The Versatility of the German Verb “lassen”

The German language is known for its complexity and precision, and one of the most versatile and commonly used verbs in German is “lassen. While its English equivalent, “to let” or “to leave,” may not seem particularly versatile, “lassen” has a wide range of meanings and uses that make it an essential word in everyday German communication. In this article, we will explore the various nuances and uses of the German verb “lassen”.

1. Allowing and Permitting

In certain contexts, “lassen” can be used to ask for or grant permisson. For instance, “Lass mich schauen” which translates to “Let me see”, or “Lass ihn das machen” which translates to “Let him do that”. Note that the object is in the accusative case.

2. Having Something Done

“lassen” can also be used to express causing or having something done by someone else. For example, “Ich lasse mein Auto reparieren” means “I’m having my car repaired.” Here, the verb signifies that the subject is not performing the action themselves but rather entrusting it to someone else.

3. Suggesting or Recommending

In certain contexts, “lassen” can be used to suggest or recommend something politely. For instance, “Lass uns ins Kino gehen” translates to “Let’s go to the cinema”.

4. Expressing Opinions and Feelings

“lassen” can also be employed to express opinions or feelings, especially when combined with adjectives. For example, “Sie lässt ihn glücklich aussehen” means “She makes him look happy.” Here, “lassen” implies a certain influence on someone’s appearance or emotional state.

5. Relinquishing Control

In certain idiomatic expressions, “lassen” can signify relinquishing control or allowing something to happen without interference. An example is “Ich lasse mich überraschen,” which means “I let myself be surprised”

6. The idea of leaving objects in specific places or states

“Lassen” can be also employed to convey the idea of leaving objects in specific places or states, making it a versatile verb for describing everyday actions and situations in German. For example:

  1. “Er hat sein Auto auf dem Parkplatz stehen lassen.” (He left his car in the parking lot.)
  2. “Nach dem Regen habe ich die Wäsche draußen zum Trocknen hängen lassen.” (After the rain, I left the laundry outside to dry.)
  3. “Warum hast du den Brief auf dem Tisch liegen lassen, ohne ihn zu öffnen?” (Why did you leave the letter on the table without opening it?)


The German verb “lassen” is a prime example of the complexity and flexibility of the German language. Its various meanings and uses make it a versatile tool for expressing a wide range of actions, emotions, and ideas in German communication. Whether you’re giving permission, proposing a plan, or expressing an opinion, “lassen” plays a crucial role in conveying your message accurately and effectively in German. So the next time you encounter “lassen” in your German studies or conversations, remember its many uses and you’ll be well on your way to mastering this essential verb.

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