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Reflexive Pronouns for German Speakers

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

A classic error made by English speakers whose first language is German is the sentence: "We'll see us next Friday".

The correct sentence is "We'll see each other next week".

The confusion is because that English uses much fewer reflexive phrases than German and many German reflexive phrases don’t have a corresponding construction in English.

Some of the most frequent examples can be seen below;

Wir sehen uns nächste Woche.

We’ll see each other next week. (notice that we use ‘each other’ in this sentence).

Wir haben uns kennengelernt.

We got to know each other. (notice that we use ‘each other’ in this sentence).

Ich interessiere mich für Wirtschaft.

I’m interested in economics.

Ich konnte mich an seiner Name nicht erinnern.

I couldn’t remember his name.

Ich vorbereite mich auf eine prüfung.

I am preparing for an exam.

Ich unterhalte mich mit ihm gerade.

I am talking with him at the moment.

As an exercise translate the following sentences into English whilst paying attention to whether a reflexive pronoun, the words ‘each other’ or neither are needed. The answers are underneath.

1. Wir sehen uns jeden Montag beim Teammeeting.

2. Ich war schon immer daran interessiert, neue Sprachen zu lernen.

3. Ich bereite mich auf eine Präsentation vor, die ich heute halten muss.

4. Wir sehen uns nächsten Monat auf der Messe.

5. Ich unterhalte mich mit dem neuen Lieferanten.

6. Ich erinnere mich an meinen ersten Arbeitstag.

7. Wir haben uns in der Uni kennengelernt.

8. Ich interessiere mich überhaupt nicht für Fußball.

9. Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, was das richtige Wort ist.

10. Wir haben uns kennengelernt bei der Zusammenarbeit in einem anderen Unternehmen.

The answers:

1. We see each other every Monday at the team meeting.

2. I have always been interested in learning new languages.

3. I’m preparing for a presentation that I need to do later today.

4. I will see you at the trade fair next month.

5. I’m talking to the new supplier.

6. I remember my first day at work.

7. We got to know each other in University.

8. I’m not at all interested in football.

9. I can’t remember what the correct word is.

10. We got to know each other when we worked together in a different company.

This exercise will form part of a series looking at the most frequent errors that German speakers make with English based on the influence of German. If you'd like to be keep updated and see regular posts then sign up to the website and you'll be informed by email.

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