On “zu” and “um zu”

Hi there,


I’ve learnt about sentences with ‘dass’ and ‘zu + infinitive’, but I still don’t feel so confident writing arbitrary sentences that I make up myself. I’ve read the stuff on your site too and this helps loads (much more than many of the boring grammar books); but am still having trouble.

As I understand, it’s okay to write things like, “I know I eat many apples”, in two different ways:

Ich weiss, dass ich viele Äpfel esse.
Ich weiss, viele Äpfel zu essen.

But are they really the same? The literal English translation is slightly different:
I know that I eat many apples
I know to eat many apples

Also, I was wondering what is possible to make up the main bit of the sentence (“ich weiss”), not the dependent part. Can it just be anything that can be / needs completing? E.g.,

The sausages, …
On Tuesdays, …
I hope, …

For “I must have forgotten it”, would that be:
ich muß es zu vergessen haben.
ich muß haben, es zu vergessen.


(Originally asked by Edd)

zum + verb


so today I learned something cool about German

– “das ist zum Haare Reufen = that makes me want to rip my hair out

How versatile is this construction?
Can I also say: “Das ist zum Trinken” or “Diese Musik ist zum das Feiern Lassen.” (this music makes me want to leave the party). Also, how would I say “you make me want to…”? google was no help (as usual) it said “du machst mich wollen etw. zu tun.
would “Du bringst mich zu…” be better. z.B. “du bringst mich zum Lachen (you make me (want to) laugh.)”
I’m sure I’v seen it before, I’m just not totally sure how its said

Vielen Dank im Voraus!

Sentence structure dass/um zu – random example

I don’t suppose someone could check if this phrase is correct:

– “Ich glaube, dass dem Gemälde versucht, zu zeigen, sie ein sehr schweren Leben zu haben.”

I’m trying to say something like:

– “I believe that the painting is trying to show they have really hard lives.”

I understand the idea of subclauses like:

Ich , dass (i.e., the second verb comes at the end of the dass clause). But I’m not so sure how to arbitrarily piece these together.

The ideas I struggle with are how to use dass / zu constructs in big sentences, with several subclauses. If what I wrote makes sense, yay, but it’s a bit accidental! If you could explain why it’s okay that’d be great :). Many thanks in advance!!!


(asked by Edd)