Consider the following sentence in English:

I am looking to meet someone in person to practice German.

My attempt to try to translate this into German leads to the following result:

Ich suche jemanden, um persönliche zu treffen, um Deutsch zu üben.

The one concern that I have about my result is that it places more than one um ... zu clause within the same sentence and I don't believe that I have seen any German sentences with more than one um ... zu clause. Is it grammatically permissible/natural to chain together multiple um ... zu clauses?

  • 1
    Man kann wohl. Dennoch hat der Still Vierbesserungspotenzial.
    – c.p.
    Jun 8, 2021 at 7:11
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    Ich würde sogar sagen Fünfbesserungspotential :-) "Jetzt können sie aber mal überlegen anzufangen aufzuhöhren gas zu geben !" Hitchhiker, a long time ago, commenting my driving style ...
    – user41853
    Jun 8, 2021 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


Note that "um ... zu" in German has a much stronger notion of purpose than the infinitive in English. You don't look for someone for the purpose of meeting him - but rather you look for someone to meet him.

Thus, you would typically rather use a relative clause like in

Ich suche jemanden, mit dem ich mich treffen kann, um gemeinsam Deutsch zu üben.

As for your actual question:

Yes, you can, in principle, chain "zu"-infinitives in German (provided the "purpose" notion would fit your sentence). But you probably wouldn't because it will create wierd-sounding sentences.

Wir treffen uns heute zu einem Meeting, um den Plan zu verabschieden, um endlich weiterzukommen.

But you would rather use a relative clause again here like in

Wir treffen uns heute zu einem Meeting, bei dem wir den Plan verabschieden wollen, wie wir endlich weiterkommen.


Yes, you can chain up multiple um-zu clauses without a problem. Obviously, it's not as short and elegant as in English though. You're repeating um and zu, which can make it sound a bit clumsy. It might be better style to avoid this, but there's no grammatical problem with it.

About your translation: you decided to make "jemanden" an object of "Ich suche" while it is an object of "to meet" in English. This leaves "treffen" without an object, which doesn't work.

"I am looking to [do something]" can be translated as "Ich würde gerne [etwas tun]" or "Ich beabsichtige, [etwas zu tun]".

I would translate it as:

Ich würde gern jemanden persönlich treffen, um Deutsch zu üben.


Ich würde mich gern mit jemandem persönlich treffen, um Deutsch zu üben.

If you'd rather use "jemanden suchen", you can do that, but then you run into a little gendering issue with the pronoun you need as an object for treffen:

Ich suche jemanden, um sie oder ihn persönlich zu treffen, um Deutsch zu üben.

You could use "sich [mit jemandem] treffen" instead of "jemanden treffen" to avoid that. (It's slightly colloquial to leave out the "mit ..." object here.)

Ich suche jemanden, um sich persönlich zu treffen, um Deutsch zu üben.

You probably also see how "um...zu" is a bit repetitive here. It's fine in my opinion though as long as it's only twice. There are ways to circumvent this, like:

Ich suche eine Person, mit der ich mich treffen kann, um Deutsch zu üben.

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