I am trying to figure out how to express the small difference between something (crime/accusation) "hanging over somebody", and "sticking to somebody", in German. By "hanging over", I mean, the person will always be associated with the crime. By "sticking to", I mean that he/she will not be able to avoid being punished for the crime.

After some research, my intuition tells me "jemandem anhängen", and "an jemandem haften bleiben", express these differences. Consider the following sentences:

  1. This shady past will always hang over our country.

1.1. Diese zwielichte Vergangenheit wird unserem Land immer anhängen.

  1. No accusation ever sticks to him.

2.1. Keiner Vorwurf haftet an ihm bleiben.

Would you say that I am on the right track here? Thanks!

  • Would you mind to integrate your research? As you ask to "check" your intuition I'm just curious about your sources. Your examples itself seem on the right track so far. Feb 17, 2020 at 7:28
  • 1
    Der Satzbau müsste in 2.1 lauten: "Kein Vorwurf bleibt an ihm haften". Davon abgesehen finde ich die Beispiele prima, aber die Erklärung schwach: "Hanging over somebody" doesn't imply "always"; that's why you need "always" in English, too. "Sticking to" is ihmo especially used, when somebody is not punished. Feb 17, 2020 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


Your translations are pretty good.

I would just add für to the first sentence

Diese zwielichtige Vergangenheit wird unserem Land für immer anhängen.

Without it the meaning of immer would be more like repeatedly. But I think that's also true for your english version.

Haften bleiben turns into ... bleibt haften ... if conjugated and it's keiner Vorwurf. So your second sentence needs to be slightly changed into

Kein Vorwurf bleibt an ihm haften.

Other than that: pretty well translated!

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