In English, the sentence I'm trying to say is "I have the book that you wanted to have."

I don't understand why in the German translation, "haben" is not at the end of the sentence. I was under the impression that in German the infinitive verb always goes toward the end of the sentence.

  • 3
    What gave you that impression? German subclauses almost always end with the finite verb. It's only some complicated relative clauses that involve both auxiliary and modal verbs which break that rule. (Don't be confused by the fact that the infinitive ending -en is also the ending of some finite forms.) Nov 20, 2017 at 7:52
  • I am not a native German speaker, but the second sounds awkwardly even for me. Recently, particularly younger Germans, started to not move the verb to the end, but I think in such sentences even they doesn't do it so. Relevant text.
    – peterh
    Nov 21, 2017 at 3:32

2 Answers 2


In a statement, you would have been right about the infinitive going to the end:

Du wolltest das Buch haben.

But since we have a subordinate clause, the verb is last, not second, so the finite verb goes last, with the infinite verb right before it.

Ich habe das Buch, das du haben wolltest.


That is because the finite verb is the modal verb wollen here, not haben. Such modal verbs take an infinitive describing the action further:

Ich habe das Buch, dass du haben wolltest.

English does this, too, but the infinitive to have goes to the end, while in German, the finite form wolltest goes to the end.

  • 1
    Note that we have a subordinate clause here which is why the finite verb goes last. In a statement there would be a sentence bracket, with the infinite verb last. (Yes, German is complicated!)
    – RHa
    Nov 20, 2017 at 7:23

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