I was thinking about a sentence on the way home I wanted to translate -

I didn't have time to relax.

and I was planning to use the perfekt tense.

Now, I can start the sentence structure by saying (or at least I think I can) -

Ich habe nicht Zeit gehabt.

but I was thinking, is the part of the sentence 'to relax' an infinitive clause?

i.e. does the complete sentence:

Ich habe nicht Zeit zu entspannen gehabt.

make sense?

  • Zeit is a noun and therefore must be written with uppercase Z, and German sentences must end with a full stop (or some other punctuation mark). I corrected this for you. Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 15:14
  • I highly recommend looking up "nicht vs kein" as well.
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


The verb entspannen is most commonly used transitive, i.e. with an accusative object. Therefore, while English relax is often used without an object, this meaning is preferrably expressed in German with a reflexive pronoun:

Zeit, mich zu entspannen

Moreover, it is very uncommon to negate haben (the full verb) with an amount, a mass noun, or similar contexts. In German, you have no / none of something. You only don't have a specific item:

Ich habe keine Zeit gehabt.

You end up with:

Ich habe keine Zeit gehabt, mich zu entspannen.

You could also say:

Ich habe keine Zeit mich zu entspannen gehabt.

But this word order makes the sentence a little "bumpy".

Alternatively, you can nominalize entspannen. I suppose this is the most common phrasing:

Ich habe keine Zeit zum Entspannen gehabt.

Also note that Zeit, being a noun, has to be capitalized regardless of its position in the sentence.

  • "The verb entspannen is mandatorily transitive, i.e. it always requires an accusative object." Says who? Duden themselves offer a counterexample: "hier konnten wir ruhen und entspannen". Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 21:00
  • @Rakentenolli Thanks! I didn't know the intranstive use was merely uncommon (as stated immediately below your counterxample) and had deemed it an anglicism. I've updated my answer.
    – Hans-Jakob
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 5:22

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