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Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter nicht die Laune verderben.

So, I'm given to understand that die Laune verderben requires the dative case to show whose mood is being spoiled. Like - Das verdirbt mir die Laune

So, is the pronoun mir dependent on the die Laune verderben, or is it related to the main verb lassen in the sense that, "I do not let myself ..."?

EDIT: I am mainly interested in the grammatical understanding of the sentence, especially the word order.

Let's take this sentence:

Schlechtes Wetter verdirbt mir die Laune.

Now if I want to say that I do not let bad weather spoil my mood, is

Ich lasse mir kein schlechtes Wetter die Laune verderben.

or

Ich lasse kein schlechtes Wetter mir die Laune verderben.

correct?

I have a feeling the second one is wrong, if yes, can anyone explain what rule(s) it violates?

  • How about both? Or rather: It's the same rule? – tofro Jun 19 '18 at 7:25
  • You mean mir applies BOTH to the main verb and the infinitive? If mir was applied to the infinitive then shouldn't the sentence be like Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter nicht die Laune mir verderben? Since in verbs with reflexive pronouns, the pronouns precedes the verb in the infinitive? – Evil Racehorse Jun 19 '18 at 7:33
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First of all: The verb verderben does NOT require an object in dative case:

It can come with just the subject alone:

Die Milch verdirbt.
The milk spoils.

Or it can come with the subject and an complement in accusative case (an accusative object):

Zu viele Köche verderben den Brei.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.

And then you also can add an optional dative object in dativus commodi, which tells you who is the beneficiary or the aggrieved party. This dative object ist not a mandatory complement of the verb verderben. You can add this kind of dative object to almost every verb to express who is affected by the action:

Der Kellner bringt den Wein.
Der Kellner bringt dem Gast den Wein.
The waiter brings the wine to the guest.

Die Lampe leuchtet zu hell.
Die Lampe leuchtet der Katze zu hell.
The lamp is too bright for the cat.

And also with verderben:

Der Chef verdirbt die Laune.
Der Chef verdirbt uns die Laune.
Literal: The boss spoils the mood to/for us.
In better English (but with different grammar than the German sentence, and also with a slightly different meaning): The boss spoils our mood.

Compare with other questions like

But it is true, that, when the accusative object of verderben is die Laune, then you usually use such a dative object to express who's mood is spoiled. So »die Laune verderben« very often goes together with a dativ object, but it is not mandatory.


Now to your actual question:

You want to say:

I do not let bad weather spoil my mood.

Here are the right translations:

  • Ich lasse mir nicht von schlechtem Wetter die Laune verderben.
  • Ich lasse mir nicht die Laune von schlechtem Wetter verderben.
  • Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter nicht die Laune verderben.
  • Ich lasse mir die Laune nicht von schlechtem Wetter verderben.
  • (Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter die Laune nicht verderben.)
  • (Ich lasse mir die Laune von schlechtem Wetter nicht verderben.)

(The positioning of the word nicht is topic of lots of questions in German.stackexchange. Just look for them. I'm not going to talk about this topic here. Just note, that the sentences that I've put in brackets are grammatical ok, but you should use them only if you wish to emphasize something really strong.)

The verb lassen is used here in a manner similar to modal verbs (dürfen, wollen, sollen, ...), but it is used reflexive, which is not usual for modal verbs.

The point is: The pronoun mir is here used as the reflexive pronoun that belongs to lassen, AND as a complement of the verb verderben in dativus commodi. But it is bound stronger to the verb lassen, so it must stand immediately after it.


Now about »schlechtes Wetter« vs. »von schlechtem Wetter«:

To avoit problems with negations, I explain it without it:

This is ok:

Ich lasse schlechtes Wetter meine Laune verderben.
I let bad weather spoil my mood.

Note, that now you have two accusative objects in the sentence:

  • schlechtes Wetter (Wen/was lasse ich etwas tun? Who/what do I let do something?)
  • meine Laune (Wen/was verdirbt das Wetter? Who/what is spoiled by the weather?)

So, schlechte Laune belongs to the verb lassen, and meine Laune belongs to verderben.

But normally you don't say

Ich lasse meine Laune verderben.

in German. Normally you say:

Ich lasse mir die Laune verderben.

so that you have this mir again, which snaps to the verb lassen, since when it is there, it will be interpreted as the reflexive pronoun of lassen. So you might say:

Ich lasse mir schlechtes Wetter die Laune verderben.

Grammatically this is ok, but now you have three objects (one in dative case, two in accusative case), and you have two verbs (lassen and verderben), and not it becomes hard to decide which object belongs to which verb.

This becomes much easier when you replace one of the accusative objects by a prepositional object, i.e when you replace »schlechtes Wetter« by »von schlechtem Wetter«:

Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter die Laune verderben.

Because now the sentence is much clearer and easier to understand.

  • I see it now, so even though mir is part of the predicate sich die Laune verderben in dativus commodi, it also belongs to the main verb lassen right? I just thought lassen doesn't take a pronoun in dative so it must just have belonged to the predicate sich die Laune verderben. In any case, would saying Ich lasse von schlechtem Wetter mir nicht die Laune verderben be considered grammatically correct. If not, why? – Evil Racehorse Jun 20 '18 at 15:18
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As for the second part of your question:

Ich lasse mir kein schlechtes Wetter die Laune verderben
Ich lasse kein schlechtes Wetter mir die Laune verderben

Both actually seem to be correct to me, but they are unusual, to say the least.

One would rather say:

Ich lasse mir von schlechtem Wetter nicht die Laune verderben
Kein schlechtes Wetter kann mir die Laune verderben

  • 1
    Thanks, so would Ich lasse von schlechtem Wetter mir nicht die Laune verderben also be correct? On the other hand, what is the meaning of "von" here? Is it like "because of? I know that "vor", can be used as "due to": Er ist vor Erschöpfung tot umgefallen – Evil Racehorse Jun 19 '18 at 8:39
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    It sounds rather poetic due to the unusual word order. – Oliver Mason Jun 19 '18 at 8:42
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    It is possible to use the word order you suggested, too, but it is also rather unusual. "Von" would translate as "by", something like "I won't let me be dragged down by bad weather". – Thorsten Dittmar Jun 19 '18 at 8:53
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    I see, but mir here is the part pf the phrase sich die Laune verderben right? Not part of lassen since it takes accusative? – Evil Racehorse Jun 19 '18 at 17:20
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Here, mir is a reflexive pronoun and part of the predicate. It has nothing to do with the object or the dative case. The infinitive is sich (die Laune) verderben lassen.

  • ich lasse mir die Laune verderben
  • du lässt dir die Laune verderben
  • er/sie/es lässt sich die Laune verderben
  • wir lassen uns die Laune verderben
  • ihr lasst euch die Laune verderben
  • sie lassen sich die Laune verderben
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    Thanks for the reply, but isn't mir here the dative form of sich in first person singular thus making it part of the infinitive? Also, in the original sentence can mir come after Von schlechtem Wetter, so the sentence reads: Ich lasse von schlechtem Wetter mir nicht die Laune verderben? – Evil Racehorse Jun 20 '18 at 0:39
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This form of dative is called the dativus (in)commodi. It expresses the person, to whose (dis)advantage some action is happening with the Dative.

jemandem die Laune verderben

thus puts the "jemand" into the dative, just like

jemandem den Koffer tragen

(Obviously, the first one is a disadvantage, the second one in advantage of the dative object)

In your example, the dative object is "ich", put into the dative: "mir"

Schlechte Nachrichten verderben mir nicht die Laune

now, this form is decorated with "lassen" (allowing to):

Ich lasse mir schlechte Nachrichten nicht die Laune verderben

Which is a bit awkward, as it is not directly obvious that "schlechte Nachrichten" is actually the accusative object of "lassen" - Thus, most people would say

Ich lasse mir von schlechten Nachrichten nicht die Laune verderben

"von" asks for the dative, so "Nachrichten" needs to be in dative as well and has changed from an accusative object into a prepositional object in dative. The "real" dative object is still "mir", for reasons of "dativus incommodi", just like in the simple first example.

The comment to your original question simply tried to state that "dativus (in)commodi" and the fact that "jemandem etwas verderben" asks for the dative is the same thing (because that verb form is always in favour/not in favour of someone), so there is only one single reason for the dative.

  • Thank you very much, I was not familiar with the concept of Dativus commodi and will check that out. In your second example jemandem den Koffer tragen, how does it translate exactly? I think it means to carry someone's suitcase but wouldn't jemandem be in genitive since the suitcase belongs to him? I'd appreciate more details on this example – Evil Racehorse Jun 20 '18 at 15:29
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    Dativus commodi does not transport a concept of ownership, but of benefit. In "ich trage ihr den Koffer" it's not even sure it is her suitcase, it simply says that she receives the benefit of not having to carry the suitcase herself. You could even say "Ich trage ihr den Koffer ihrer Mutter die Treppe hoch". A straightforward translation would be "I carry the suitcase for her" – tofro Jun 20 '18 at 15:38

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