I've come across the following passage:

Hier arbeiten Doktoranten wie Paul Hix in einem Original-Labor: "Wir lassen uns gern über die Schulter schauen. Viele Besucher wissen gar nicht, wie so ein Forscheralltag aussieht, sondern kennen nur die Klischees vom verrückten Forscher aus Hollywood Filmen.

So, Mr Paul is happy to let people take a peak of what he does, in order to dismiss the common perception of scientists as crazy people. My question is, shouldn't it have said:

Wir lassen uns gern über die Schulter geschaut werden.


Or have I completely misunderstood the idiom, and what he actually means is that he likes to look over his shoulder to watch people who, in turn, are watching him work?


1 Answer 1


The verb lassen already implies the action given in infinitive is done by another person. No passive voice needed nor useful.

Er arbeitet nicht, er lässt arbeiten.

He doesn't work, he lets (someone else) work.

Maybe it helps you to think of this lassen as to let it happen.

Be careful however about its other, highly idiomatic uses:

Er lässt sich Zeit.

He takes his time.

Lass das! / Lass es sein!

Stop it!

Lass mal fünfe gerade sein!

"Let five be even." (Let's make an exception, okay?)

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