In "Lehr- und Übungsbuch der deutschen Grammatik", I found some sentences:

Ich fürchte, dass ich bald entlassen werde.
Ich fürchte, bald entlassen zu werden.
Sie hofft, dass sie vom Bahnhof abgeholt wird.
Sie hofft vom Bahnhof abgeholt zu werden.

Das Komma vor der Infinitivkonstruktion ist nach der Rechtschreibreform nicht mehr obligatorisch, es kann aber [...] stehenbleiben.
[...] Es muss stehenbleiben, wenn die Infinitivkonstruktion [...] im übergeordneten Satz durch ein Bezugswort angekündigt ist.

I would like to know

  • do you think a "can-rule" is ever a good idea? (I know this question is a little bit general, but I would like to know your opinions.)
  • would it be correct to write

Ich fürchte dass ich bald entlassen werde.

  • can you give me an example for the last sentence of the comment? ("Es muss stehenbleiben, ...")
  • 7
    If I recall correctly, there should always be a comma before "dass."
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 18:22
  • 1
    @Kevin: Unless it is "so dass" (though Duden for some reason prefers "sodass" anyway) ;) Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


1) Yes, it is a good idea to have a "can-rule". First, people who are used to the old rule make fewer mistakes, second, you can structure your sentence with the additional comma and third, most important, you can avoid misunderstandings with this rule:

Wir empfehlen ihm zu folgen.

This could mean:

Wir empfehlen, ihm zu folgen.


Wir empfehlen ihm, zu folgen.

2) There is always a comma before "dass", so no, it is not correct.

3) If you use „als", „anstatt", „außer", „ohne", „statt" or „um", you have to set a comma.

See this grammar rule, scroll to "Regel 116" and "Regel 117".

  • Good point. This makes sense. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 19:00
  • 2
    In 1) you point out the advantages of allowing the comma to be there. But what is the advantage of allowing it to be omitted?
    – AndreKR
    Commented Dec 4, 2011 at 4:28
  • 1
    @AndreKR: Follow my link. For "simple" sentences like "Wir zweifeln nicht daran zu gewinnen" it does not make a difference if there is a comma or not. I would put a comma there, because I'm used to do it. But many people think it's superfluous there. Commented Dec 4, 2011 at 13:58
  • There is no “can-rule” in the Neue Rechtschreibung. “Wir empfehlen, ihm zu folgen.” is wrong. Please see this excellent tutorial (which also explains why the Duden is wrong about there being 32 rules: there is only one).
    – cgnieder
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 21:12
  • Well, @Clemens, I disagree. See section E:2,c) in pub.ids-mannheim.de/laufend/sprachreport/pdf/sr11-extra.pdf Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 1:07

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