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For best of my knowledge, in the case of separable verbs (trennbare Verben), the verb should be divided onto two parts where the prefix should be placed at the end of the clause:

Es hängt von … ab.

At the same time, I see examples, where the verb prefix is written right after the verb itself and not at the end of the clause:

Es hängt ab von …

For instance:

Wie schnell jedes Land die verschiedenen Phasen des SAP durchläuft […], hängt ab von der zunehmenden Fähigkeit zur Übernahme der Verpflichtungen […]. Source

  • Why in the second option the prefix ab is placed right after the verb?
  • Which of these two variants is correct?
  • Is there any difference in the meaning of these two cases?
  • Hängt ab von is simply wrong. Attach a sad smiley and do not imitate. – Janka Mar 11 '17 at 21:00
  • @Janka, I thought the same way unless I realised that this form is widely used, including the official documentation of the EU Commission at EUR-Lex Law Portal. – Mike B. Mar 11 '17 at 21:16
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    Juristendeutsch uses weird invalid grammatical constructions for the sake of understandability (!). One might argue after reading about a Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, one may lose focus and do not remember the verb, so putting the second part directly behind the first is a good idea. A better idea would be discarding such monsters completely and rephrase into much shorter sentences. – Janka Mar 11 '17 at 21:34
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    Why is it wrong though? The double preposition is maybe just unusual, like the American 'off of'. Alternatively use "das ist abhängig von"! Compare to jur. "anhängig in"! – vectorious Mar 13 '17 at 13:42
  • @janka "simply wrong" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in itself. I suppose you would have to be complicatedly correct in contrast, or hardly wrong (not to say complexically wrong, nor simply correct) – vectory Sep 24 '19 at 15:28
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This grammar feature is called prepositional phrase in the Nachfeld, and it's not restricted to separable verbs (though it's easier to notice with separable verbs).

Basically, when you have a long and complex prepositional phrase, you can put it after the main sentence, and that means it comes after a separable prefix or the infinitive/participle group that normally come at the end.

Both variants are correct (though for a really short phrase, it would look odd, and very strongly emphasize the phrase), and there's no difference in meaning. It's purely for the easy of understanding.

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  • Exactly. There is even a grammatical term for this procedure: Ausklammerung. – mach Mar 12 '17 at 8:27
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It's not so easy.

If you assume, that only those rules are correct, that are written in grammar books, then you are right. According to those books it should be:

Wie schnell jedes Land die verschiedenen Phasen des SAP durchläuft, hängt von der zunehmenden Fähigkeit zur Übernahme der Verpflichtungen ab.

And this should be considered to be wrong:

Wie schnell jedes Land die verschiedenen Phasen des SAP durchläuft, hängt ab von der zunehmenden Fähigkeit zur Übernahme der Verpflichtungen.

BUT

German is a living language, which means, it is changing and developing all the time. The rules, that you can find now in books are the attempt to record the way how German is actually used. So those rules reflect a status, of which a group of experts thought in the past, that this is how people speak and write.

But as said before, German is changing. Verb-clamps, that appear when the parts of separable verbs are separated, are sometimes converted to the pattern that you found, if the number of words that should be placed between the two parts, is big.

This is against the rules that you find in actual grammar books, but it happens, and it happens more and more. This usage is not standard German at the moment, but if this trends goes on within the next years, I think in 10 or 20 years this might be considered to be correct.

In fact »A hängt ab von B« it is easier to read and easier to understand than »A hängt von B ab«. But it still is unaccustomed and officially wrong, so you better should not use »A hängt ab von B«. But you already can find this pattern in many texts, so you should know it.

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  • Thank you for the detailed and intreresting explanation. P. S. I find the «hängt ab» form as a great optimisation, but hope, some day, it will be simplified even more, to clean and handy «abhängt»… – Mike B. Mar 11 '17 at 22:25
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    This answer is not correct. Putting a phrase into the “Nachfeld” is, as dirkt has pointed out, a valid option in German grammar, also known as “Ausklammerung”. – mach Mar 12 '17 at 8:26

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