I'm studying German on my own and I would like some help with this sentence I read in my textbook:

Deshalb möchte er im Urlaub möglichst viel an der frischen Luft sein, ohne sich zu sehr anstrengen zu müssen.

I get what it means, but there are two things I don't understand:

  1. Isn't "ohne" just a preposition, shouldn't it be "ohne dass" in this case?

  2. Why is there a "zu" in front of "müssen"? I thought modal verbs didn't require a "zu" to connect with the main verb.

Would it also be correct to say "... anstrengen müssen" and would it mean the same?

  • Interestingly enough, it's more important for this site to have nicely looking posts instead of directly helping people, anyway because of these edits I looked up ohne zu and my problem is solved, but again with no thanks to any direct answer from anyone, might as well delete this.
    – user3684
    Dec 8, 2013 at 13:31
  • 1
    The edit was mainly done to help you with the title. "Need helm with sentence" would not have attracted anybody but down or close voters. If you feel unhappy with an edit you can always rollback or further improve your post.
    – Takkat
    Dec 8, 2013 at 15:10
  • 1
    @user3684 i couldn't answer the question correctly, but i was able to make it easier to read and thus answer, so I did what I could to get you a decent and correct answer. what is wrong with that again??
    – Vogel612
    Dec 8, 2013 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


Isn't "ohne" just a preposition, shouldn't it be "ohne dass" in this case?

That's still an option: "... ohne, dass er sich zu sehr anstrengen muss." would be perfectly fine. The meaning is somewhat less general than the alternative, though.

Why is there a "zu" in front of "müssen"?

"ohne zu" + Infinitiv is a very popular and idiomatic construction.

  • Achtung: from a logical point of view the "ohne, dass" version means that he doesn't have to make much effort to want to spent time outdoors. The indicative of the müssen-parts makes it seem as if the "ohne, dass" modal adverbial sentence refers to the action of the main sentence (which is also indicative) and that is "möchte"
    – Emanuel
    Dec 8, 2013 at 22:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.