If I want to say: "He deserves to live", the proper translation would be: Er verdient es zu leben.

On the other hand, I'm allowed to say:"Ich habe versucht zu erklaeren.", with no es.

My question is: Why is this difference? Is it because versuchen is intransitive? Can I generalize the verdienen case to all transitive verbs?

  • What is wrong with "Er verdient zu leben."? Also note that both "Ich habe versucht zu erklären." and "Ich habe versucht, es zu erklären." are valid, but mean two slightly different things. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 22:38
  • Just that I can't find a reference to verdient zu leben on reverso.context( all of them are verdient es zu tun ), so I extrapolate that it is not idiomatic/ grammtically incorrect. Maybe I'm too meticulous on these grammatical things ;P. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 22:59
  • I wonder if "versuchen" maybe takes the role of a modal verb here, which "verdienen" does not have. Hence the difference.
    – Beta
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


It has to read:

Ich habe versucht, es zu erklären.


Ich habe versucht, <Akkusativobjekt> zu erklären.


Ich habe versucht, zu erklären, dass … (Objektsatz).

Because erklären needs an accusative object. In the latter case, the Objektsatz introduced with dass fulfills that function. The Objektsatz may be introduced by other constructions, too, but they are less common.

Ich habe versucht, zu erklären, welcher Plan mehr Erfolg verspricht.

I tried to explain which plan is more promising.

  • Nice explanation. I'll add in response to the question: Yes, you have to use a pronoun with every transitive verb followed by an infinitve construction, provided it doesn't need a noun. (But you don't have to set a comma before an infinitive construction - the rules have been changed)
    – Kristina
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 18:15

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