German typically requires selfreferencing. In english 'myself/I/me' is implied, not so in german.
Ich setzen mich an den Stuhl. = I sit down on the chair
My German tutor said to imagine that you're talking to a small version of yourself as you sit it (yourself) on the chair. We found it quite funny.
Actually only some verbs needs this "reflexive" behaiviour, the "sich verbs" as I like to call them, "sich sitzen" being one of them: https://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/german-reflexive-verbs/
The relatives in English are "sit" and "set": one is (at least originally) the causative of the other (to set something somewhere is to cause it to sit). Similarly with "fall/fell" (to fell a tree is to cause it to fall).
I think that stehen/stellen are also related in this way (to put something somewhere is to cause it to stand).
This is the dativus commodi vel incommodi ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefactive_case ) and indicates for whose benefit the action was done.
You looked at it because you wanted to see what it looked like. You looked at it for your own benefit.
German (like Latin) expresses this with the dative case.
It's a benefactive, indicating for whose benefit (or to whose detriment) something happened.
So literally, it would be something like "I am looking at it again for myself".
Similarly: "Ich habe mir ein Buch gekauft" (I bought [myself] a book) or "Ich habe mir den Knöchel verstaucht" (I sprained my ankle -- here "benefactive" does not imply that the action benefited the subject, just that it affected him!).
Thank you, that makes it that much clearer. It's a bit confusing for a native French speaker. Because we have a lot of reflexive verbs, but some which are reflexive in German are not in French! Especially sich ansehen. From what I understand, we use reflexive verbs when the subject is an indirect object of the sentence, not just a beneficiary.
More than 20 comments and no one explained the difference between ansehen and sich ansehen, so sad. I hope that my post will help somebody.
etwas ansehen - to look at something, it's used in the “looking in the eye” sense. Ich sehe dich an. = I look at you. Just looking, nothing more. sich etwas ansehen - includes more involvement and thoroughness. Ich sehe mir das Bild an. = I look at the picture. It's like looking at the content of the picture.
One more example to understand the difference: Ich sehe das Buch an. = I look at the book (have my gaze fixed at it). Ich sehe mir das Buch an. = I look at the book. (turn it around, open it, turn pages, perhaps read a chapter…)
That will help you understand this exercise, if you want to read more about the difference between ansehen and sich ansehen, here is the link: http://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/meaning-ansehen/#more-5888
I did a bit of a research, and found out that "ansehen" can be reflexive (I'm not totally sure that's the correct word to use, but you'll understand what I mean reading on). The complete infinite form is "sich ansehen", having a slightly different meaning than just "ansehen" (check http://dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/ansehen or just google "sich ansehen").
so it goes: ich mir sehe (etwas) an --> I have a look (at something) du dir siehst (etwas) an --> You have a look (at something) etcetera
As I understand it: Both sentences "Ich sehe es mir nochmals an." and "Ich sehe es mir noch Mal an." mean the same, don't they?
Well and the problem is - they sound the same, which is what just happened to me. I suggest deleting this sentence from listening exercises (and I have reported it)
Because "ansehen" is more like "viewing" or "looking at" than "seeing." "Viewing/ansehen" is active-- you're purposely directing your attention toward something. "Seeing/sehen" is passive-- something is in your field of view whether you're trying to look at it or not.
"I am looking it over again" was not accepted, but should be. "I'm looking at it again" could translate "Ich sehe es nochmals an"; the English is ambivalent as to how thorough the "looking at" is. But "I'm looking it over again" clearly reflects the close attention that "Ich sehe es mir nochmals an" suggests. Reported.
Can you say ever in a certain context 'Ich sehe es dir nochmals an'?
Yes, but it means something quite different: that would not be sich etwas ansehen (to look at something [for one's own benefit]) but jemandem etwas ansehen (to see something in someone; to recognise).
For example, ich sehe dir an, dass du lügst "I can see [by looking at you] that you are lying", or ich kann dir ansehen, dass du krank bist "I can see that you are ill".
And then ich sehe es dir nochmals an would be "I see it again (the thing that was obvious to me from looking at you)".