I have just come across this sentence which does sound a bit awkward and heavy to my mind.

Die Schüler sind nicht verpflichtet, eine Schuluniform zu tragen. Sie können sich kleiden, wie sie möchten.

Can we in this example postpone the main verb kleiden till after saying wie sie möchten?

  • 3
    There is nothing awkward or heavy at all about these sentences. They are as normal as they can come.
    – user22484
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 14:14
  • I don't understand your question. What exactly do you think is awkward or heavy? Please edit your question and add a paragraph where you tell us what you think would be less awkward and heavy. How would you have written this sentence? Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 9:40
  • In English, nobody would say "They can as they like dress". The same in German: the sentence "Sie können sich wie sie möchten ankleiden" sounds awkward; the sentence as written above does not. Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can, but the cited form sounds less awkward than your proposed shift. The German Verbklammer is deeply ingrained in our sense for language, but even we Germans tend to avoid interrupting it with an entire relative clause.

  • The awkwardness comes IMHO from the two infinitives following each other directly and would be generally considered bad style.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 10:41

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