen mich nie fernsehen". May 21, 2015 at 6:40

2 Answers 2


You seem to be having a pretty good idea of what goes where. Werden, being the finite verb, needs to occupy the second position, and sends erlauben to the end of the sentence. The infinitive construction, however, is required to be even behind the verb at the end, in the so-called Nachfeld.

There are two possible ways of saying to watch TV; you seem to be mixing them together creating an uncommon way of phrasing it. You can either say Fernsehen schauen or fernsehen. Together with the infinitive-zu, these turn into Fernsehen zu schauen (no questions there, usually) or fern zu sehen (that one’s a separable verb).
Instead of fernsehen you can also say fernschauen (fern zu schauen). Which variant is preferred depends on the region.

And finally, although that one’s really minor and not entirely relevant to the question, jemandem etwas erlauben requires a dative object for the person receiving (or not) permission.

So one way of wording the sentence would be:

Meine Eltern werden mir nicht erlauben, fern zu sehen.

But German has — as you probably know — a very flexible word order. The following sentences are also correct and only represent a subset of all possible ones:

Fern zu sehen werden mir meine Eltern nicht erlauben.
Mir werden meine Eltern nicht erlauben, fern zu sehen.

And of course, the same excersize can be excersized with Fernsehen zu schauen:

Meine Eltern werden mir nicht erlauben, Fernsehen zu schauen.
Fernsehen zu schauen werden mir meine Eltern nicht erlauben.
Mir werden meine Eltern nicht erlauben, Fernsehen zu schauen.

Unfortunately, having the infinitive right before the erlauben of the future tense is not possible according to my sprachgefuhl.

Meine Eltern werden mir nicht fern zu sehen erlauben.


For translating complex sentences to German an always heplful approach is to chunk the original into logical sentence parts. This is where we human beings always will be better than any robot translator.

We can then work on the individual parts much better (and even a machine translation will give us better results for the chunks).

My parents...

Meine Eltern (the subject)

... will not allow me ...

werden mir nicht erlauben (future tense with mir as the dative object)

... to watch TV.

Fernsehen zu schauen. (Fernsehen is the accusative object)

Note that in the resulting sub-parts the word order may follow rules different to the original language, and sometimes our translation attempts will not be very idiomatic. But they will be understood because the logic behind our sentence will stay intact.

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