1

The lyrics of Rammstein’s Du hast contain the following lines:

Willst du bis zum Tod, der scheidet,
sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen?

So sie lieben in the second line means to love her, but why is it in an infinitive form? Is it actually a continuation of the first line? If not, wouldn’t it be sie zu lieben? Or does sie lieben simply by itself mean to love her?

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  • I am thankful for your detailed answer Stephie, if you don't mind me asking, will adding "zum" after "bis" make any difference rather if I were to leave it as simply "bis der Tod"? – RandomUser Jun 8 '15 at 16:10
  • @RandomUser If you say ‘Willst du bis der Tod …’, you can’t continue with ‘der scheidet’, because the sentence structure is now different. It would have to be ‘bis der Tod euch scheidet’. There are some interesting differences: The bis changes from (part of) a preposition to a subordinating conjunction, so that subordinate clause needs a verb (here: scheiden). With bis zum Tod, it is possible to omit the der scheidet without changing much, because it is an independent relative clause. The sie lieben following willst du would not be affected, though. – Jan Jun 9 '15 at 11:36
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Typically the wedding vows would be a variety of the lines

Willst du sie lieben und ehren (...) in guten wie in bösen Tagen, (in Gesundheit und Krankheit, in Reichtum und Armut ...) bis dass der Tod euch scheidet?

Grammar-wise this boils down to

Willst du sie lieben?

with lieben in infinitive because it belongs to the flexed verb wollen in the first position of the question.

More prosaic examples following the same pattern would be (randomly chosen):

Willst du fernsehen?
Sollen wir aufbrechen?
Kannst du aufstehen?

Now, when in your example the until death do us part has shifted its position (at the back is just customary), this does not influence the original meaning. Let's call the willst du sie lieben ... part A and bis zum Tod, der scheidet / bis der Tod euch scheidet B for simplicity.

Then you could either use the sequence A-B (as above), invert to B-A (albeit sounding a bit akward, but let's call it literary freedom) or even split A into A1 and A2 and stuff B into the middle, separated by two commas, leaving you with:

Willst du (A1), bis dass der Tod euch scheidet (B), sie lieben (A2) ...?

Which is the pattern of your question.

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  • Okay, okay, you were faster. again. And more verbatim. :-) – Burki Jun 8 '15 at 14:22
  • Same in English: "Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others remain loyal to her as long as you both shall live? " – Takkat Jun 8 '15 at 14:25

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