Is "informieren" always a transitive verb? According to whatever dictionary I can find, that seems to be the case. However, consider the following definition:

ein Lexikon, das über alles Wichtige und Interessante der verschiedenen (Wissens)Bereiche informiert

Is it wrong?

  • Which dictionaries are you referring to?
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 14:03
  • Langenschedit Großwörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 14:09
  • 1
    That dictionary doesn't use the terms transitive or intransitive (German dictionaries usually don't); instead it uses indications like jemanden (über etwas) informieren. Although I guess your point remains: on what basis are complements classified as optional (via parentheses).
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 14:26
  • Oops! I misunderstood your request. The said dictionary is what the quoted definition is from. I mean, pretty well every English-German dictionary has the transitive label for "informieren," including Langenscheidt's Standard Dictionary.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 14:28
  • In your example, "jemanden (über etwas) informieren." the "jemanden" is not in parentheses, indicating it is obligatory. That in turn means "informieren" is transitive.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


This may be a misunderstanding. A transitive verb is one, which allows an (typically: accusative) object, it does not mandate that object. So yes, informieren is transitive and is also often used in a reflexive way as in

Ich informiere mich über den aktuellen Stand.

  • Could you explain why "essen" has an intransitive label? Why the difference?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 13:30
  • @Apollyon: There are two meanings of the verb, from which the intransitive just describes the process of eating, compare e. g. wiktionary.
    – guidot
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 21:18
  • I am not sure If I really understand that. Couldn't "informieren" also describe, in your words, "the process of" informing? Delivering a piece of information is a process after all.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 23:52

Is it wrong?

No. German is pretty chatty and to fight that, we use all kind of ellipses.

  • Aldi wirbt nicht, Aldi informiert (uns)!

In practice, no one ever adds that uns. This for brevity.

  • I think it's more than that in your example; being as structurally similar in both parts of the sentence as possible also has an important part there. Moreover, I wouldn't say that it's "uns" that is ellipsed-away; "Aldi informiert" rather sounds like everyone is getting informed, rather than just "us". Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 8:15

Informieren is in fact in all cases a transitive verb. The second most common use is probably reflexive, when someone acquires certain knowledge for himself.

You may encounter some rare cases of usage without an object (note this doesn't necessarily mean the verb is intransitive), as in your example. This is when the object (who was informed) is implicitely obvious, as in your example (the reader) or in

Die Tagesschau informiert täglich mehrmals über das Weltgeschehen

(the viewer)

Der Regierungssprecher informierte über die aktuellen Vorgänge im Kabinett

(the public)

  • 1
    Why isn't an intransitive label listed for "informieren" when an intransitive label is listed for "essen"? Any rantionale?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 13:29
  • This answer sounds like transitivity/intransitivity of a verb is rather a semantic property than a grammatical one. Not sure whether that is the intention. Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 8:16

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