1. Diese Idee ist einfach zu erklären
  2. Diese Idee ist einfach zum erklären

I've seen both versions, but I think only 1. is correct (of course I may be wrong). If 2. is also correct, shouldn't the substantivated verb be capitalized, ie

Diese Idee ist einfach zum Erklären


  • 1
    Except for the capitalization the second sentence is grammatically correct. Only semantically, it's nonsense. (And of course, with ä instead of a, but that's just a typo). Also note the SentryRaven's comment
    – Em1
    Jan 21, 2014 at 14:25

3 Answers 3


The correct version is:

Diese Idee ist einfach zu erklären.

You are however correct in your second statement that when zum is used, the Erklären needs to be capitalized as it becomes a noun:

Zum Erklären benutze ich immer gerne Beispiele.


1st is correct. While the 2nd is not utterly wrong (and you are right about the capitlization) and still understandable, it sounds ankward and I wouldn't use it.

  • 4
    The second example however changes the meaning of the sentence. His first examples states: The idea is easy to explain. whereas his second example, although somewhat crudely, states: It is pretty easy to explain, using this idea. The idea is used as the instrument and not as the object being explained. Jan 21, 2014 at 14:16
  • Nein, das wäre "Mit dieser Idee ist es einfach zu erklären". Die zweite Version ist einfach Murks aber womöglich hier und das Mundart. Jan 22, 2014 at 5:18
  • @userunknown This is why I said it was somewhat crude. It's obviously not the correct sentence structure or common, but with the way it's written, it would make the idea to the instrument. Jan 22, 2014 at 8:12

Second one isn't correct. First one can be used. Yes, if the second one was correct, you would have to capitalize "Erklären". A slightly awkward, but correct sentence exemplifying this would be "Die Erklärung dieser Idee ist einfach". I probably would say "Dies ist einfach zu erklären" (leaving out the "idea" out completely) though - the something you're trying to explain is likely inferrable from context.

  • Yes, I used "idea" just to give a bit of context, but the question is really about this kind of construction in general.
    – persson
    Jan 21, 2014 at 14:18

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