Intuitively I would use a dass-Nebensatz (among other possibilities) as the object of vorschlagen. In English (as well as in my native language), this is a common construction:

I suggest that you try it again.

However, I can’t find a similar usage in German. For example, dass doesn’t appear on DWDS’s entry for vorschlagen at all.

A translation of the above sentence to German could be:

Ich schlage dir vor, es noch mal zu versuchen.

But a more similar translation would be:

Ich schlage vor, dass du es noch mal versuchst.

Two things disturb me:

  1. Is it proper German at all, grammatically and stylistically?

  2. Is the usage of the present indicative in the subordinate clause appropriate? I somehow “feel” that it needs a different mood or a modal verb.

  • You're feeling is wrong. All fine with that second sentence, and BTW even more idiomatic than the first one. The "Nebensatz" is, however, not "the object" of the sentence. It simply functions like one.
    – tofro
    Dec 2, 2016 at 18:09
  • @tofro What is the difference between being an object and functioning like one?
    – amirdeq
    Dec 3, 2016 at 11:58
  • Normally, you'd drive a nail into a piece of wood using a hammer. You could use some other tools to do it ("functioning as one"), that would still not be a hammer. The standard, strict definition of an "object" in German kids learn at school is "substantive or pronoun in accusative or dative" (some grammars allow "Nominativobjekt", but that's disputable). Everything else functions as an object in my world if it takes the place of an object in the sentence. But that may be nitpicking.
    – tofro
    Dec 3, 2016 at 12:14

3 Answers 3


I totally agree with @idmean's answer and @tofro's comment about the perfectly valid German of both sentences! But I want to add some precision and my own experience about the use of these two alternatives (it's a bit too long for a comment).

Short summary

  1. Ich schlage dir vor, es noch mal zu versuchen.

  2. Ich schlage vor, dass du es noch mal versuchst.

Both sentences are equal in the the everyday language, so both are valid in German and you can use them as (almost) equal (see below for further information).

To answer your second question: The present indicative in the first sentence is correct! You have nothing to add to or change on this.

Some thoughts about the usage

I disagree with @idmean and would say, the first one isn't uncommon (albeit not as common as the second one). Apart from me using this sentence quite often, I read and hear it on a regular basis. But maybe, this is a difference between verbal regions.
I would even claim the first one more elegant, as it is a bit shorter (so no unnecessary information). Some texts contain many sentences with dass, so it could be an alternative to avoid repetitions.

Small difference in the semantics

In the second person, this isn't a big deal, as you address to the person, the subordinate clause is related to.

But if you change it to the third person, you may see a difference:

  1. Ich schlage ihr vor, es noch mal zu versuchen.

    You say that you suggest to her to try it again.

  2. Ich schlage vor, dass sie es noch mal versuchst.

    You suggest that she gives it another try, but it's not clear, whether you suggest it directly to her or to some other person.

Again, this isn't a problem with your sentences at all. And I have to admit, this is a more theoretical difference. In everyday life, this makes no difference, as it gets clear with the context.

  • 1
    Interesting difference in the third person, but you could as well also say: "Ich schlage ihr vor, dass sie es nochmal versucht" and the diference is gone. Thus I don't believe that the difference lies in the construction of the subordinate clause, but in the presence of the pronoun in the dative case in the main clause
    – Beta
    Dec 3, 2016 at 7:17

Both you questions can be answered with a clear yes: it is fine both from a grammatical and a stylistic perspective to use the subordinate clause and also the mood is the correct one. Concerning the second question, you could indeed use subjunctive II mood. However, the suggestion in itself is already only a suggestion, so there is no need to further mark it as a potentiality by using subjunctive II. In fact, using a subjunctive typically sounds much more like an overkill and indicative is typically preferred.

Of course, you can add a different modal verb, however, that changes the nuance of the sentence. The two following examples are similar yet distinct:

Ich schlage vor, dass du es nochmal versuchst.

Ich schlage vor, dass du es nochmal versuchen solltest.

Concerning the usage of infinitive structure versus subordinate clause, it depends on whether the recipient of the suggestion is the subject of the subordinate clause or not. For example:

Ich werde der Versammlung vorschlagen, den Antrag abzulehnen.

Ich werde der Versammlung vorschlagen, dass sie den Antrag ablehnt.

Here, the second doesn’t sound as good as the first. Both are possible, though, since the subject of the subordinate clause is the Versammlung, i.e. the recipient of the suggestion. In the following example, however, it’s not possible to use an infinitive construction due to the shift of subject:

Ich werde der Versammlung vorschlagen, dass du aufgenommen wirst.

As long as the subordinate clause stays in passive voice, there is no way to turn it into an infinitive.

  • For the part about the second question: Moods are not tenses. (I think the OP wonders whether there’s something similar to the subjunctive (in his English example) in German)
    – idmean
    Dec 3, 2016 at 8:35
  • @idmean I didn't actually think about it. The English phrasing only suggests the subjunctive implicitly since there is no distinct subjunctive form in this case. However, something in my language intuitions asks for subjunctive here. It may have to do with my experience with Latin, where (I believe) such an example would take a subjunctive.
    – amirdeq
    Dec 3, 2016 at 11:55
  • @amirdeq Of course, but technically that’s an English subjunctive. Although the Konjunktiv exists and Konjunktiv can be translated to subjunctive it's used to express doubt or uncertainty but normally not to make a suggestion or express a wish.
    – idmean
    Dec 3, 2016 at 12:03
  • @idmean Whoops … I don’t know why but writing this answer I was sure OP had asked for tenses. Edited accordingly.
    – Jan
    Dec 3, 2016 at 13:28

Ich schlage dir vor, es noch mal zu versuchen.

is perfectly valid German. I would, however, say that it’s pretty uncommon. You would rather say your second sentence:

Ich schlage vor, dass du es noch mal versuchst.

To address your second question: The mode is also perfectly fine. (There’s nothing equivalent to the subjunctive in this case if you’re thinking of that).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.