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I’m watching “Deutschland 83”, and one of the characters said “Du musst geh nach Berlin”, which confused me because I had always learned that modal verbs always kicked the second verb to the end of the sentence as “Du musst nach Berlin gehen”.

I was hoping someone could explain this exception; I expect that it has do do with the imperative/ordering nature of the sentence.

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    “Du musst geh nach Berlin” is not correct. Maybe they said “Du musst gehen, nach Berlin”.
    – AlexE
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 1:46
  • Okay, i'll go back and watch it again. Thanks
    – rob brown
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 2:01
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    Or perhaps it was "Du musst, geh nach Berlin" (=You have to, go to Berlin).
    – Ingmar
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 11:09
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    I'd also think that the colloquial version of the sentence du musst nach Berlin gehen would be du musst nach Berlin, simply leaving out gehen since nach implies it.
    – Austinh1
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:40

1 Answer 1

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The phrase is not correct. The correct meaning would be — as you said — “Du musst nach Berlin gehen.”

The mentioned variant with a comma, as in “Du musst gehen, nach Berlin”, could technically be used, but it’s rare. Here you would probably say “Du musst nach Berlin gehen” as well, which is much simpler in its construction and more commonly used.

However, given that it was supposed to mean indeed “Du musst gehen, nach Berlin”, then the first part of the sentence would indicate that the person has to go, while after the comma in an addition, German Nebensatz the location is added, which might have been forgotton in the first place and is hastily added now.

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    Actually, Du musst gehen, nach Berlin is perfectly standard spoken German. It’s only unusual (= highly marked) in written German.
    – Crissov
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 10:14
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    @Crissov: I don't think I would ever use the sentence like this deliberately even in spoken German, unless - as BenjB pointed out - I forgot to mention the "place" and wanted to add it without starting a new sentence. But I do not think I would ever "plan" to add the "place"-information this way.
    – Gerhard
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 10:41
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    @Gerhard The amount and depth of “planning“ is probably the most important reason for differences in the literal and oral registers of languages.
    – Crissov
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 12:12
  • What do you mean by a German Nebensatz? It implies something inherently German and if I had to guess, you are using it in a derogative way. Please elaborate.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:33
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    At least in south Germany, it was perfectly normally to put prepositional phrases at the end of the sentence. In fact, I was specifically told this by my host family, because I sounded too formal. Granted, putting prepositional phrases at the end of a sentence is much more common in larger sentences, and in this specific case I'd pretty much always use the normal du musst nach Berlin gehen.
    – Austinh1
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:38

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