In English we would say the same thing using let "I let my hair cut" where 'cut' is p.p.(past participle). because the hair "is cut". In the sentence "Ich lasse meine Haare schneiden" why isn't schneiden in p.p. form? I didn't learn passive form yet. But shouldn't it be "Ich lasse meine Haare geschneiden."?

  • 2
    If you use widely unknown abbreviations, please write the full expression in brackets after the 1st usage of the abbreviation. Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 18:11
  • @userunknown sorry, it's past participle.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 0:06
  • I’m not sure I agree with your assumptions. Your English example sentence sounds wrong to me, and even if it is correct, I would assume cut to be the stem form. Compare: ‘I let him go’ — not gone.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 2:53
  • @not gone Hi, we usually say "I have my hair cut" in English and in this case 'cut' is past participle. It's someone that cuts the hair and the hair is being cut(passive, so use p.p.). I just substituted 'let' for 'have' because I saw the German sentence using lasser. likewise, we say 'I had my wallet stollen' instead of 'I had my wallet steal'. You know it's a basic grammar. On the contrary, If I make some one do something, we say 'I let him go' like you said. in this case 'him' is the semantic subject of 'go'.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 5:10
  • @not gone, The verb can be v.i.(verb instransitive,) or v.t.(verb transitive). For example, we can say 'I let him eat the apple.' or 'I let the apple eaten by the man' but we cannot say 'I let the apple eat'.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


First, the German sentence

Ich lasse mir die Haare schneiden.

would be more idiomatic. The mir here is similar to the mir in

Ich wasche mir die Hände. (I wash my hands.)

The structure of the German sentence becomes clearer if we add who is cutting:

Ich lasse ihn mir die Haare schneiden.

I let (or: have) him cut my hair.

Here, cut is also an infinitive and not a past participle in English. (Btw, the past participle of schneiden is geschnitten.)

This also shows why the mir is helpful in the first sentence. Otherwise, one might get the idea that the hair is cutting something. Indeed we could say

Ich lasse meinen Bruder schneiden.

and context would hopefully clarify that the brother is cutting, not being cut. For a clearer example:

Ich lasse meinen Bruder fahren.

I let/have my brother drive.

(The German sentence actually could have also other interpretation like let go, but that does not matter here.)

  • OK, I see.(it took me a minute to understand what you are saying. :) ). It seems like, in the original sentence "Ich lasse meine Haare schneiden", the direct objective (the subject of the verb schneiden - the one who cuts my hair) is omitted. I saw in my book that we need to pay attention to the case where first object is omitted and now I realize it.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 0:16

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