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Attempting to translate this sentence from Asimov's, I, Robot:

Powell groaned. “Let’s get the brain in now, Mike!”

I said:

Powell stöhnte. »Lassen wir uns das Gehirn jetzt hineinstellen, Mike!«

But I was corrected to:

Powell stöhnte. »Lass uns das Gehirn jetzt hineinstellen, Mike!«

Why? DWDS shows many examples of both: lassen wir uns and lass uns. It isn't clear as to the difference, tho.

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    A small note on your corrected sentence: “hineinstellen” is used for things that stand (stehen) somewhere. For example a table, a cupboard, etc. A brain doesn’t stand in your head, so the verb is not appropriate here and sounds awkward, unless it's in a glass container or s.th.
    – nanash1
    Mar 17, 2023 at 11:10

2 Answers 2

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Look at the examples you link in DWDS. It means different things and is a different form of the verb 'lassen':

Lass uns... (etwas tun)

That is imperative singular. "Let us ... (do something)"

(Dabei) lassen wir uns (nicht stören).

This is Präsenz, a simple statement of a fact (simple present). This is translated slightly different, here like "We don't let us be disturbed (doing that)" / "We will not allow being disturbed (doing that)"

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  • "Lassen wir uns das nicht bieten!", for example as a call to action in a speech, is imperative first person plural. Perfectly fine. Like in "Gehen wir!", just negated. I think the difference is that "lassen" is already used in the indicative sensee ("wir lassen uns das bieten"), so it is a proper imperative of "lassen", while in "lasst uns ghen" "lassen" is inserted to construct the imperative. The indicative "wir lassen uns nicht stören" can very well be transformed into the imperative "Lassen wir uns dabei nicht stören!". Mar 17, 2023 at 2:14
  • One can, perhaps awkwardly, combine the imperative construction with "lassen" with phrases that have "lassen" already in the indicative: "wir lassen die Dinge, wie sie sind" -> "lasst uns uns die Dinge lassen, wie sie sind!". Or, direct imperative: "Lassen wir die Dinge, wie sie sind!" Mar 17, 2023 at 2:22
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The examples with "lassen wir uns" have a different context.

In the example in the question it is a proposal to the other person (Mike) to do something. If you speak to one person it is "lass uns", or "lasst uns" if you speak to more than one, or "lassen Sie uns" to formally address one or more persons.

The imperative (or Adhortativ) construction with "lassen" always uses the imperative form of "lassen" that addresses the other person(s) not including the speaker. It is implied that the speaker is included. This is different from the other imperative form.

Lass uns gehen (speaker and one other person, informal) = gehen wir

Lasst uns gehen (speaker and more than one other person, informal) = gehen wir

Lassen Sie uns gehen (speaker and one or more other persons, formal) = gehen wir

This form with lassen is only possible as an alternative to the standard imperative form for the first person plural, it cannot be used to replace the standard imperative form for other persons, e.g. 2nd person singular (geh).

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  • Bodo and planetmaker each answered half of the question, so all together it is answered. Thank you.
    – user44591
    Mar 16, 2023 at 18:54

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