1

How would a German speaker say 'house for sale'?

The 'zu' preposition is very confusing and I do not know if the correct version would be 'Haus zu verkaufen ' or 'Haus verkaufen'?

Do the 2 versions have different meaning?

2

Only "Haus zu verkaufen" is grammatically correct. In announcements offering goods, German always uses "zu" + infinitive:

Haus zu verkaufen. / House for sale.
Ferienappartement zu vermieten. / Holiday apartment for rent/to let.
Bücher zu verschenken. / Free books.

As you can see from one example, even (British) English does this from time to time. However, most English constructions use nouns (sale, rent), whereas German exclusively uses verbs in the infinitive - hence the "zu".

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  • Verkaufe Haus. Vermiete Ferienappartement. Verschenke Bücher. are also valid alternatives. – Janka Apr 18 '17 at 19:13
  • True, but these are ellipses of inflected forms: "(Ich) verkaufe (ein) Haus. (Ich) vermiete (ein) Ferienappartement. (Ich) verschenke Bücher." None of them contains an infinite form, which was the OP's main concern. – ParaDice Apr 18 '17 at 19:23
  • That's why I put in a comment, not an answer, Uh, and: "Haus zu verkaufen" ist an ellipsis of Es ist ein Haus zu verkaufen. – Janka Apr 18 '17 at 19:31
  • Isn't the verbal form (zum Verkaufen) actually the most common? – c.p. Apr 18 '17 at 19:58
  • I've never heard that said before, but I just checked via a quick search request. "Zu verkaufen" seems to be more frequent (24 million hits), "ZuM Verkaufen" less so (460k hits). However, searching for "ZuM Verkaufen" got me a lot of .at and .ch domains in the results, which may be a hint that this is a valid variant used predominantly in Southern German regions, particularly Austria and Switzerland. However, since I hail from the North, I'll leave the final word on that to the natives. ;) – ParaDice Apr 18 '17 at 20:08

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