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An um-zu- Satz is a grammatical structure in German that is a subtype of an infinitive group . The structure has a sentence-valued character, although it was not classified as a subordinate clause in traditional German grammar . In more recent linguistics , the um -zu- Satz is understood as an infinite subordinate clause - in other words, an " incoherent construction " of the infinitive - and that um as a conjunction for infinitive clauses.

Example: “He only drinks the brew to get well. "


Um-zu- sentences, like all infinite sentences in German, have no grammatical subject, but a subject for the infinite predicate is accepted. In the to-to- construction of the example sentence He drinks the brew to get well , this implicit subject of getting well must have the same reference as the subject he in the main clause .

Um-zu-clauses can express various adverbial relationships of meaning. On the one hand, they can have the meaning of a final movement . They can then be paraphrased with finite final clauses with the conjunction . The subject of the in- order construction to be inferred then reappears as a visible subject of the sentence with it. Examples:

  • He drinks the brew to get well. (Subject in the sentence: he = subject of drink , inflected verb form: will )
  • He drinks the brew because he wants to get well. (Subject: he , inflected verb form: will )

Another meaning is placed in the family of consecutive clauses (see there under "negative consecutive clause"), as in the example:

  • He's too old to count as a child.
(Paragraph with a finite subordinate clause: "He is too old to count as a child.")

Syntactic structure

The analysis of um as a conjunction results in a dichotomy between um and the following sentence core, which is referred to here as the verb phrase (VP).

um   VP[ gesund V[zu werden] ]

The connection from um und zu is explained in the more recent syntax theory in such a way that it is an inflection characteristic of the infinite verb, which thus becomes a characteristic of the entire verb phrase (a head characteristic ). The conjunction um requires this attribute because it rules the VP . More specifically, this process is the so-called Statusrektion used (see the article Directorate ), so just as the verb seem a to- demanded infinitive, as in "It seems [rain]."

Thus, the fact that the conjunction is to a to- occur infinitive together, that the conjunction in parallel with the fact thus occurs with a finite verb: This latter conjunction ruled a VP with the feature "finite" (to such counterparts see also Complementizer ).

Individual evidence

  1. Duden. The grammar. 8th edition Mannheim / Zurich 2009, § 1323.
  2. This sentence structure as well as the following analysis according to Wolfgang Sternefeld: Syntax. A morphologically motivated generative description of German . Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2006. S 197–200 (= Chapter II.5.2)