Lassen + Vollverb benimmt sich wie ein Modalverb. Normalerweise sollte den folgenden Satz richtig sein:

Ich hoffe, dass wir Sie nicht zu lange haben warten lassen.

Könnten Sie das bestätigen? Welche andere Verben benehmen sich auch so? Ich habe schon bemerkt, das sich lassen, sehen und hören so verhalten. Mein Grammatikbuch nennt auch helfen. Was wäre ein Beispiel mit helfen im Perfekt oder Plusquamperfekt?

Ein anderes Beispiel: Sind die folgenden Sätze korrekt?

Er hörte den Schnee auf den Dächern tauen und in der Nähe des Brunnens fallen.

(Das klingt ziemlich gut für mich.)

Er hat den Schnee auf den Dächern tauen und in der Nähe des Brunnens fallen hören.

Der doppelte Infinitiv kommt mir seltsamer vor.

  • "Der doppelte Infinitiv" ist der Ersatzinfinitiv. Wikipedia hat einen Artikel darüber und es gibt mehrere Fragen darüber auf dieser Website.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 10:52
  • Eine der Ersatzinfinitiv-Fragen ist diese.
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 11:13
  • 1
    Very good answers here: german.stackexchange.com/q/50159/35111
    – David Vogt
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


This is only going to be a partial answer, but I noticed that the previous version of this question didn't get any answers. German grammars seem to define "modal" verbs as the verbs which fall on a canonical list: dürfen, können, mögen, müssen, sollen and wollen. Coincidentally, these are six of the seven preterite-present verbs, the remaining one being wissen. But there are several other verbs which, like a modal verb, require the infinitive of another verb as an "object". (The technical term for this is apparently Catenative verb.) There are several verbs of perception like this: sehen, hören, etc. For example: Ich sehe dich rennen. As you mentioned, lassen is another one: Ich lasse dich laufen. These are not exactly the same as modal verbs though, since they require an additional accusative object not required by the second verb. So with müssen, the basic sentence plan with an intransitive verb is subject+müssen+verb, but the basic sentence plan with lassen is subject+lassen+accusative object+verb. These verbs seem to be exceptions though since it seems more typical to use the zu infinitive rather than the bare infinitive: Ich bitte dich zu laufen.

I did mention this is only a partial answer and I don't have a list of such exceptions. One of them is helfen, as you mentioned. In that case the zu seems to be optional depending on the circumstances; I'm not totally clear on the details myself. But I don't think there are any general rules and it appears that usage varies for individual verbs. Another example is Wir gehen spazieren.

Apologies for answering in English; a long discussion in German would be a bit much for me.

PS. It's apparent from some of the comments that I was unclear on something. I didn't mean to say that only verbs that take an accusative object can be exceptions. I just meant that lassen and the perception verbs do, which is perhaps a reason for not considering them "true" modal verbs. As Tilman Schmidt pointed out, helfen actually takes a dative object. Also spazieren gehen (no space prior to 1996) is considered a single verb, so not a good example. But gehen does seem to combine with a number of other verbs in a very "modal" manner, so to me it's still an edge case.

Wiktionary has a list of English catenative verbs. It would be nice to have something similar for German verbs, but I haven't been able to find it if such a thing exists. (The link in David Vogt's comment above seems like a good start though.) Both English and German make a distinction between the to/zu infinitive and the bare infinitive. English sometimes also uses a gerund where German would use the infinitive, which complicates things on the English side. According to the list, there are four verbs, other than modal verbs, which take a bare infinitive: "dare" (especially in the negative), "help" (the "to" is optional), and "come/go" (to me these are questionable). Since German and English are related, if distantly, I imagine the list for German is similar with allowances for the gerund.

  • Note that helfen differs from sehen or lassen in that it takes a Dativ object. "Ich helfe dir tragen" as opposed to "Ich sehe dich laufen." Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:23
  • "Wir gehen spazieren" is something different entirely. It is a conjugated form of the Trennverb spazierengehen. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:28
  • @TilmanSchmidt What about Wir gehen essen? (Or wir sind dann mal essen, for that matter.)
    – David Vogt
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 18:36
  • @Tilman Schmidt: On Wir gehen spazieren, that makes sense, though DWDS lists it as a phrasal verb gehen spazieren. Other combinations are possible as well: I found Sie ist wandern gegangen, Ich will tanzen gehen in the DWDS usage database. It's hard to tell if they're phrasal verbs or gehen combined with another verb; the conjugation and word order seem to be the same either way.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 18:46
  • Sure, there is gehen with an infinitive, but in my opinion it doesn't qualify as a modal verb, and in any event it never has an accusative object. Even in "Ich gehe sie besuchen" the sie isn't an accusative object to gehen, but to besuchen. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 22:50

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