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Do these words fit in these contexts.

First example:

He has failed to love her.

Second example:

His plan is going to fail.

Third example:

The engine of the car has failed suddenly.

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    Du suchst das Verb versagen. Passendere Verben sind 1) versäumen, 2) fehlschlagen, 3) ausfallen. – Janka Feb 13 '18 at 21:05
  • @Janka does Scheitern/versagen fit in the first and second example? – Hussien Chahin Feb 13 '18 at 21:22
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    @PiedPiper: Bitte eine deutsche Übersetzung mit scheitern für das erste Beispiel. – Janka Feb 13 '18 at 21:56
  • @PiedPiper I have heard that in case we want to say he failed to do something only versäumen fits, is that correct? And can versagen be used to describe that something fails as in the second example? – Hussien Chahin Feb 13 '18 at 22:16
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    The possibility to edit your question is meant to correct typos, or to do minor changes. But is is not allowed, to change the core of your question! In your original question you gave three examples, and in my answer I addressed exactly this three examples. When you delete those examples, then the connection between the already existing answer and the question gets lost. Therefore I made a rollback to the version of you question that is answered by my answer. Feel free to edit typos in it if you find some, but do not delete the examples! – Hubert Schölnast Feb 15 '18 at 7:58
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He has failed to love her.
Er schaffte es nicht, sie zu lieben.

Here: to fail = nicht schaffen.
This means:
He was trying to love her, but he couldn't achieve it. But you normaly just say:

Er liebte sie nicht.
He didn't love her.

You avoid »er schaffte es nicht«, because this sounds as if he had a hard job in trying it in the sense of he was working hard on it. But loving someone else is nothing that can be achieved by hard word. You maybe can make another person to love you when you work on it, but here the male person is working to make himself love the female person.

Another possibility:

Er scheiterte daran, sie zu lieben.

But, depending on the context, this can be interpreted in two ways:

  1. Like above: He tried to love her, but he failed.
  2. He loved her, but he collapsed under this love.

His plan is going to fail.
Sein Plan wird scheitern.

In this example, its easy: to fail = scheitern.


The engine of the car has failed suddenly.
Der Motor des Autos fiel plötzlich aus.

Also very clear: to fail = ausfallen. (Note, that ausfallen is a separable verb)


Another often seen usages of to fail:

He failed the exam.
1. Er fiel bei der Prüfung durch.
2. Er bestand die Prüfung nicht.

Here you have two possibilities:

  1. to fail = durchfallen. (separable verb) (literally: to fall through)
  2. to fail = nicht bestehen. (literally: to not pass)

In a comment you also mentioned, that to fail can mean versäumen. This is correct, here is an example:

In this debate, we have heard a number of specific pointers, which we shall obviously not fail to pass on.
In dieser Aussprache haben wir einige konkrete Signale gehört, deren Übermittlung wir natürlich nicht versäumen werden.


There are even more different ways to translate the verb to fail, they all depend on the particular usage.

  • do you think that versagen,misslingen and fehlschlagen kann fit the first two examples? – Hussien Chahin Feb 14 '18 at 12:27
  • @HussienChahin: The purpose of any language is to transport ideas. The sender converts his thoughts into a sequence of words, and the receivers tries to extract some sense out of this sequence. Any sequence of words will do, as long as the receiver reconstructs ideas, that are close to the ideas in the senders mind. Very often lots of different sequences are able to transport the same idea. ... – Hubert Schölnast Feb 15 '18 at 7:43
  • ... You never should try to take a sequence that exists in one language, and convert it into a sequence in another language without having the ideas in mind, that shall be transported. Always try to find a sequence, that is able to transport the ideas, regardless of its representation in any other language. Do not translate words! Translate meanings! – Hubert Schölnast Feb 15 '18 at 7:44

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