Manchmal, wenn er mit diesem lächerlichen Haarschnitt partout nicht hatte zur Schule gehen wollen, hatte er es geschafft, dass sein Haar rasch nachwuchs…

I'm trying to learn German and I recently picked up reading; as a result I get exposed to a lot of new vocabulary.

I'm used that at the end of a clause (excluding Nachfeld) there're only verbs. Could it be that zur Schule forms a pair with gehen, the kind that acts like a separable verb, and that's why, to my surprise, there is something else than verbs at the end of this clause?

  • "something else than a verb at the end of this clause" - what is it? Jun 15, 2023 at 20:31
  • the verbal brackets (im pretty sure - but correct me if im wrong) in this clause my question is relevant to are "wenn" - the opening one, and "hatte zur Schule gehen wollen" - the closing one. I am trying to figure out why is zur Schule, a prepositional phrase part of a verbal bracket, as i am used to only see verbs inside them (at least in the closing ones).
    – Srmuiel
    Jun 15, 2023 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


Your sentence shows the Sonderregel of the ordering of infinitive verbs.
When the second infinitive verb is reigned by a modal verb, in your case wollen, the auxiliary haben is placed directly to the left of the two:
(Duden Grammar Nr.684)

, was sie nicht hatte machen wollen.

Duden Grammar Nr 686 tells us that if the Sonderregel is used, a constituent that is closely connected to the infinitive main verb can be pushed between haben and infinitive main verb:

, was sie nicht hatte in Anspruch nehmen müssen.
, was sie nicht in Anspruch hatte nehmen müssen.

, weshalb sie nicht hatte zur Schule gehen wollen.
, weshalb sie nicht zur Schule hatte gehen wollen.

It does not change any meaning.

Wenn is used as a temporal subjunction, like English "when".

  • fantastic.... great job, glad i waited and didn't assume stuff. this must be it!
    – Srmuiel
    Jun 16, 2023 at 23:41

I have also found the answer myself now encouraged by your answer in an English source:

Hammer's German Grammar and Usage 7th edition
19.1.3b(v) and 19.7.2 of which does also mention that "these phrases" are part of the verbal bracket (besides what you mentioned).

Feels bad when I could've found the answer myself in a book I own but for some reason I didn't imagine I could find the answer at the section of "verb order in the final position".

  • 1
    In Duden it is a very short paragraph of a few sentences too, so one can easily overlook it. Jun 17, 2023 at 13:01

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