Here's the sentence that I want to translate:

He apologized to her for breaking her heart.

The verbs that I'm using are:

sich bei jdm für etwas entschuldigen

jdm das Herz brechen

Here's what I've come up with:

Er hat sich bei ihr für das Herz Brechen entschuldigt.

As you can see, I wasn't able to use the jemandem part in jdm das Herz brechen. I also wanted to ask that which preposition would come first, bei or für.

1 Answer 1


Er hat sich bei ihr für das Herz Brechen entschuldigt.

is not correct as Herz Brechen are technically just two unlinked words with no meaning.

The normal way to say your original sentence is:

Er hat sich bei ihr dafür entschuldigt, dass er ihr das Herz gebrochen hat.

Translating participle clauses (for breaking...) form English sentences directly is often not possible or more difficult. You could say:

Er hat sich bei ihr für das Brechen ihres Herzens entschuldigt.

But that’s more or less a literal translation and not good German. We have nominalized jdm das Herz brechen to das Brechen ihres Herzens and nominalization is generally not considered good style (and reminds of instruction manuals).

  • Thank you. But what about the order of the prepositions? does the dative preposition always come before the accusative as it does in this example? Nov 21, 2016 at 13:18
  • @ali_runnindis Normally dative objects come before accusative objects, yes. But if you want to stress the dative you can also change the order like for example "Ich habe den ganzen Schatz meinem Großvater gegeben". Here, the accusative is stressed.
    – idmean
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:20
  • 1
    @ali_runnindis The order is quite a complex topic. "Always" is certainly always a wrong claim when it comes to especially the German language. Anyway, "Er hat sich für das Brechen ihres Herzens bei ihr entschuldigt" is equally fine. In German there are not really rules but rather tendencies. I leave it to someone else to give proper explanations, but I think there are also quite a few question here on that site addressing that question.
    – Em1
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:21

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