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I have two sentences as below:

Er muss lernen, das Auto zu fahren.

Er muss lernen, um das Auto zu fahren.

Which one is correct and what is the difference between these sentences?

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    Both sentences are problematic in respect to punctuation and missing uppercase for substantive Auto. After correcting that, they mean different things, and I can't recognize from the question, what the desired meaning is. In the second example the learning might have a different topic than driving itself.
    – guidot
    Feb 10 at 16:11
  • Technically speaking, the second one can also be translated as "he has to learn to drive around the car", where um is used as a preposition. But that's a highly improbable usage. Feb 11 at 13:49
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Both sentences are grammatically correct (I'll correct orthography im my citations below), but they have slightly different meanings.

Er muss lernen, das Auto zu fahren. - He has to learn to drive the car.

Here, "das Auto zu fahren" is an accusative object, it's the answer to the question "What does he have to learn?".

Er muss lernen, um das Auto zu fahren. - He has to learn in order to drive the car.

Here, "um das Auto zu fahren" is not a direct object, it's not the answer to the question "what?", but rather the answer to "why does he have to learn?". The direct object is missing in this sentence, so it is not stated what the person has to learn in order to drive the car.

The more common sentence of the two will probably be "Er muss lernen, das Auto zu fahren."

If you want to say "He has to learn how to drive a car" (any car), that would be "Er muss lernen, ein Auto zu fahren" or, in a more abstract sense: "Er muss lernen, Auto zu fahren".

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Er muss lernen, Auto zu fahren.

Er muss lernen, das Auto zu fahren.

Er muss lernen, um das Auto zu fahren.

All mean different things.

Er muss lernen, Auto zu fahren. -> He needs to learn to drive a car.

This is the usual meaning, to very generally learn how to drive a car, and which would apply to any car.

Er muss lernen, das Auto zu fahren. -> He needs to learn to drive the car.

Sounds unusual, and would only be valid if it is about a specific car, e.g. one that is very difficult or peculiar to drive, like a 1920s racing car.

Er muss lernen, um das Auto zu fahren. -> He needs to study in order to drive the car.

Extremely unusual (but still not really wrong from a grammatical point of view), and from context »lernen« takes on another meaning here. It would mean “to study”, and he would have to study so somebody would allow him to drive the car. But this would usually be said a very different way (e.g. »Er muss noch mehr lernen, um das Auto fahren zu dürfen.«).

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Both are correct sentences with a whole bunch of possible meanings, including some they share.
What if he's riding a bike and keeps on crashing into a car?
Then shouldn't he learn how to ride around it?
Er muss (dann) lernen, um das Auto zu fahren, (statt vor quer dadurch).

Try compare calling your mother to calling for your mother.
One three letter word and the whole thing changes dramatically.
It all depends on what you're trying to say.
What is the message?

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