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I have been practicing some sentence drills and I wrote something that "looks" wrong simply because I've never seen anything with this construnction, however it just "sounds" right.

Ich weiss es nicht, sondern das Hause ist zu alt, und deswegen es soll abgebaut werden.

My guess as to how various tense based constructions work, is that you can also swap hilfsverbs out with modal verbs, so long as the corresponding ending verb matches.

What I want to know, is if this would be one of those scenarios, or if this should be "haben/sein" as the appropriate hilfsverb for the past participle?

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  • There is a pretty much equivalent construction in English if that helps: "It must be dissasembled."
    – RHa
    Mar 10 at 18:49
  • That is what I was going for, but is it proper/correct german? I'm having a hard time trying to find examples online of a construction like this and I cannot. Normally "werden" is used as: an auxiliary verb, used as "worden" to indicate passive, or "werden...[verb] werden" to indicate future Mar 10 at 18:54
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    @RHa - I think in English you'd usually say "demolished" for a house rather than "dismantled". Actually I'm more curious about why it would be "es soll" rather than "soll es".
    – RDBury
    Mar 10 at 19:45
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    @RDBury the word order is indeeed wrong, it has to be "deswegen soll es" but except for this the bold part is correct. Instead of "abbauen", "abreißen" is usually used for a house and I guess "demolish" is the best translation for that.
    – RHa
    Mar 10 at 19:59
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    Abbauen at least suggests, that it is done in such a careful way, that it can be reconstructed elsewhere, so it is the proper term for e.g. a tent. Otherwise (i. e. in case of final disposal) I would expect abgebrochen or abgerissen.
    – guidot
    Mar 11 at 11:11

1 Answer 1

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German allows multiple modal and helping verbs to be used in a sentence, and each time one is added the finite verb gets replaced and a non-finite version is pushed to the end. The result is that German sentences sometimes have long strings of them gathered up there. In this case start with the basic verb:

"Ich baue das Haus ab."

The "werden" in this case expresses the passive voice. The rule is "werden" + participle = passive; "werden" + infinitive = future. That gives:

"Das Haus wird abgebaut."

On top of that there is the modal verb "sollen", and this replaces "wird" pushing it to the end in the infinitive. This gives:

"Das Haus soll abgebaut werden."

There are some other things going on in the sentence, it's part of a larger sentence and uses a pronoun instead of "Das Haus", but I think that covers what you were asking about. There are also special grammatical rules that sometimes apply when there a lot of verbs at the end of a sentence; look up "Ersatzinfinitiv" when you feel ready for it.

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