I was studying this verb "gehören" and inter alia found the following meaning - "sth. is necessary for sth., i.e. it takes something to do something". Here is an example for illustration purposes

Es gehört schon große Frechheit dazu, sich so zu benehmen.

I guess my question is how to make sense of this "Es gehört … dazu" structure in a literal sense. Just so I understand the mechanics so to speak.

  • 3
    English it takes is as mysterious. You have to accept it as a fixed phrase.
    – Janka
    Jun 30, 2023 at 12:11

2 Answers 2


Gehören in this use requires a prepositional object headed by zu.

Meiner Meinung nach gehört große Frechheit zu so einem Benehmen.

A literal translation would be in my opinion, great impudence is required for such behaviour.

Prepositional objects can be replaced by compounds of da(r)- and a preposition called Präpositionaladverbien. These can serve several distinct functions. In the given example, dazu is an obligatory Korrelat that indicates that a clause (that is to be interpreted as the object of the preposition) follows.

Meiner Meinung nach gehört große Frechheit dazu, sich so zu benehmen.

Alternatively, Präpositionaladverbien can be used as pronouns, referring back to something previously mentioned.

Sprachen lernen ist nicht einfach. Dazu gehört Mut.

In that example, dazu is interpreted as referring back to the subject of the previous clause: Zum Sprachenlernen gehört Mut.

Some other examples.

Sie wartete auf einen Anruf.
Sie wartete darauf, angerufen zu werden.

Er glaubte fest an den Erfolg seiner Idee.
Seine Idee würde Erfolg haben. Daran glaubte er fest.


Here, the verb is not gehören but dazugehören. The latter is a separable verb, i.e., the prefix dazu- is separated in certain sentence structures, such as in your example sentence

Es gehört schon große Frechheit dazu

This topic is a bit too complex to be outlined here (When/ when not is the prefix separated? Where does the prefix go? And so on.). Therefore, I suggest looking up the keywords separable verbs or trennbare Verben at a German learning source of your choice.

  • 1
    Knowing how a separable verb works, and remembering to check for them is another, so it takes practice to get into the habit. Learners generally aren't used to bit of words breaking off and wandering around the sentence on their own.
    – RDBury
    Jun 30, 2023 at 15:58
  • @RDBury Learning German requires you to hunt your prey - It won't come to you on its own ;)
    – tofro
    Jul 1, 2023 at 6:44
  • Wer auch immer die Antwort abgewertet hat, möge sich bitte erklären – vor allem, wieso er die Antwort für falsch hält. Jul 4, 2023 at 18:12
  • I did not downvote the answer, but I do not find it helpful. The question isn't about separable verbs; it's about the meaning of gehören zu. How the prepositional object is realised doesn't really matter. You could just as well use es gehört schon große Frechheit zu so einem Benehmen as an example.
    – David Vogt
    Jul 4, 2023 at 18:28
  • 1
    @DavidVogt, I disagree. According to his first sentence, the OP already knows roughly what it means (only the title is a bit misleading); but more importantly, he directly writes: "[...] my question is how to make sense of this "Es gehört … dazu" structure [...]" Jul 4, 2023 at 18:39

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