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I am having problems to see the difference between 'Ich lasse mich die Haare schneiden' and 'Ich lasse mir meine Haare schneiden'. I can not understand why one of them is written in the reflexiv form of 'ich' and the other is written in the dativ form.

Here are the examples from my book:

  • Lise uns ihre Mutter lassen sich das Haar im Friseur schneiden.
  • Ich muss mir das Haar schneiden lassen.
  • Das Mädchen hat sich ihr blondes Haar schneiden lassen.
  • In den letzten Woche habe ich mich die Haare schneiden lassen.

and as well:

  • Vor der Party lass ich MICH schminken.
  • Lassen Sie sich normalerweise schminken?
  • Lassen sich mit den neuen Lippenstift schminken.
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    I guess you are aware that "Ich lasse mich die Haare schneiden" is simply wrong (or at least very bad "hillbilly" german)? – πάντα ῥεῖ May 5 '18 at 13:57
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    "Ich lasse mich" geht gar nicht. Allenfalls "Ich lasse Dich die Haare (meiner Tochter) schneiden", d.h. Du bist derjenige der schneidet. Ebenso geht "Ich lasse Dich ihre Haare schneiden" - das besitzanzeigende Fürwort spielt für Frage keine Rolle. Ein Scan der Buchseite wäre wünschenswert, sonst fällt es uns schwer zu glauben, dass das in einem dt. Buch steht. – user unknown May 5 '18 at 14:20
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    @ÁgathaTurmina "I have a German book which brings both cases." It would be nice if you could bring up these examples with a few sentences of context. As mentioned "Ich lasse mich die Haare schneiden" could appear as a cite or slang in direct written speech. – πάντα ῥεῖ May 5 '18 at 14:27
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    Ich bekom wirklich ärger wegen dieses Buch, das falsche Beispiele zeigt – Ágatha Turmina May 5 '18 at 15:09
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    @ÁgathaTurmina I was so frank to edit your examples into your question (because comments aren't meant for additional information). It looks like your book isn't much good. – πάντα ῥεῖ May 5 '18 at 15:10
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It looks like your book contains some typos and wrong examples. Here are the correct(ed) sentences:

  • Lise und ihre Mutter lassen sich das Haar beim Friseur schneiden.
  • Ich muss mir das Haar schneiden lassen.
  • Das Mädchen hat sich ihrsein blondes Haar schneiden lassen.
  • In den letzten Woche habe ich michr die Haare schneiden lassen.

and as well:

  • Vor der Party lasse ich mich schminken.
  • Lassen Sie sich normalerweise schminken?
  • Lassen Sie sich mit dem neuen Lippenstift schminken.
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  • Thank you very much :D! I just still can't understand why "Sie lassen sich das Haar beim Friseur schneiden" is correct if "Ich habe mich die Haare schneiden lassen" is wrong. Both with the reflexiv form – Ágatha Turmina May 5 '18 at 17:48
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    @ÁgathaTurmina sich is plural in that case, that makes a difference. See "Das Mädchen hat sich ihr blondes Haar schneiden lassen." in contrast. I'm no grammar expert, just a native speaker. Sorry that I'm not able to explain you the exact grammatical terms, and derivations. – πάντα ῥεῖ May 5 '18 at 17:53
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    @ÁgathaTurmina, sich can be both accusative or dative, mich is only accusative. – Carsten S May 5 '18 at 19:03
  • @CarstenS That probably clarifies the confusion. – πάντα ῥεῖ May 5 '18 at 19:04
  • Now I can understand! Thanks for taking your time to help me :D – Ágatha Turmina May 5 '18 at 19:04
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The sentence «ich lasse mich die Haare schneiden» is ungrammatical. It can be either «ich lasse mich schneiden» ‘I let myself be cut’ or «ich lasse die Haare schneiden» ‘I let the hair be cut’, but not both at the same time.

The sentence «ich lasse mir meine Haare schneiden», while not ungrammatical, is unusual. The usual form would be «ich lasse mir die Haare schneiden».

This is indeed a special and interesting case. When speaking about inalienable possession (especially parts of your own body), the possession is not expressed by «mein*» + , but rather by «mir» + definite article + .

For instance, if you are a wig maker, you might say «ich habe meine Haare schneiden lassen». The hair you are talking about is in your possession, but it is not the one that (inalienably) grows on your head. When you are talking about the (inalienable) hair on your head, you would rather say «ich habe mir die Haare schneiden lassen». The sentence «ich habe mir meine Haare schneiden lassen» is rather like the former case. The use of «meine Haare» instead of «die Haare» signals that the hair you are talking about is probably not the (inalienable) one on your head, whereas the «mir» just expresses that you are especially affected by this process – similar to saying «ich habe mir einen Film angeschaut».

See also Alienabilität in the German Wikipedia.

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  • I wouldn't give too much on that Wikipedia article. Never heard of that rule (am German). I cut my toenails regularly. Hair not any more. Duden for example has no entry for "Alienabilität". – a_donda Mar 3 at 22:44

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