Mir ist das Glas gefallen.
Ich habe das Glas fallen lassen.

Do both sentences mean I (accidentally) dropped the glass? Can these two structures be used interchangeably?

  • 2
    Mir hat das Glas gefallen. means I liked the glass.
    – pdah
    Jan 16, 2014 at 21:53
  • "Mir ist das Glas hingefallen/umgefallen." geht, nicht aber nur "gefallen". Jan 19, 2014 at 4:21

3 Answers 3


The first sentence, as you wrote it, is ambiguous. It is unidiomatic but it could have the following two meanings.

The glass fell to me (into my arms)

I dropped the glass.

The proper verb for the first version is "runterfallen"

Mir ist das Glas runtergefallen.

As far as the general meaning is concerned this and the other sentence of yours express the same. You dropped the glass. However, in the mir-version you're much more the victim of circumstances. The phrasing is such that you're not the agent but the glass is. So "dropping it" merely happened to you.
In the second example grammatically you are the agent, and although it does not by any means imply that you did it on purpose I would go for the mir-version if I had dropped my friends laptop into a bucket of water.
By the way... if you use that construction in a context where you clearly did it on purpose and everybody knows it, then it is a euphemism.

Wenn du nicht aufhörst zu singen, dann fällt mir vielleicht der Föhn in die Wanne.

  • "first version" is ambiguous. you could also refer to your first meaning example. then "runtergfallen" would be incorrect. also I find it difficult to read your big passage, but maybe that is due to my tiredness..
    – Vogel612
    Jan 17, 2014 at 14:49
  • @Vogel612... nice observation about the example. You're right. I could mean that too. The other meaning was so strong that it out-ruled it for me unconsciously. As for the paragraph... we're talking about 6 lines here. I can imagine that being daunting but that will probably due to a lack of interest ;)... Also SE doesn't automatically allow for single "Zeilenumbruch" and I will not go through any pains to create one.
    – Emanuel
    Jan 17, 2014 at 18:10
  • It does allow single linebreaks... just add 2 spaces at the end of the line and it should work
    – Vogel612
    Jan 18, 2014 at 15:15

Mir ist das Glas herunter gefallen.

is passive, so it means you accidentally dropped it. (In my opinion "mir ist das Glas gefallen" doesn't make any sense.)

Ich habe das Glas fallen lassen.

is active, so it wasn't necessarily an accident.

  • 1
    Just to be safe.. it is not grammatical passive. Just semantical
    – Emanuel
    Jan 17, 2014 at 11:20

Mir ist das Glas gefallen.

This is not a German sentence. It doesn't mean anything.

What you mean is:

Mir ist das Glas heruntergefallen.

And has the same meaning as:

Ich habe das Glas fallen lassen.

  • The question was also, if it was accidental, and I would say that etwas fallen lassen implies that there was some sort of intention, whereas es ist heruntergefallen implies that the glass did this and you had nothing to do with it, so this would be more accidental. In the second sentence you would have to say "Ich habe das Glas aus Versehen fallen lassen." to make it an accidental act. But otherwise, welcome to german.SE :)
    – fifaltra
    Jan 17, 2014 at 9:51

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