Da dieses Thema sehr kompliziert ist, muss ich Englisch benutzen.

I originally wanted to say the sentence "The soul leaves last" as in the soul being the last thing to leave the body when you die:

"Die Seele lass zuletzt."

I did my usual web searching to check out this translation and it appears to actually mean in German:

"Leave the soul at last."

And that the correct way to translate my desired sentence was:

"Die Seele geht zuletzt."

Apparently my feeling that "lassen" means "to leave" is not correct? What is really intriguing is that, if my above assertions are correct, using "lassen" radically changes the sentence to an imperative or command form as in "Leave now!" rather than the my intended intent of passively describing something leaving something behind from the point of view of a witness or observer.

Can someone refine my understanding so that I can understand the nuances of using "lassen" vs. "gehen", so I can make better verb choices in the future? Also, is the idea of "going" here as in the case of using "gehen" truly representative of my desire to express the idea of something leaving something else behind? The case here being of course, the soul leaving the body behind.

Vielen Dank.

  • 1
    You could say "Zuletzt verlässt die Seele den Körper." oder "lässt die Seele den Körper zurück", wobei sich mir die Frage stellt, was denn vor der Seele den Körper verlässt und wohin, wenn Du unbedingt "lassen" unterbringen willst. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Your verb choice is wrong. It's a simple as that.

lassen — to let (with a lot of implications, e.g. modalness)

verlassen — to leave

The soul leaves at last.

Die Seele verlässt den Leib zuletzt.

You have to insert den Leib or den Körper or something else in the German sentence because verlassen requires an accusative object. And no, sich makes no sense.

Because of this shortcoming of verlassen, German speakers simply use gehen if they want to make a poetical statement.

Die Seele geht zuletzt.

That's actually a common meaning of gehen in German.

Mir reicht's! Ich gehe!

That's enough! I leave!

About lassen, this verb is a modal in German and has a lot of tricky meanings because of that. It's similar to English to let in this regard.

Lass mich gehen!

Let me go!

Of course, German adds another level of awesome complications by incorporating other words as prefixes and make lassen a whole group of verbs.

Lass mich los!

Let me go!

Du sollst mich loslassen!

You should let me go!

Waffe fallenlassen!

Let go (your) weapon!

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innsbruck,_ich_muss_dich_lassen
    – Beta
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 19:12
  • Well, that was the 15th century. I read an implied ver- or gehen, depending on who leaves whom.
    – Janka
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 19:14
  • 1
    It was meant tounge-in cheek ;)
    – Beta
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 19:18
  • 1
    And if the verb choice wasn't wrong, the inflection would be, which is what actually changes the meaning, no matter the verb.
    – vectory
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 7:14
  • @vectory "inflection" - can you elaborate on that please? Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:40

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