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I know the purpose of using "um ... zu" in a sentence, but the problem arises when there is a separable verb. For example: um an zu ziehen or um zu anziehen?

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    I tried to improve your question. To further increase the chance of survival of your post, I suggest to elaborate your question. Give more examples, native speakers can typically answer your questions much more better, but they need more explanation. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Feb 22 '18 at 19:56
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    Please don't SHOUT. – Janka Feb 22 '18 at 21:05
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um an zu ziehen or um zu anziehen?

Neither. It's

Er brauchte noch Zeit, um sich anzuziehen.

This follows the same scheme as the perfect participle of separable verbs:

Er hat sich angezogen.

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  • To be fair, the difference is just spelling. – Carsten S Feb 22 '18 at 21:45
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    As this is about separable verbs, separating its parts or not makes a great difference. – Janka Feb 22 '18 at 22:44
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    @Janka: true, but you can't hear the difference, while you can clearly hear the difference between um anzuziehen and um zu anziehen. – Rudy Velthuis Feb 22 '18 at 23:12
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    @CarstenS It does, however, make a difference: "Um die Jacke anzuziehen" is different from "Um an der Jacke zu ziehen" ;-) The Verb is "anziehen", not "an ziehen". – Thorsten Dittmar Feb 23 '18 at 10:43
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Um fair zu sein, muss ich sagen, dass Deutsch manchmal sehr verwirrend ist.

This is fine.

Er gab alles, um sein Ziel zu erreichen.

This also.

Es gab nicht viel Zeit, um die Segel einzuholen.

This also. The "zu" is always right in front of your verb.

Rule of thumb: If your verb is two separate words in first person singular, the "zu" goes between these two words. E.g.

Ich ziehe mich an. --> Ich brauche noch einen Moment, um mich anzuziehen.

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