It is my understanding that separable prefix is supposed to go the end of the clause it is in, right?

  • So in the sentence, Warum kommst du nicht mit Kafee trinken? Is "Kaffee trinken" a subordinate clause? If not and there is only one clause in this whole sentence, what is the explanation behind it?

    "Separable prefixes go to the end of the clause EXCEPT [whatever rule it is that makes "mit" occupy the position before "Kafee trinken"]?

  • Alle bringen etwas zu essen oder zu trinken mit. The same question applies here, what is the grammatical difference between "Kaffee trinken" and "etwas zu essen oder zu trinken"? Besides, "zu" I don't see any difference at all: [Noun/pronoun] + zu + [infinitive]

So why does "mit" precede one and follow the other?

EDIT: I think I may have figured out the answer: In the first sentence, "kaffee trinken kommen" is a 2-verb combination http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/MainClauses.html

And separable prefix precedes the final infinitive. So, She comes with to shop would be Sie kommt mit einkaufen and NOT Sie kommt einkaufen mit. True?

  • Much better formulated, but in my opinion still a duplicate. Maybe you can answer the other question.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 9:40
  • @CarstenS The linked question is from the same OP, however he doesn't seem satisfied with the answers there ;) Commented May 1, 2018 at 10:01
  • @tallistroan, oh, he has just been wasting my time then. I had not noticed, thanks.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 10:02
  • 1
    Please no double-posts! If you want to replace the other question by this one, then please delete your first version. Commented May 1, 2018 at 10:15
  • 1
    @EvilRacehorse, I am sorry that your experience here was so bad. Sometimes one can be a bit unlucky with a question. I still think that this one is a duplicate, though. Anyway, hopefully you have better luck here in the future.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


One way to parse these sentences (I'm sure there is at least a dozen others):

"Kaffee trinken" is an infinitve clause (the "zu" particle is omitted because "kommen" is a verb of motion). The same goes for "einkaufen". This clause fulfils the role of an adverbial (denoting direction and/or purpose) w.r.t the main clause, so it is also an adverbial clause. [edit: added] You could even separate it with a comma if you wanted to, although a comma in this position is neither required nor commonly used.

On the other hand, "etwas zu essen oder zu trinken" is the (direct, accusative) object of "mitbringen", and not a clause of its own. [edit: added] The "zu essen oder zu trinken" part is an attribute applied to "etwas", you could just as well say "etwas essbares", so although this part contains an infinitive (or rather, two), it is not an infinitive clause.

So there is no "except", but rather "Kaffee trinken" (and "einkaufen") is not part of the main clause (to whose end the separatable prefix gets shifted), whereas "etwas zu essen oder zu trinken" is.

  • Thank you, so "Kaffee trinken" is a subordinate clause on its own? Shouldn't that also require it to be separated from the main clause? In the meantime, if "noun/demonstrative pronoun + infinitive" can be a subordinate clause, does the addition of "zu", like in "etwas ZU essen" prevent it from being a subordinate clause? I would appreciate an explanation of this :) Commented May 1, 2018 at 22:51
  • By "separated" do you mean by interpunction (e.g. a comma)? You could use one, but it is neither required not particularly common in this construction. As for "etwas zu essen", the "zu essen" part is an attribute applied to "etwas" (you could say "etwas essbares" instead). It not being a clause of its own has nothing to do with the "zu".
    – Hans-Jakob
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 3:45
  • Yes, I meant separation by a comma. I usually use comma to separate clauses (even though it is not strictly required) for comfort. I am just confused whether "Kaffee trinken" is a separate clause or this sentence just ha one clause a I have received mixed responses and will appreciate a more decisive answer on this Commented May 3, 2018 at 9:16

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