Irgendwas vs. Etwas
Hello! I've been confused for a while about this. What is the difference between irgendwas and etwas? Is there a difference in formality? If someone could please clear this up for me, I'd really appreciate that.
Thanks in advance! :)
First of all, it’s a really good question. Even as a native speaker (not a language teacher, though), I had to think about it. I conclude that people use “irgendwas” when they are either completely clueless as to “what”, or don’t care as to “what”. The trouble for you as a learner is, that you cannot fully relate it to the english use cases of anything vs something. In many cases you would use both “irgendwas” and “etwas” as the equivalent of “something”, but in German you can now differentiate on how clear and determined that “something” actually is. Example: „Something is wrong!“ - now, if you have absolutely no clue as to what is wrong, you could say „Irgendetwas ist falsch!“. However if you have some idea about what could be wrong, you would probably choose to say „Etwas ist falsch!“. Really the difference is a nuance, but nuanced expression can be a very useful thing.
Irgendwas is short for irgendetwas.
Irgend makes it more vague.
Irgendjemand = anyone, jemand = someone
Irgendwo = anywhere, wo = where
Check this out: http://www.linguee.com/german-english/translation/irgendwas.html