1

Weitere Erfolge sollten nicht lange auf sich warten lassen.

Why is it incorrect to say:

Weitere Erfolge sollten sich nicht lange auf sich warten lassen.


This locution usually takes the form of "accusative reflexive pronoun + infinitive verb + auxiliary lassen", as in:

Du solltest dich von ihnen entschädigen lassen!

So I wonder why in this specific instance, the accusative reflexive pronoun "sich" is omitted?

  • 1
    "This locution usually takes the form of 'accusative reflexive pronoun + infinitive verb + auxiliary lassen'" - a questionable assumption, given that sentences such as "Du solltest ihn einsteigen lassen.", "Sie sollte ihn mitgehen lassen.", and "Man sollte Obst nicht verschimmeln lassen." are entirely correct, too. – O. R. Mapper May 23 '17 at 7:05
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"Entschädigen" and "warten" are different types of verbs. "Entschädigen" is transitive and always demands an accusative object, "warten" is intransitive and cannot have an accusative object at all*.

It's just as in English: You can't wait something, you wait for something.

=> "sich warten lassen" is wrong, "auf sich warten lassen" is correct.

*there is the homonym "etw. warten" (transitive) which does demand one, but has the different meaning of "to maintain sth." and is unrelated to your example.

Edit: Hm. Apologies. It's always funny to try to explain things in your own language that are so "intuitive" for you that you never learned literal rules for them and try to come up with one on the spot. I have to amend my answer. Transitivity is not the reason.. the definition of reflexivity is. "Sich" is a substitution for the subject of the sentence, and if you revert that substitution it becomes a lot clearer why "Weitere Erfolge sollten sich nicht lange auf sich warten lassen." doesn't make sense to a native speaker:

  1. Beate hat ihren Mann nicht lange auf [sich -> Beate] warten lassen
  2. Weitere Erfolge sollten nicht lange auf [sich -> weitere Erfolge] warten lassen.
  3. Weitere Erfolge sollten [sich -> weitere Erfolge] nicht lange auf [sich -> weitere Erfolge] warten lassen.

1) and 2) follow the same pattern, but in 2) the object is omitted because it is not relevant for the meaning of the sentence and/or could be replaced with "das Universum" (sometimes actually happens in literature). Everyone who thought "es regnet" and similar constructions were ridiculous is now allowed to bash their head on the table..

Anyways, turns out that 3) actually is grammatically correct, but doesn't mean the same as 2) semantically (instead of a vague everything, now specifically success waits for itself.. which is not what 2) wanted to say). So, the first "sich" is not redundant as you assumed, but changes the meaning of the sentence to something that makes little sense outside of poetry and just sounds very weird.

  • Sie hat ihren Mann warten lassen. Ugh, we have an accusative object here: ihren Mann! That's because the accusative object does not rely on warten, but on lassen. Please explain. – Janka May 23 '17 at 8:33
  • @Janka My thoughts, exactly. I notice that the auxiliary lassen usually has an accusative object, so the lack of it in my example sentence has me puzzled. I wonder if the presence of "auf sich" allows the accusative object "sich" to be omitted to avoid redundancy? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 23 '17 at 9:20
  • Auf sich is a prepositional object connected to warten. Annatar got that right. You can have an accusative object in the sentence, too, but it makes no sense to use sich both times: Beate hat ihren Mann nicht lange auf sich warten lassen. – Janka May 23 '17 at 9:39
  • Heh, interesting. I thought that transitivity alone covers this case, but it seems not. I'll edit my answer. – Annatar May 23 '17 at 9:55
  • @Janke, Beates Mann hat kurz auf sich gewartet? – Carsten S May 23 '17 at 11:23

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