Kann ich mir die im Laufe der Woche ausleihen holen kommen?

A friend of mine wrote this sentence. I have never come across 3 verbs in a single sentence like this.

One more thing: Why and when to use definite articles, like stated in the sentence die instead of sie, when referring to things?

Can someone analyse it for me please?

  • 5
    It's even four verbs with "kann" :-) Also, quite colloquial. Can you say how you tried to analyze it and how far you came? You basically start with kann and then add the infinitives starting from the last one. – HalvarF May 31 at 8:09
  • 1
    Please only one question at a time. Regarding the second question, I found german.stackexchange.com/questions/47986/…, but I think there were also questions which were more similar to yours. – Carsten S May 31 at 9:10
  • 6
    "Mögen hätten wir schon gewollt, aber dürfen haben wir uns nicht getraut" - Frei nach Karl Valentin :-) – a_donda May 31 at 9:53
  • @HalvarF I could not analyse this in a technical way at all, since I haven't studied this in my language courses nor came across such three "Vollverben" in addition to a "Modalverb" .. Just grabbed the meaning of this since it is kind of obvious "to come and to collect and to borrow" .. But didn't know such sentence is actually valid even in colloquial speech. The one I studied and know is the version of a_donda: Könnte ich im Laufe der Woche kommen, um mir die auszuleihen, bitte ? Anw, life is full of surprises :D – Yousif H May 31 at 10:56
  • The sentence looks ungrammatical to me. I, for one, cannot combine holen with a bare infinitive. Regarding the topic of verbs governing bare infinitives, see german.stackexchange.com/questions/50159/…. – David Vogt May 31 at 17:23

As said by @HalvarF, there are actually four verbs in the phrase. It's colloquial speech, trying to ask a favour and showing some blush with leaving open a possibility that the request might be denied.

Let's get to the meaning

Kann ich im Laufe der Woche kommen ?


Kann ich mir die ausleihen ?

is concatenated to

Kann ich mir die im Laufe der Woche ausleihen kommen ?

An additional "holen" isn't necessary, leaving it out doesn't change the meaning. But without it the question might be a bit short, depending on the tone could be interpreted in the direction of demanding rather than asking a favour.

A version with more applied grammar (use of Konjunktiv) would be:

Könnte ich im Laufe der Woche kommen um mir die auszuleihen, bitte ?

But don't try this doubling of verbs ("ausleihen holen kommen") with the intention to signal an unsure outcome if you don't know how to use it, it could also be misunderstood as joking.

As to the article, if it is clear from the context which specific things your friend is asking to pick up, then an indefinete article doesn't make sense here. I assume your friend speaks about specific things they want to borrow, and these have a definite article.

  • My understanding is the die is a demonstrative pronoun here. There is a series of them which look just like definite articles, but they appear on their own so they are pronouns. I'm a bit unsure myself when you would use die instead of sie; you'd translate either into English as "they/them" (or possibly "she/her"). English demonstrative pronouns work differently so the exact meanings are hard to compare. – RDBury May 31 at 16:12
  • PS. As you say, this is rather informal. "Can I come and get them to borrow during the week?" would be equally informal in English but the meaning is clear and it probably wouldn't raise any eyebrows between friends. – RDBury May 31 at 16:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.