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These meanings, I think, are clear:

Wieso lassen wir uns das gefallen? Why do we put up with this?

Lass uns das gefallen. Let's put up with it.

Wir lassen uns das gefallen. We put up with it. (or is it, We can put up with it.?)

But what about

Lassen wir uns das gefallen?

If I compare this to several similar sentences from DWDS:

Lassen wir uns nicht hinreißen. Let's not get carried away. or Do not let us get carried away.

Lassen wir uns hier anfangen. Let's start here.

Lassen wir uns nicht verarschen. Let's not be fooled. or Do not let us be fooled.

I am led to believe that »Lassen wir uns das gefallen« means "Let's put up with it". But then, what is the difference with, »Lass uns das gefallen«? And why are the examples above from DWDS not in imperative form?

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    "Lassen uns das gefallen" ist kein Satz. "Lassen wir uns" ebenfalls nicht. Mar 17, 2023 at 0:00

2 Answers 2

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Let's go through all of this, there are some subtle incorrect assumptions in the question.

The main issue is that there's a mix of three uses of "lassen" in the question, and we need to untangle that:

(1) as part of the expression "sich etwas gefallen lassen" "to put up with something". (Note how "lassen" is part of the German expression, but there is no "let" in the English translation.)

(2) "Lass(t) uns [etwas tun]!" "Let's [do something]!" (requesting, invitational, note the imperative form "Lass(t)")

(3) The use of inverted first person plural as a request/invitation in German (translated with "let's"). This works with lassen as well as with other verbs:

Gehen wir noch ein bisschen weiter. Let's go a little bit further.
Trinken wir noch ein Bier. Let's drink another beer.
Lassen wir uns nicht ablenken. Let's not get carried away (using: sich ablenken lassen - to get carried away)

Note how in the last example, "lassen" in the German sentence is first person plural and part of the expression, so it has a completely different form and function from what the verb "let" has in the English sentence, where it's in imperative form and has the function to make the sentence a request.

So let's go through your examples (Gehen wir deine Beispiele durch, or: Lass uns deine Beispiele durchgehen):

Wieso lassen wir uns das gefallen? Why do we put up with this?

Correct.

Lass uns das gefallen. Let's put up with it.

No, that German sentence doesn't have any meaning. Someone tried to mix two senses (1) and (2) of lassen from above, which doesn't work. The translation of Let's put up with it. would either need two forms of "lassen", one for each of the meanings: "Lass uns uns das gefallen lassen.", or, stylistically more elegant, could use (3): "Lassen wir uns das gefallen.".

Wir lassen uns das gefallen. We put up with it. (or is it, We can put up with it.?)

Correct. It's We put up with it. A simple statement, nothing to do with the "Let's ..." meaning.

Lassen wir uns das gefallen?

With the question mark, this just means "Do we put up with this?" No connection with the request forms (2) or (3).

Your examples from DWDS:

Lassen wir uns nicht hinreißen. Let's not get carried away. or Do not let us get carried away.

This is form (3), a request using 1st person plural.

Lassen wir uns hier anfangen. Let's start here.

The German sentence makes no sense. It can't be a form (3), because "sich anfangen lassen" doesn't exist as an expression. The English phrase "Let's start here" would be either "Lass(t) uns hier anfangen." (form (2), imperative) or "Fangen wir hier an." (Form 3)

Lassen wir uns nicht verarschen. Let's not be fooled. or Do not let us be fooled.

This is a correct form (3) of "sich verarschen lassen". ("verarschen" is much more vulgar than "to fool" though).

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  • Thank you for the clear and detailed response. But you have, unfortunately, used the idea of "an expression" as an explanation. Assuming that is even grammar, it isn't helpful to me. What is an expression? I check DWDS and immediately find, »So einfach lassen wir uns nicht unterkriegen.« Does sich unterkriegen lassen exist as an "expression" or is this just another mistake by a German writer, who, by the way, was printed in Die Zeit in 2017? I have no way of knowning.
    – user44591
    Mar 17, 2023 at 13:46
  • @user44591: I called it an "expression" in the answer, you can as well call it an idiom or just vocabulary, but are you saying that "sich etwas gefallen lassen" does not translate as "to put up with something"? Because that's acually all that matters for the answer, and from your question, I understood that you agreed with that. How would you call such a combination of verb(s) and prepositions with a fixed meaning, like "to put up with something" or "to let go of sth./so."?
    – HalvarF
    Mar 17, 2023 at 17:08
  • I think my question was misunderstood. I find "lassen wir uns" appearing in many existing sentences in German print. One of them was, »Lassen wir uns hier anfangen.« for example. Now, you say that is nonsense. OK. If so, how do I tell whether the others I find are also nonsense or are some idiomatic expression, which I have no way of verifying? My question is about the usage of lassen wir uns, in general, not in one particular case. Search lassen wir uns on DWDS and you will find it is used extensively and variously.
    – user44591
    Mar 17, 2023 at 20:15
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    @user44591 Ok, I see. "Sich etwas gefallen lassen" is indeed not the best example because it is an idiomatic expression that has a very different meaning than when you take its words literally. In the more general form though, you have a verb that takes a person object, like "(jemanden) verarschen" or "(jemanden) ablenken", then you can always also use "sich ... lassen" with it in the form of "sich verarschen lassen", "sich ablenken lassen". And "Lassen wir uns nicht verarschen" is just a sentence using that. It doesn't work with "anfangen" because that doesn't take a person as an object.
    – HalvarF
    Mar 17, 2023 at 21:27
  • Yes, this is clear and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.
    – user44591
    Mar 18, 2023 at 0:28
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gefallen ... lassen has two separate meanings and - as with every homonymy - it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two.

The first meaning, as you have found yourself, is idiomatic, to put up with sth,. A second meaning is not idiomatic: lassen acts as a Modalverb here and gefallen is used in its original meaning "to like, to enjoy". i.e.:

Nun lasset uns das gefallen.

would be a bit old-fashioned for "Now, let us enjoy this."

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  • That is interesting and knowing that this can be said with standard grammar is quite helpful. But "lasset" is perplexing to me. I do not find that in the conjugation of lassen. What is that?
    – user44591
    Mar 17, 2023 at 13:50

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