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I was wondering if this word is in common usage. I've tried creating English sentences that would translate using it, but the translator always comes back with "stecken", "legen", or some other verb. The only example sentences using it that I could find where either from scientific/academic sources, or the bible. In what contexts would it be more appropriate to use as compared to other verbs with a similar meaning?

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  • DWDS is a good place to find out how often a word is used; it gives hineintun a rating of 2 out of 7. DWDS also gives examples where the word is used in newpapers etc. I think generally machine translators will be biased in favor of using more common words. In the example I tried, going German->English->German, the translator substituted einbringen.
    – RDBury
    Aug 21 '20 at 20:08
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It is a normal German word, composed from the common prefix hinein (this describes a movement into something, seen from a point of view that is outside the target container) and the verb tun (to do, to perform) which also is very common.

The combined verb hineintun itself is not used very often, but it still is a valid and correct German word, that every native speaker will understand.

It's meaning can be derived from its two components: Literally it means "to do/perform something into something else". But a better translation of coarse is "to put something into something else". (Also "to put" is one of the many translations of "tun".)

But for moving things into something there are many other verbs, that describe the kind of movement more accurate than tun, and you also can combine all of them with the prefix hinein. And because they all provide more information about the movement, they are all used more frequently:

  • geben = to give, to put

    etwas in etwas anderes hineingeben
    to put something inside something else

  • stecken = to stick

    etwas in etwas anderes hineinstecken
    to stick something inside something else

  • werfen = to throw

    etwas in etwas anderes hineinwerfen
    to throw something inside something else

  • stellen = to put, so that it then stands upright

    etwas in etwas anderes hineinstellen
    to put something inside something else so that is then stands upright

  • legen = to put, so that it then lays flat

    etwas in etwas anderes hineinlegen
    to put something inside something else so that is then lays flat

  • and many more

And because all these verbs provides more information that tun or hineintun, it is good style to prefer them over tun/hineintun.


Note, that all verbs that start with the prefix hinein- are separable verbs:

Futur I: Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer hineinlegen.
I will put my shirt into the suitcase.

Präsens: Ich lege das Hemd in den Koffer hinein.
I will put my shirt into the suitcase.

And very often you also can read from the context, that the movement has a target inside something, and that the speaker is outside this container. So very often the prefix "hinein-" doesn't provide any additional information ant therefore can be omitted:

Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer legen.
Ich lege das Hemd in den Koffer.

This it true for hineintun too. The following sentences all have the same meaning (disregarding that legen and stecken carry more information than tun):

Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer hineintun.
Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer hineinlegen.
Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer tun.
Ich werde das Hemd in den Koffer legen.
I will put the shirt into the suitcase.

Also:

Ich werde den Steckling in the Erde hineintun.
Ich werde den Steckling in the Erde hineinstecken.
Ich werde den Steckling in the Erde tun.
Ich werde den Steckling in the Erde stecken.
I will stick the seedling into the earth.

So, it is ok, that a back-translation of hineintun returns legen or stecken or any other verb of movement.

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    "The combined verb hineintun itself is not used very often, but it still is a valid and correct German word, that every native speaker will understand." Germans (German speakers?) are taught at school, not to use tun as an auxiliary verb. It's probably a kind of hypercorrection, but use of the verb tun is often considered bad style.
    – Roland
    Aug 21 '20 at 6:33
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    @Roland: It is not use tun as an auxiliary verb in my examples: Usage as auxiliary verb: »Erich tut den Deckel auf den Topf geben.« This is not standard German. You can find it in colloquial speech, but in standard German this is wrong. Compare to the usage as full verb: »Erich tut den Deckel auf den Topf.« This is correct standard German, but bad style, because you could use a more accurate verb like »Erich gibt den Deckel auf den Topf.« But there are sentences, where it is ok to use tun, like in this example »Ilse tut nichts den ganzen Tag.« or »Was tust du hier?« Aug 21 '20 at 7:41
  • Umm, I haven't claimed that it is used as an auxiliary verb in your examples. Also, »Erich gibt den Deckel auf den Topf.« is Austrian/Southern German.
    – Roland
    Aug 21 '20 at 8:00
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    @Roland Really? I'm Austrian, so this didn't occur to me. What would you say instead in non-colloquial style? Setzt? Aug 21 '20 at 11:29
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    @phipsgabler Ich lege den Deckel auf den Topf.
    – Roland
    Aug 21 '20 at 12:10
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As already answered, hineintun is perfectly legal.

I strongly assume, that the reason for the rare occurrence is, that there is a shorter variant, saving a whole syllable:

Duden: reintun

It would have considered it as colloquial, but Duden does not confirm this.

It could be used as in

Hast du schon Salz ins Nudelwasser reingetan?

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  • If a directional preposition such as ins Nudelwasser is present, I personally would just use tun. Conversely, I would use reintun when it is absent: Hast du schon Salz reingetan?
    – David Vogt
    Aug 21 '20 at 8:19
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    I think "reintun" is in the example of "Nudelwasser" a slangy word, because using of "hinein" or "(he)rein" depends on the direction, the relation from the speaker to the pot. If the direction is from the speaker into the pot --> "hinein". If the speaker sits in a big pot, so the salt comes to him, then --> "herein". But in colloquial language German speakers makes usually no difference between "herein" and "hinein". Aug 21 '20 at 10:29

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