In English I would commonly use phrases like "I could not get the meeting postponed." I have tried translating it to "Ich konnte den Termin nicht veschoben bekommen/kriegen." but nobody (in Germany) understood what I was trying to say exactly.

Instead of completely changing structure and saying something like "Der Termin konnte leider nicht verschoben werden" or "Der Termin lässt sich nicht verschieben", how could I say this right?

What I am looking for are general suggestions, not just something that works for postponing a meeting. That was only an example :)

  • 3
    I think changing the structure is inevitable.
    – David Vogt
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 7:44
  • 1
    As a native speaker, I suggest: Ich konnte keine Verschiebung des Treffens (des Termins) erreichen. Commented May 6, 2020 at 8:04
  • 5
    Ich konnte den Termin nicht verschoben bekommen. is perfectly fine. I don't see why anyone shouldn't be able to understand the meaning of that sentence.
    – Olafant
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


"To get X Y" is a construction expressing that you cause or allow some agent or event affect X with result Y. One German verb that can replace the meaning of "get" here is lassen, which can be used similar to a modal verb in at least two meanings: "to allow" (in a milder way, as in "I let her take my pencil"), or to cause to do (ich ließ ihn den Boden putzen "I had him clean the floor").

Using this, you can say Ich konnte den Termin nicht verschieben lassen. This more exactly corresponds something like "I could not let the meeting be postponed", but I think it's as close as it gets.

The reflexive sich nicht Y lassen is closely related to this, but just leaves out the agent part and states the possibility of Y as a fact: you didn't even try to cause Y.

Besides, while ich habe das Meeting nicht verschoben gekriegt might not be good formal German, it is quite understandable in a colloquial context (at least around people that know English, but I can only use introspection here). But it's more connotated as an allowance, not so much a cause (cf. ich habe den Vertrag nicht verlängert gekriegt). (Ditto for bekommen.)

  • 1
    This could be a bias of growing up with English, but when I hear ich ließ ihn den Boden putzen, what I understand is that he was eager to clean/wash the floor and I have allowed him to, as in letting him have an opportunity. Commented May 6, 2020 at 9:50
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    It can really be both without context. Maybe there's a tendency to either variant, but I can't really estimate it based on pure intuition. You'd have to do some kind of corpus analysis. Commented May 6, 2020 at 13:09
  • I feel this misses the question. Commented May 6, 2020 at 14:15
  • @infinitezero In what respect? Do you think it's a bad translation of the meaning of this construction? Commented May 6, 2020 at 14:19

First of all, ich habe den Termin nicht verschoben bekommen is a sentence I might have possibly used as well. Furthermore, the options you gave look fine to me. Additionally, you might also want to consider:

  • Ich habe es nicht geschafft, den Termin zu verschieben

  • Ich habe es nicht geschafft, den Termin verschieben zu lassen

There's also a very similar expression to the English one, etwas hinbekommen, which is a colloquial form of etwas schaffen, but with a focus on abilities. So

Ich habe es nicht hinbekommen, den Termin [zu verschieben/verschieben zu lassen]

would also be possible, but suggests that it was due to lacking abilities of the speaker.

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