Here's the passage:

Widerwillig war er an Bord gegangen. Eigentlich nur, weil er sich keine Blöße hatte geben wollen.

shouldn't it have been:

...weil er sich keine Blöße geben wollen hatte.


In the same novel, another passage reads as follows:

Was den Kommissar jedoch besonders missmutig machte, war die Tatsache, keine weiteren Informationen zu besitzen als nur das eine Faktum: dass eben drei Leichen gefunden worden waren.

What's the difference between the two cases, if any?

1 Answer 1


No. That is because if a Standard German clause has bare infinitives, they are the last words in that clause.

Er wollte sich keine Blöße geben. (wollen needs an infinitive)

Er hatte sich keine Blöße geben wollen. (Plusquamperfekt with Ersatzinfinitiv of wollen)

… weil er sich keine Blöße hatte geben wollen. (same as a dependent clause)

There is an exception in Bavarian and some Austrian dialects, though:

Er hatte sich keine Blöße geben gewollt.

… weil er sich keine Blöße hatte geben gewollt.

But this one affects the (regular) past participle only, which is replaced by the Ersatzinfinitiv in Standard German. That rule nothing but infinitives after an infinitive is very strict in Standard German.

  • But my question was about the position of 'hatte', because 'wollen' here is not really an infinitive but rather a past participle, right?
    – Jawad
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 12:31
  • 3
    Sure it is. It's the Ersatzinfinitiv. And the rule is infinitives come last.
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 12:50
  • 1
    @Janka What are you talking about? There is no such rule as "nothing but infinitives after an infinitive" about dependent clauses! "...weil er kein Risiko eingehen wollte" is pefectly normal German. Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 13:15
  • 1
    You are right, I was out of my mind. The modals itself are an exception.
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 14:50
  • 1
    Gefunden werden is passive voice. Waren is past tense of the copula (sein) and worden is past tense of werden. There is no infinitive here. Better create another question for this.
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 23:51

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