A: There is this huge dinosaur outside our window looking for its child.

B: Why is it peering at us?

A: Maybe it wants to gobble us alive and then digest the bones too.

B: Hmm, probably it does indeed.

Here we replaced the whole phrase wants to gobble us alive and then digest the bones too with merely does. Is such a structure allowed in German? Seeing as human laziness has no boundaries, there is bound to be one!


3 Answers 3


Such short sentences are possible in German and quite similar to the structure in English. They can be built by...

...replacing the main verb by an article + tun: (das = uns womöglich fressen)

A: Der Dinosaurier will uns womöglich fressen.

B: Wahrscheinlich will er das wirklich tun.

...replacing both verbs by etw. tun: (das = uns womöglich fressen wollen)

B: Wahrscheinlich tut er das wirklich.

...a short affirmative word (if you need to run away):

B: Wahrscheinlich.

In the above examples das can also be replaced by es.

  • 1
    But one should note that the verb tun is colloquial and teachers will always tell you to not use it, similar to the english ain't.
    – Sentry
    Feb 4, 2013 at 14:50
  • 2
    @Sentry Not if tun replaces an action that has mentioned before (as in the above examples). It's bad style if it's used instead of a more exact verb like herstellen, legen, platzieren,... or if used in infinitive constructions to avoid conjugating a verb. Example: Ich tu' morgen kochen. instead of Ich koche morgen.
    – Deve
    Feb 4, 2013 at 15:16
  • True, but I'd still replace it with machen if possible.
    – Sentry
    Feb 4, 2013 at 16:00
  • 1
    I really think this answer needs a change with regards to the modal verb before it can be considered correct. In the example of the question, nobody I know would say "Wharscheinlich will er das tun" let alone "Wahrscheinlich tut er das." which I would even consider wrong and confusing. "Wahrscheinlich will er das" is what most people would say
    – Emanuel
    Feb 4, 2013 at 18:11
  • @Emanuel I've thought about your comment for some time but really can't see why any of my translations should be "wrong and confusing". The usage of tun emphasizes the action referred to like in Will Peter jetzt wirklich jeden Tag mit dem Fahrrad in die Arbeit fahren? - Ja, das will er tun., which in my opinion some people would say, actually (including me). As you've provided an alternative answer, I will not change mine, because I don't think it's incorrect.
    – Deve
    Feb 6, 2013 at 8:08

As the other answers point out, generally a construction with tun will do. I think we need to add that this is not needed for the German modal verbs and at least to me it is odd to do so anyway.

"Will er schlafen?"

"Wahrscheinlich will er das.

"Kann er Französisch?"

"Das kann er."

"Musst du morgen arbeiten?"

"Ja, muss ich."

  • Danke, aber ist das zweite Verb Modalverb? Feb 4, 2013 at 6:17
  • In Deutsch ja...
    – Emanuel
    Feb 4, 2013 at 13:16

You can translate it with:

A: Vielleicht will er uns lebendig verschlingen und unsere Knochen verdauen.

B: Hmm, vermutlich tut/macht er es wirklich.

Where tut er es replaces will er uns lebendig verschlingen und unsere Knochen verdauen.

  • "Tut er es" would most likely be understood as referring to "uns lebendig verschlingen und unsere Knochen verdauen" (in the near future, even though "tut" is present tense). This is why Emanuel's suggestions are preferable.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 9, 2014 at 22:28

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