I'm totally jumping into German so due apologies — I'm trying to figure out how gekommen works:

(1) Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit.


(2) Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit gekommen.

What's the difference here? Is gekommen introducing a change of tense?

  • 1
    "Ist in Vergenssenheit gekommen" literally means "has come into oblivion", although most Germans would say "Ist in Vergessenheit geraten". Apr 17 '19 at 11:14
  • Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit.
    The question is forgotten.

    This describes a state in the present. The tense of the German sentence is Präsens (very close related, but not equal to English present tense). The verb "ist" (a form of "sein" = "to be") is used as a full verb here.

  • Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit gekommen.
    The question became forgotten.

    This describes a transition that happened in the past. The tense of the German sentence is Perfekt (related to English past tense). The Verb "ist" is here used as an auxiliary verb. It has no semantic function here, it is needed only for grammatical reasons, to build the tense Perfekt. The full verb is "gekommen", this is a form of "kommen" (normally "to come", but here, in this context: "to become"). In Präsens you don't need the auxiliary verb, and the full verb goes to position 2 (it also changes its form). So you get:

    Die Frage kommt in Vergessenheit.
    The question becomes forgotten.

But "gekommen" is second choice here. There is an idiomatic phrase in German for "becoming forgotten":

Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit geraten. (Tense: Perfekt)
Die Frage gerät in Vergessenheit. (Tense: Präsens)

In German you use "Vergessenheit" like a hidden place where questions, memories and other stuff moves. You don't do this in English. In English you use the past participle of the verb to forget to describe the same fact.

  • 2
    "Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit", ohne weiteres Verb, habe ich noch nie gehört und ich würde auf ein Verb warten, wenn ich es höre. Apr 16 '19 at 8:16
  • 1
    @userunknown Stimmt, aber andererseits ist es nicht völlig ungrammatisch. Wenn jemand ein Gedicht schreibt (über eine Frage?!) könnte das dann schon so drinnen stehen.
    – sgf
    Apr 16 '19 at 9:36
  • 1
    Es ist nicht ungrammatisch, aber einem Neulerner empfiehlt man keine Idiomatik, die kein Muttersprachler nutzt, ohne Warnung, nur weil es jemand sagen/verstehen könnte. Gerade weil es nicht ungrammatisch ist würde ich von der Formulierung abraten. Apr 17 '19 at 7:51

Hardly any native or fluent speaker would say

Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit.

German speakers would rather say:

Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit geraten.

... ist in Vergessenheit geraten is a fixed construction, meaning ... has become forgotten (literally: has come into oblivion or has come to be forgotten).

You could say:

Die Frage ist in Vergessenheit gekommen.

but it would sound unusual. The construction in ... gekommen is generally not used with Vergessenheit. But you can say:

Diese Röcke sind in Mode gekommen

Meaning these skirts have become fashionable or, more literally, these skirts have come to be in fashion.

  • I agree. Number (1) is not correct, or in any case not idiomatic.
    – fdb
    Apr 17 '19 at 14:39

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