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  5. "Ich sehe ihn ab und zu."

"Ich sehe ihn ab und zu."

Translation:I see him once in a while.

January 27, 2013



stupid question: what's the difference between ihm and ihn?


stupid answer: ihm=dative version of er, ihn=accusative version of er


stupid reply: you are correct.


Stupid observation: Jeder Beteiligte ist der Dummheit enthoben.


Stupid just-want-to-say-something: these string of massages just made my day


Stupid I-also-just-want-to-say-something: Can you recommend me to your masseuse?


Why is this person alone getting so many dislikes?


Perhaps because there doesn't seem to be any connection between the sentence and the post about recommending a masseuse?


This is the best kind of stupid. lol. The correct kind. =P


And an easy way to memorize it is thinking it like the mascular artikel "der". Akkusative- den. Dativ- dem. Same happens to er.

Nom Akk Dat Gen
der den dem des
er ihn ihm n.z.



Actually, I think it's appropriate to replace the N/A under genitive with sein (emphasis on the S).

If you look at all of the definite articles across all of the cases, they pretty consistently match the pronouns with "der" having the only ambiguity:

  • der: er, ihr
  • die: sie
  • das: es
  • den: ihn, ihnen
  • dem: ihm
  • des: sein


So "not applicable" as a response on forms is "n.z." in German. Thanks, zengator. That's worth knowing as we're all bound to have to fill out a form sooner or later if we spend any time in Germany. We Brits might have more bureaucracy to deal with now we've left the E.U.

What is "n.z." short for - "nicht zutreffend"?


Actually, I don't think this is stupid... I'm wondering why, since both ab and zu are dative prepositions, why this is not dative ihm and uses ihn instead. What makes this accusative, with all those dative prepositions?


"ihn" is the direct object of "sehe". What follows after doesn't matter.


Bei uns sagt man :Es gibt keine dummen Fragen, nur dumme Antworten.


I had the same question.


The same as the difference between he and him.

[deactivated user]

    In English he is nominative whilst him is both dative and accusative.


    The only stupid question is the one you ask twice because you di not write the answer done the first time. You are ignorant. You can fix that. We cannot fix stupid.


    Hey, try to keep it civil. Your comment has no productive component and is purely mean. Reported.


    I don't think MartinoDeVino is being mean--it's more a clumsy paraphrasing of a quote by one of my favorite science fiction writers, Robert Heinlein:

    "Ignorance is curable, stupid is forever."

    It's a succinct way of saying that there's no shame in not knowing something (ignorance), only in refusing to learn (stupidity).

    For example, my ignorance has just been lessened: Google & Wikipedia have informed me that Aristophanes said the same thing a couple millenia ago:

    "Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever."


    Alright, I guess I was a bit hasty typing my comment. Thank you for clarifying!


    Ich (nominative) sehe ihn (direct object) ab und zu.

    Direct objects are in akkusative case. So 'er' changes to 'ihn'.

    If it was something like "I give the book to him", then the translation would be:

    Ich gebe das Buch zu ihm.

    Ich (nominative). das Buch (direct object). him (indirect object)

    But if I phrased that a bit differently and said, "I give him the book", it'd become:

    Ich gebe ihn dem Buch.

    Ich (nominative). him (direct object). the book (indirect object)

    Please jemand correct me if I'm wrong.

    [deactivated user]

      I have to correct otherwise it may be remembered wrongly. Both of you example sentences are wrong, unfortunately. :-(

      Ich gebe das Buch zu ihm. This is not proper German It should sound: "Ich gebe ihm das Buch."

      Ich gebe ihn dem Buch. - Should sound: "Ich gebe ihm das Buch."


      Ab and zu in english could be all of the following ? Off and on, now and again, once in a while, now and then .?


      I can't answer (native anglophone) but the CLOSEST English would be "from time to time."


      thanks for this - I will now need to go and re read about on ihn/ihm with regards to direct and indirect objects


      I'm thinking that perhaps because it's an idiom, it follows its own rules... AFAIK ab and zu are dative prepositions, yet the sentence is treated as accusative because of sehen?!


      "Ich gebe dem Buch ihn" = "I give him to the book"?


      Nonsensical as it may be, that is correct.


      Very funny but it should be, ich gebe ihn dem Buch. The pronoun should precede in any case.


      a great answer - the light has now come with this very simple explanation


      Ab und zu = off and on, right? I don't know why they don't stick with the most literal translation.


      This really helped me. I was worried this was a weird separable verb prefix.


      Sie sagen "I was worried ..." Ich auch :-D


      Or even "now and again" might be a better translation than "once in a while".


      Actually I'm thinking 'to and fro', 'coming and going' (only backwards) 'leaving & to'ing' ab & zu 'fro and to'.


      I didn't try it, mostly because I would expect Duolingo to consider it wrong, but I would say on and off.


      For English it would be 'off and on'...


      Well I see they also use "ein" as "on"


      I can't get over how similar Norwegian is to German... seems like at least half of Norwegian is just plain copypasted from German and the other half is translated word for word. This expression, for example, became "av og til" there. This makes learning German easy on the one hand as I understand so much, but on the other hand, it's difficult to tell the two languages apart in my head. Still a pleasure though :)


      "I see him sometimes." Nein..."I see him on occasion." ist richtig.... Doesn't 'sometimes' mean the same as 'on occasion'?


      is there any connection here to absehen and zusehen?


      I wouldn't say so. The other way of correct translation to English is: "I see him from time to time." and there you can see the connection ab = from, zu = to. But maybe I'm wrong, I'm not native speaker neither English nor German, so it is just my suggestion.


      Yes, as I mentioned later.... "to and fro" for English, only with German these are backwards "fro and to". Not unusual for an idiom as in English there are many variants. "coming and going", "here and there", "coming and going", "time to time", "now and then" and probably more.


      cyber chips now that you say that, i Actually put coming and going and it Wasn't accepted


      Hi, i am german. And no, there is no Connection. "zusehen" means something like to watch something. for example " Ich kann beim Training zusehen" means something like " I am abled to watch the training" and i guess "absehen" can have more meanings like " besides a few mistakes" would mean "abgesehen von ein paar Fehlern"


      I am curious about this also. I put "I predict and watch him" and got it wrong.


      the ab and zu aren't separated prefixes from absehen and zusehen. "ab und zu" is an expressions which means "now and again" or "on and off". Literally "from and to". So it's like, "I see him from and to" = "I see him on and off" = "I see him now and again"


      This is exactly the information I wanted (needed) to know about "ab und zu".

      This is more like an idiom than a direct translation, I think. Is this the common way Germans say this kind of phrase? Would "jetzt und wieder" (now and again), "hier und da" (here and there), or "von Zeit zu Zeit" (from time to time), or something like this be used...ever?


      That's a good question... I wonder if someone can answer it?


      Thank you! I was looking for literal translations.


      The discussions are great and after I finished reading them all . I understood the " ab und zu " more clearly. You're great teachers I mean it. Thanks a lot.


      i need a link to understand those propositions !! :(


      A literal translation may explain the literal meaing of the source language, but it does not necessarily provide a good idiomatic translation into the target language, nor is it good translation practice. Both versions should sound " natural" to first speakers of either language . Sometimes a concept is best expressed approximately, as a German/ English speaker would really say it in their own language, rather than in an awkward but exact translation which they would never use. Surely we are aiming to speak German like Germans or translate it into a recognized variant of English .


      What is the difference between dative and accusative


      Think of Dativ as indirect object (as well as the object of a preposition) and Akkusativ as direct object.

      For a more detailed explanation, a quick Google yields this site.

      [deactivated user]


        'I see him now and then' Should be accepted, surely?


        That sounds exactly right to me.


        This is a bit odd. I guessed at "I see him here and there", and that was accepted, yet every other answer seems to suggest this is about time/frequency, not location.
        Are both equally valid, or should my answer not really be accepted?


        @ exscape

        "Ich sehe ihn ab und zu." - refers more to time than location/space as "I see him here and there" does.

        "I see him here and there" - refers to seeing him in this place or that one. As in seeing a person at a store, then perhaps a park and so on.

        "Ich sehe ihn ab und zu." - is an idiom that refers to time. As in seeing someone occasionally, could be every few weeks, months or whatever. But it does not refer to a location. You could be seeing this person in exactly the same place each time. Or even be visiting each other.


        Yeah, that's what I got from the discussion thread. So in that case Duolingo shouldn't have accepted my answer.


        Perhaps they accepted a more literal translation. It seems that unless it is grammatically wrong or just does not make sense in the translation they do that. It has happened to me too.

        I like to check unclear translations, concepts with other sources. Like dict.cc , Leo , duden... Not when I get lazy, but I find it can be really helpful.


        Wouldn't "I see him on and off" or "I see him now and then" be a more precise English translation? It feels like "once in a while" is following the spirit of the sentence, more than the exact wording of it.


        @ TobiasNils11

        I agree. I realize sometimes, especially with expressions/idioms there is no way to translate and keep a similar wording. But there are many instances where there are quite precise options available, like here. I wish Duo would stick to them. As well as to using Hochdeutsch unless it is marked as colloquial/slang.


        @Katja-z I didn't know about Hochdeutsch before you mentioned it, but I assume that is the equivalent of Rigsdansk (Reichs Danish) here in Denmark, i.e. the most correct and golden standard version of the given language?


        @ TobiasNils11

        I am not really familiar with Danish/Rigsdansk but it sounds similar. Basically, Hochdeutsch is standarized/correct German. Sort of like "proper" English.

        To me, the good thing about learning Hochdeutsch, or the "correct"/standardized version of a language is that it is perfectly understandable, and acceptable, anywhere the language is spoken.

        As opposed to colloquialisms, or even slang, which can not only vary widely between regions but can also be really inappropriate or rude in some situations.

        Sort of like the "come again" that Duo has as a translation for "wie bitte". While perhaps "come again" would be ok between buddies drinking beer (though I have not heard it really used anywhere in the US) it would be totally unacceptable in a business meeting, at a job interview, or anywhere not completely informal. To me, I also do not think it is a good choice to translate "wie bitte" which is a polite way to ask to repeat something. More like " (Sorry), could you repeat that please?/Sorry I did not catch that...."

        The whole thing is a sort of pet peeve of mine.


        I know that "now and then" is accepted here, but I haven't tried your other suggestions.


        "I see him off and on" would be a good choice. "I see him on and off" would--in my experience--be very unusual. Looking at the individual meanings of ab and zu, one might transliterate the challenge as "I see him fro[m] and to", but similar to "on and off" vs. "off and on", this would be more commonly said as "to and fro" (although that particular English phrase would probably be better expressed auf Deutsch as "hin und her".)

        Prepositions sometimes do not translate easily.


        Is “once a while” incorrect English? “Once in a while” seems to be correct though.


        The English idiom is "once in a while," the first one is bad English.


        I think you could say "from time to time" and it is nearer to »ab und zu«


        I wonder if you could also translate it as "off and on". That seems quite close and is ok English (well common usage at least!)


        "On and off" is generally used in the context of relationships and dating :). "They had an on and off again relationship." "I'm seeing(dating) him on and off."


        Not really. "Off and on" isn't really used with people; "see him once in a while" is definitely more common than "see him off and on". "Off and on" is used more often to express intermittence with objects or abstract concepts.


        I think it's more that "off and on" is usually used to refer to a state that is interrupted. E.g., "they dated off and on for a year."


        "I see him off and on" is a very common way of saying "I see him occasionally" where I live in the United States.


        I always thought the idiom was "once in while"! I am not a English native speaker, so I think that's the moment when learning German is increasing my English!


        What are the literal translations of "ab" and "zu" here? What does a native German speaker picture in his or her mind?


        The literal translation of ab, a preposition, is "beginning at this location or point in time", i.e., "from". The literal translation of zu, also as a preposition, is "to" in the sense of "towards".

        But here one should consider them together, as "ab und zu", having the idiomatic meaning of "now and then, occasionally".


        I actually think this is a pretty good answer.... German language places great emphasis on time and direction of movement and the relationship of things between them. These little words like ab and zu and many others have so many various usages. Like "auf" and "an" can mean on, so many little words, so many possible options make it tough on native speakers. Duo at least tries to get us familiar with many common ones, and a few uncommon idioms, like in this prepositions lesson.

        My take away from this one is that ab and zu are dative prepositions; and yet, we use ihn and not ihm although ihm is dative. The sentence, for reason unknown to me is accusative. The reasoning is not clear with so many dative prepositions, and yet, here it is... an idiom, and an exception to my thinking. I just learn it and go with the flow.


        Remember: sentences aren't Akkusativ nor Dativ. They may have Akkusativ und Dativ components.

        In this sentence, the Nominativ object is the speaker, Ich. The thing being seen, ihn, is Akkusativ. I think it may be helpful to consider the prepositions as acting together as if they are an adverb describing how/when he (er) is being seen.


        A few people have already said it, but I'll elaborate a little differently. As pointed out, he (or him) is the direct object, not the indirect object, or the object of a preposition. It might help to think of the english version even though the directions are different (up and down versus back and forth). Up and down are also prepositions, but in this case, they are not being used as prepositions, but rather directions and him is the direct object, not the object of either preposition. If you were to look up or down a stairwell, then in that case the stairwell would be the object of one (or both) of those prepositions. You aren't looking up or down him like a stairwell -- you are looking up and down, but you're looking (at) him.


        "I see him there and then" incorrect?


        Yes. That is incorrect.


        "I see him now and then" should be correct


        "I see him once a while" is marked wrong... why? It's English


        No, that isn't English. It would need to be "I see him once in a while."


        Can anyone explain "ab und zu"? I haven't really learned "ab" yet. Is this just an idiomatic phrase?


        As an expression the entire phrase "ab und zu" would be "now and then", "of and on", or as Duo has it "once in a while." And more expressions with similar meaning.

        https://www.dict.cc/?s=ab+und+zu dict.cc is a good place to look up things.



        "ab" as well as "zu" when not used as part of the expression "ab und zu" have different meanings. Idioms/expressions are just something that has to be learned as a whole. Sort of like the expression "kicking the bucket" in English. As an idiom it has a totally different meaning than as a straight translation.


        Once in a while is not a good translation. The words literally and figuratively mean off and on. German is hard enough to learn without overwriting good literal translations. When the literal translation to English works it should be reinforced as the correct answer every time. With interpretive translations being accepted only when there is no German alternative.
        Off and on
        Now and then
        once in a while
        Are there proper German sentences to express these or do they all fit under ab und zu?



        Ab means "from", not "off"; zu means "towards/to", not "on".

        Together, as "ab und zu", they mean (idiomatically) "occasionally" or "once in a while". Reference Wikipedia::ab und zu.


        I would be nice to have flash cards of all these expressions


        I'm about to suggest that "I see him hither and thither" should be accepted because I think it's a lovely idiomatic expression. I hope nobody thinks it's a terrible idea...


        @ Didrik929357

        Even though I like "hither and thither", I think It would be wrong since both of those words refer to place/locations, not time like "ab und zu".

        "I see him hither and thither" would be an older way of saying "I see him here and there" not "I see him now and then"/*".

        Personally I think that "I see him now and then" is a better translation for "Ich she ihn ab und zu" than "I see him once in a while". But even "I see him once in a while' is closer than "hither and tither'


        Is "ab und zu" like a collation in German? Or like a phrase? Because literally it translates to "from and to", or better "to and fro" (figuratively, "a lot of times")

        Consequently, if I say, "I see him to and fro" would that be right?


        I don't think you'll often hear "to and fro" used that way. "I see him here and there", or "I see him now and again" is what I would expect to hear in English.

        "To and fro" has more to do with motion. Swinging or swaying, for instance. Read more on the topic here.


        Or also commonly heard / said "I see him off and on."


        In my native Indian language, Marathi (which is quite similar to Hindi), we use this phrase "Mala Yeta Jata Disto" which literally translates to "I see him to and fro", but means "I see him quite often".


        "Ab un zu" OR "ab und zu"


        @ marcialori

        "ab und zu" just like in Duo's sentence on top. :)



        I don't know if i missed something, but what is the meaning of "ab"


        I said 'now and then' it wasnt accepted, is that correct?


        Could this translate as, I see him now and then?


        @ NitaWest1

        I don't know if Duo accepts it or if it would insist on the phrasing above, but "I see him now and then" is a perfectly fine/correct translation for " ich sehe ihn ab und zu".




        From time to time would be right?


        @ IneseLusin

        I would think so. As would "I see him now and then".


        I really like dict.cc it even includes many expressions/idioms and many if not most entries have audio. Quite often with a choice of several speakers.


        I thought ab und zu could also be now and then


        Does anyone else in common English use the phrase "Once and a while"? Or have I been saying that wrong most of my life?


        "Once and a while" is incorrect :(


        Yeah . . . . I'm afraid you've misunderstood "once in a while".


        Why is "I see him once a while" wrong?


        That response is incorrect because it is not an English phrase. I think the phrase you are looking for is "I see him once in a while"? "A while" is a span of time. If you see "him" once in that span of time, you might say "I see him once in a while".


        Should "I see him seldom," work?


        "once in a while" and "time to tome" are synonyms and should be accepted as a correct answer


        Why "now and then" is not a good equivalent to "ab und zu"?


        Is it an German idiom? I can't figure out this sentence structure!


        Am i the only one who has never seen " ab" before? ...

        I hate when duo throws new things in the middle of a lesson and expects you to know it


        This is how die Eule teaches. It approximates the way you would learn in a full-immersion environment. That is the way most all of us learn our native tongue: as babies we are inundated with words and phrases we have never heard before and don't understand.

        Here in DuoLingoLand, the questions are the tests and the instruction simultaneously. I do not believe die Eule expects you to know the new words, only to learn them as you go along.


        I've translated it as "I see him time to time", but not accepted...


        The English idiom is "from time to time".


        OK. I'll try it next time ;-) I hope it will be accepted...


        No, not accepted...


        Surely "I see her now and then" should be an accepted answer?


        @ Faolan391782

        No, because with "I see her now and then" you used the wrong pronoun. :)

        'her" = "sie"

        "ihn" = "him"

        dict.cc is a really good dictionary to look things up. That way you don't have to wait for a response or read through the comments if you don't want to.




        Stupid me: see the Dativ verb and convert personal pronouns in dativ forms.


        The Google translates:- ich sehe ihn ab und zu > I see him from time to time! ++ Is it accepted from Duo?


        Duo, please accept "I see him once in a blue moon." as correct. I don't know why, just because it would be fun.


        Why won't it accept the English translation, "i see him now and then"?


        Could this also be translated as 'I see him now and then' or would that be different


        This makes no sense Ab und zu (is from and to) how is that from time to time or now and then?


        "to and from", "now and again", "here and there", "this and that", "off and on", etc

        All give the sense of "occasionally" which andrewpwise above noted was used successfully. It's just an idiomatic phrase.


        Well put. I used here and there and it was marked correct even though I knew it couldn't be correct using a literal translation.


        I think it's more literally the inverse of "to and fro" and older more archaic English term. By inverse I mean "fro (ab) and to (zu), with ab being a leaving, and a zu being a going to.


        The trick is, what I'm learning, is forget about the literal translation of things. The best way to view language learning is what is physically being recalled. Ich esse Pizza. Yes, it means "I eat pizza." that is easy but "esse" translate better to "to eat" or "eating (physically consuming)" Pizza than to "eat". They may not help but forget the English version and focus on the actual state of things.


        In German, it seems like most things are viewed from the present tense. When I translate German, I always use the present tense when possible, and it's accepted. Ich esse Pizza. I eat Pizza, meaning I am eating it now; but I leave out the to be part of English. This helps me later to understand translating in Präteritum with "haben" & "sein".


        What mean ab and zu? This translation dont look logic


        I deleted this comment.


        Weird phrase, two random prepositions that normally mean different things


        Why are all these questions deleted


        is this another idiom


        IMO that's a lot of material in one lesson. I think you should split the contents into several lessons so that most can master the concepts.


        ab und zu = once in a while ? Really ? Wow ! Nicely played !


        @ karnnan

        Yes, really.

        It is a German idiom/expression. Just like "on and off", "now and then", "once in a while"... are English phrases/idioms for "occasionally".

        Idioms/expressions frequently can not be translated word for word between languages. They just have to be memorized/learned.


        I dont understand this question!


        What, precisely, don't you understand?

        [deactivated user]

          Please follow me


          'I see him so now and then' seems good English to me. Why is it not marked as correct?


          This really doesn't seem like good English to me. I think "I see him now and then" is much more correct.


          every now and then but not so now and then. you could even say every now and again. I'm American.


          "awhile" should be one word, not two.


          That might be what it means, but it isn't expressing the German sense. More like I see him here and there


          I see him SO NOW AND THEN seems good English to me. Why is it not marked as correct?


          Am I the only one who havel failed the testing of two skills (whatever that means) at least a hundred times?

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