I saw this sentence in one of the Hueber books:

Ich brauchte nur mein Zimmer in Ordnung halten.

I want to know why we don't need "zu" before the verb "halten".

  • related (in German): german.stackexchange.com/questions/1591/…
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 15:45
  • 1
    More closely related is this answer: german.stackexchange.com/a/8801 (The answer, unlike the question, is in English; best to ignore the question anyway, the answer doesn’t really address it.)
    – chirlu
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 2:35
  • 1
    Streng nach Lehrbuch ist das ein Fehler. Es müßte heißen in Ordnung zu halten. Im Alltag lassen viele Deutsche das zu weg. Brauchen wird dann genauso benutzt wie müssen, nämlich ohne zu. Für mich ist das kein Fehler. Man muß bedenken, daß Hochdeutsch eine künstliche Klammer zur Integration der deutschen Dialekte ist und viele sogenannte Fehler in Wahrheit nur Regionalismen sind, also Reste der natürlichen Dialekte, welche die Schule ausmerzen soll.
    – Lumi
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 13:05
  • thinking about this sentence in English, I noticed it also works both with and without "zu", i.e. using and infinitive clause: cf. "I needed only TO keep my room straight/tidy/in order" and "I needed only keep my room straight". The second simply sounds a little more old-fashioned, and in my opinion nicer in story telling. However, I would say the former is more common in every day usage. Can anyone else explain if they see the German in a similar way?
    – n1k31t4
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 12:02
  • I see it same way for the German.
    – Rudi
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


The correct form would be "in Ordnung zu halten."

However, many Germans leave out the "zu" and just go without it. Even though maybe not 100% correct it still works and is pretty common in every day use. In addition, as said above, in this case "in Ordnung" is used as an adjective.

Also, thinking about it, I think it is something we treat pretty unconscious. I used to tell my daughter "Hilfst du mir kochen?" while here as well "zu" would be correct. So at the end, I suppose both ways work fine and probably nobody would even notice you leaving out the "zu" if you are not happen to talk to a German teacher or are at school. :=)

  • 2
    Der Satz »Hilfst du mir kochen?« ist völlig korrekt. An die Verben lernen, lehren und helfen kann ein Infinitiv sowohl mit als auch ohne zu angefügt werden: »Ich lerne schwimmen«; »Ich lerne zu schwimmen«; »Ich helfe dir tragen«; »Ich helfe dir zu tragen«. Commented May 28, 2017 at 10:36

From my perspective it is a question of the authors personal style of writing. It does work in this case, because leaving the "zu" is not too far off. It could be some sort of personal signature. There might be a highly linguistic explaination from a proper German teacher (which I'm not).

To confirm my assumption, the only way to find out I think is to just read more from him and see if he uses more stylistic methods like this.

Edit: "in Ordnung" is used as an adjective which is used in order to describe the condition of the room.

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