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I encountered an issue with the Infinitivsatz. I learned that "The transformation into the Infinitivsatz clause is only possible if the subject or object of the main clause (Hauptsatzes) is also the subject of the subordinate clause (Nebensatzes) with 'Dass'." So, are these sentences correct or incorrect? Did I understand it correctly?

Die Frau hat mich gebeten, das Fenster zu schließen und den Müll rauszubringen.
Die Frau hat mich gebeten, dass ich das Fenster schließe und den Müll rausbringe.

Mein Vater wollte, Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen zu hätten.
Mein Vater wollte, dass Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen hätte.

Der Schriftsteller erinnert sich daran, einen Preis gewonnen zu haben.
Der Schriftsteller erinnert sich daran, dass er einen Preis gewonnen hat.

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  • What you learned sounds correct... but I'm German, so I don't know the grammar rules, but can't come up with a counter-example right now to 'your' rule :) However, thus and de-facto the 2nd example is ungrammatical, as the subject of main clause and subjunctive clause are different (Dein Vater vs. Roger Federer): "Mein Vater wollte, dass Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnt" or "Mein Vater wünschte, Roger Federer hätte einen anderen Grandslam gewonnen" might be possible solutions (the 2nd example sounds somewhat odd with "wollte" instead of "wünschte" to me). Mar 4 at 14:01
  • The German noun Frau (woman) is not masculine, but feminine (wrong: der Frau. correct: die Frau), and the verb shouldn't be geboten*(offered) but *gebeten (asked). I have corrected this and some other minor errors and I also improved the formatting. Mar 4 at 14:16
  • @HubertSchölnast Thank you.
    – lail lifey
    Mar 4 at 16:29
  • To tell whether you understand the rule correctly one needs to know how you understand it, but this does not become clear from your question. Given your understanding of the rule, which sentences do you consider correct?
    – RHa
    Mar 4 at 16:44
  • Your 2nd Infinitivsatz does not work, because "Roger Federer" is nominative. You could write: Mein Vater wollte den Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen sehen". SInce I can say "Ich sehe dich das Spiel gewinnen", this would put Federer into accusative. Since cases of proper names can' t be recognized directly, I used an explicit "den", to emphasise the accusative. Mar 6 at 10:01

1 Answer 1

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It doesn't have to be the subject that is identical but who has agency. This is important with some verbs that pass the agency to one of their objects.

One class of such verbs are for example unaccusative verbs as gefallen:

Es gefällt mir, dass ich mitten im Wald wohne.

Es gefällt mir, mitten im Wald zu wohnen.

From this example you can easily see that the subject of the main clause isn't ich. But with unaccusative verbs, it's not the subject but the dative object which has agency, and mir is the dative of ich, so the agency matches.


And this is the same with bitten. It's not unaccusative but special nevertheless as it passes its agency to the person who is asked for something, which is put as its accusative object.

Die Frau hat mich gebeten, dass ich das Fenster schließe und den Müll rausbringe.

Die Frau hat mich gebeten, das Fenster zu schließen und den Müll rauszubringen.

But most verbs don't pass the agency, so it's indeed the subject that has to be identical:

Ich habe daran gedacht, dass ich das Fenster schließe und den Müll rausbringe.

Ich habe daran gedacht, das Fenster zu schließen und den Müll rauszubringen.


Mein Vater wollte, dass Roger Feder einen anderen Grand Slam gewonnen hätte.

Let's drop Konjunktiv II Perfekt in this example, it doesn't fit:

Mein Vater wollte, dass Roger Feder einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnt.

This verb wollen is a modal and they behave differently with infinitives. They don't need a clause but take a phrase. Let's use the verb wünschen instead:

Mein Vater wünschte, dass Roger Feder einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnt.

This one cannot be made into an infinitive clause because the verb gewinnen has no agency at all. It's something that happens to the subject. If you want to heal that, you have to introduce the verb lassen and a subject for that.

Mein Vater wünschte, dass er Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen lässt.

So your dad has some agency in that? Well, you can now make it an infinitive clause as the agency does not change:

Mein Vater wünschte, Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen zu lassen.

If you insist on wollen instead, it's

Mein Vater wollte Roger Federer einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnen lassen.


Der Schriftsteller erinnert sich daran, dass er einen Preis gewonnen hat.

Der Schriftsteller erinnert sich daran, einen Preis gewonnen zu haben.

This looks completely straightforward, but it isn't. Let's replace sich by someone else.

Der Schriftsteller erinnert seine Frau daran, dass er einen Preis gewonnen hat.

Der Schriftsteller erinnert seine Frau daran, einen Preis gewonnen zu haben. ← NO!

The verb erinnern passes the agency to its accusative object. If that one is sich, the agency sticks to the subject so the subject must be identical. But if the accusative object is someone else, that someone else is the one who is the implied subject of the infinitive clause:

Der Schriftsteller erinnert seine Frau daran, dass sie einen Preis gewonnen hat.

Der Schriftsteller erinnert seine Frau daran, einen Preis gewonnen zu haben.

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  • The reason that Mein Vater wünschte, dass Roger Feder einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnt cannot be made into an infintive clause is that the subject of the subordinate clause appears nowhere in the main clause. It works with Mein Vater wünschte Roger Feder, dass er einen anderen Grand Slam gewinnt which then becomes Mein Vater wünschte Roger Federer, einen anderen Grand Slam zu gewinnen.
    – RHa
    Mar 4 at 18:32
  • Hmm. This is an interesting take on the agency because it's again a dative object in the main clause that appears as the subject of the dependent clause. Maybe agency isn't the entirely right term in this whole context.
    – Janka
    Mar 4 at 20:38
  • @RHa: Mein Vater wünschte, Roger Federer einen anderen [besser: weiteren] Grand Slam gewinnen zu sehen.
    – bakunin
    Mar 4 at 23:53

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