I've encountered three usages of a unter Kontrolle + verb construction. Are all three correct? For example:

Sie haben alles getan, um das Feuer unter Kontrolle zu bringen.

This is a sentence taken from a dictionary. In this sentence, can we use nehmen or halten instead of bringen? If the answer is no, could you please explain why?


1 Answer 1


The verb describes what you "do" - therefore bringen and halten indicate two different concepts.

Let's use a burning house as an example. Extinguishing a fire is more than randomly spraying water on it. It's a process that can take many hours, during which the firecrew stops the fire's expansion and decreases the burning area until the fire is completely extinguished.

  • When a house is on fire and the firemen arrive at the scene, their first goal is to make sure the fire does not expand and they can start extinguish the fire in a controlled fashion. They have to gain control, in German

    Das Feuer unter Kontrolle bringen.

  • During the actual process of extinguishing, they decrease the burning area while making sure that no random sparks or unobserved parts allow for re-ignition or even expansion of the fire, they keep it under control, in German

    Das Feuer unter Kontrolle halten.

Nehmen is rarely used with Kontrolle, it would typically be übernehmen, which is a switch in responsibility. The full construction is

die Kontrolle (über accusative) (von dative) übernehmen

In your previous example, a second crew can take over after a certain time. It typically involves some kind of hand-over.

  • 1
    "Unter Kontrolle nehmen" wird durchaus verwendet. Googletreffer zeigen, dass es Anwendung findet, wenn es darum geht ein Land oder eine Grenze unter Kontrolle zu nehmen.
    – Em1
    Jul 6, 2016 at 7:32
  • @Em1 but definetively the odd one out: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Stephie
    Jul 6, 2016 at 9:20

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