This fragment comes from a German board game manual (page 2, the "Architekt" action example on the right):

"Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft Rot Kolonisten stehen hat."

Why the word "hat" was used here?

4 Answers 4


Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft Rot Kolonisten stehen hat.

Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft Rot Kolonisten hat.

These are roughly equivalent. Haben as a main verb translates into a plain to have, to possess. But haben is sometimes used as it was a modal verb and those take an infinitive explaining the verb further.

Ich muss auflegen, ich hab' was auf dem Herd stehen.

I have to hang up, I have something standing (cooking) on the stove.

Ich habe einen Auftrag laufen.

I have an order running.

This use seems to be limited to the phrasal verbs stehen haben and laufen haben. I can't think of other uses at the moment.

  • "Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft Rots Kolonisten stehen." käme ohne "hat" aus, aber bedürfte des Genitivs. Mar 27, 2020 at 12:23

You might be misunderstanding this due to the fact that what looks like a »Deppenleerzeichen« isn’t actually one.

... in deren Nachbarschaft Rot Kolonisten stehen hat.

means that (the player) “Red” has “colonists” standing in the vicinity of 5 cities. You could drop the »stehen« in this case just like in English: “Red has colonists” as opposed to “Red has colonists standing [...]”, which means roughly the same thing like Janka already indicated.

On the other hand, if we drop the space between »Rot« and »Kolonisten«,

... in deren Nachbarschaft Rotkolonisten stehen *hat.

would be wrong, because in this case there would just be “red-coat colonists standing” in the vicinity of the cities, and there is no (other) subject in the sentence that could “have” the colonists standing there. This works exactly the same way in German and English.


The word hat is used because the construction has an agentive subject and is transitive.

Stehen, liegen, hängen1 by themselves have no agentive subject and are intransitive.

Raviolidosen stehen im Regal.
Unter dem Kopfkissen liegt eine Pistole.
Viele Bilder hängen an den Wänden.

The construction haben plus the infinitive of one of the above verbs has an agentive subject and is transitive and stative (i.e. they denote a state).

Er hat Raviolidosen im Regal stehen.
Sie hat eine Pistole unter dem Kopfkissen liegen.
Meine Großeltern haben viele Bilder an den Wänden hängen.

In contrast, stellen, legen, hängen2 have an agentive subject, are transitive and not stative (i.e. they denote an action).

Er stellt die Dosen ins Regal.
Sie legt die Pistole unters Kopfkissen.
Sie hängen Bilder an die Wände.

As far as the quoted example is concerned: Rot is the agentive subject and Kolonisten is the object and patient; haben plus infinitive is transitive.

Rot hat hier Kolonisten stehen. (similar to (2))

Without haben, the construction would have no agentive subject and be intransitive.

Hier stehen Kolonisten. (similar to (1))


I strongly suspect that the confusion might arise from mistaking "Rot" for an adjective here:

Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft Rot Kolonisten stehen hat.

Speakers of languages that do not inflect adjectives might be tempted to misread this as

Now, there are 5 cities in whose vicinity red colonists are standing.

Based upon this assumption, the trailing word "hat" can indeed appear superfluous.

If the sentence were to have that meaning, it should read

Es gibt jetzt 5 Städte, in deren Nachbarschaft rote Kolonisten stehen.

Note the lower case "r" and the "e" ending on the adjective "rot".

While the underlying meaning would arguably be the same, the sentence structure is different: With this interpretation, "red colonists"/"rote Kolonisten" are the subject, whereas in the actual German sentence as cited, "Rot", a shortening of something like "Team Red", "the red Team", "the team nicknamed 'red'", is the subject, whereas the colonists are a resource in the subject's possession.

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