I am oh so very confused about 2 clauses that I'm reading. They come from "Der Sozialismus einst und jetzt".

Bevor man an die Aufgabe herangeht, Streitfragen des Sozialismus zu erörtern, [i.] wird man sich darüber zu äußern haben, was man überhaupt unter Sozialismus versteht, [ii.]wie weit man den Rahmen des Begriffs gezogen wissen will.

i) I know that you can have 2 verbs in infinitive clauses e.g. with the passive voice, with a relative clause. But I don't see how/why it's formed here (or what it means) and what kind of construction it is

ii) I understand what this means to an extent (to what extent the framework of the term is drawn) but the 'wissen will' is incredibly confusing, how does this work?


1) In order to get a clearer structure to this sentence, you may add a strategical "und":

... was man überhaupt unter Sozialismus versteht und wie weit man den Rahmen des Begriffs gezogen wissen will.

2) "gezogen wissen will" is simply a more manieristic way of saying "ziehen will". You may translate it tentatively as "... how you want to have this notion framed". I don't know if this is good English; probably not really.

3) "wird man sich zu äußern haben" - if this is your question - would mean "you will have to define..."

So, my amateurish translation of the entire passage would then be

Before you start debating about the intricacies of socialism, you will have to clarify what you understand under 'socialism' at all, and how far you would stretch the frames of this concept.

(Again sorry for the doubtlessly clumsy English. Better solutions are welcome.)

  • I understand what you said so thanks for that :)! I'm confused as to why 'müssen' is not used instead of haben however (because then the need for a zu is eliminated); is there a semantical difference at all? Could you also perhaps give anymore examples of the gezogen wissen will thing - like can you do it with any verb + will, e.g. drücken will > gedrückt wissen will? – user21483 Apr 4 '17 at 19:25
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    The "impersonal" pronoun man is meant to take the burden of doing something from the person addressed. It's not you, who has to do something, it's man. Someone. For the same reason, the sentence does not use the verb müssen. Müssen is rather harsh and commanding. It's replaced by this German have to construction as often as possible. – Janka Apr 5 '17 at 7:02
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    About gezogen wissen will: Instead of man, this time it's passive voice which should take the burden of doing something from the reader. – Janka Apr 5 '17 at 7:06
  • Ah I see, thanks a lot for that extra explanation. I've just rarely seen haben + zu before and was always told to use müssen (in school) so it threw me of entirely. And my confusion with 'gezogen wissen will' was as to why wissen was appearing instead of 'werden', but ofc Christian and a native speaker clarified this with me yesterday. Thanks again! :-) – user21483 Apr 5 '17 at 10:39

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