11

I would like to know which ones of these sentences are grammatically correct in German:

  1. Ich darf meinen Hund in den Park mitnehmen.

oder

  1. Ich darf meinen Hund mit in den Park nehmen.

Also which one of these:

  1. Der Hund darf mit in den Park kommen.

oder

  1. Der Hund darf in den Park mitkommen.

  • 8
    Frankly, all of them. – Ralph M. Rickenbach Nov 23 '15 at 12:28
  • 3
    As a native speaker I'd say both are equally correct. I can't give you a gramatical reason, though. :-) – Thomas Stets Nov 23 '15 at 12:29
  • 1
    Also correct is "Der Hund darf mit", but not "Ich darf meinen Hund mit". – Em1 Nov 23 '15 at 12:56
7

They are all perfectly fine. In English there is a relatively clear distinction between the following phenomena:

  1. plain verbs with adverbial phrases, as in “due to the rain he is going under the bridge”
  2. phrasal verbs as in “the boat is slowly going under”
  3. prefix verbs as in “the building is undergoing renovation”

Nevertheless, it is possible for a construction in one of these classes to be used so much in a specific context that it ossifies, can be used much more generally/abstractly than before, and moves on one step down on the list — often from 1 to 2, not so often from 2 to 3.

German has the same system with a slight twist:

  1. plain verbs with adverbial phrases, as in “ich ziehe meinen Hund unter die Wasseroberfläche / ich habe meinen Hund unter die Wasseroberfläche gezogen” (draw under …)
  2. separable verbs as in “ich ziehe das Strychnin in den Plätzchenteig unter / ich habe das Strychnin in den Plätzchenteig untergezogen” (fold in)
  3. prefix verbs as in “ich unterziehe mich einer Rosskur / ich habe mich einer Rosskur unterzogen” (subject oneself to)

The slight twist is that the non-finite forms (infinitives and participles) of German phrasal verbs are written as single words, and since this is not the case for the finite forms, these words are known as separable verbs. But just like in English, popular constructions can move downward in the list. Whenever that happens, for a while, both constructions are possible in the relevant contexts.

What you have found is contexts in which you have free choice between interpreting mit kommen / mitkommen and mit nehmen / mitnehmen as plain verbs with an elliptical adverbial phrase (the preposition mit without any referent) on one hand and as separable verbs on the other hand. I guess we can think of the first option as option 1.5 on the list — an intermediate state while the construction is moving from 1 to 2. I am sure similar observations can be made in English, though I can’t think of a good example right now.

  • Nice example you chose, I didn’t even know the second meaning of unterziehen. Remind me never to eat cake when I’m at your place ;) – Jan Nov 24 '15 at 12:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.