Zanken tun wir uns auch nicht gerade selten, aber trotz allem sorge ich mich um ihn.

I think that the meaning of "zwar/wohl/schon/ja" is included in the first part of the sentence before the "aber". At any rate, I wonder how it compares to saying:

Zanken wir uns auch nicht gerade selten, aber trotz allem sorge ich mich um ihn.

  • It has exactly the same function as "do" in emphatic or interrogative English sentences. It's just that the construction is considered a lot more non-standard than in English. Mar 17, 2017 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


The author of the sentence wants to stress the verb "zanken". In German, you can generally stress a part of the sentence by moving it to first position. On the other hand, in a main clause, the finite verb must always come in second position.

In future tense, present/past perfect, and passive voice that's not a problem, since there is always an auxiliary verb (werden, sein, haben); so the infinitive or participle can take the stressed first position and the finite form of the auxiliary verb takes the second position.

In present and past tense active, however, there is no auxiliary verb. The problem is solved by using the finite form of "tun" in second position as an "auxiliary auxiliary" verb together with the infinitive of the main verb in the stressed first position. This is colloquial style, though.

  • Hi. So is the sentence construction similar to the following sentence? "Verantworten werdet Ihr Euch auf jeden Fall." The "verantworten" is stressed and the "werdet" placed as an auxiliary verb. Mar 18, 2017 at 2:33
  • @Alone-zee Yes, that's essentially the same construction. The only difference is that future tense, present/past perfect, and passive voice always come with an auxiliary verb (werden, sein, haben), but present and past tense active don't. So "tun" is used as an "auxiliary auxiliary verb". It's colloquial style, though.
    – Uwe
    Mar 18, 2017 at 12:30
  • Thank you. In that case, is it OK to use "mögen" and say: "Zanken mögen wir uns auch nicht gerade selten, aber trotz allem sorge ich mich um ihn."? Mar 18, 2017 at 13:04
  • @Alone-zee That would change the meaning; and "mögen" (to like) sounds really strange in this context.
    – Uwe
    Mar 18, 2017 at 13:12

It's kind of like "we do fight frequently, but..."

The second sentence wouldn't work like this, you would have to change the word order: "Wir zanken uns auch nicht gerade selten, ..."

The first sentence sounds more colloquial, the second a bit more formal in German.

  • As of the second sentence, you could also change the second clause. "Zanken wir uns auch nicht gerade selten, so sorge ich mich trotzdem um ihn"
    – Em1
    Mar 17, 2017 at 13:13
  • 1
    This is one of the - strictly speaking gramatically wrong - uses of tun as an auxiliary (which it isn't) in German. This usage is, as you say, colloquial.
    – tofro
    Mar 17, 2017 at 13:42

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