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The Meaning of "Seit" and "Sich"

Hello everyone,

I don't understand the German words "Sich" and "Seit" though I've heard it alot.
Could someone please explain those two words to me?

Thank you! AP4418

May 16, 2018



This little word "seit" is "since" in English. There is a difference in using the right tense in German though.

I have been home since 8 pm. = Ich bin seit 20:00 Uhr zu hause.

Whereas the English sentence needs the present perfect you would use the present tense in German.

Seit gestern schreibe ich meine neuen Wörter auf.

Since yesterday I have been writing down my new vocabulary.

Your other topic concerns the reflexive verbs. Some verbs are the same as i English only that you would need forms of -self or -selves to use them. Unfortunately they don't match all the time.

to meet - sich treffen

Er trifft sich mit Freunden. = He meets friends.

Er versteht sich gut mit seinem Freund. = He gets along fine with his friend.


if i haven't missed anything out, sich can mean:



oneself himself herself yourself itself yourselves

with some reflexive verbs it conveys little meaning (to me) and i just leave it out of the translation) ich erinnere mich an... i remember...

As nadine517142 suggested, i usually translate seit as since... but sometimes for works better in sentences like: Ich habe Deutsch seit 2 Jahren gelernt


Ich habe Deutsch seit 2 Jahren gelernt<

That is not a well formed German sentence. 1) "Ich habe seit 2 Jahren Deutsch gelernt." However, that still is incorrect. "habe...gelernt" indicates you are done with it. That does not work with "seit". Correct: "Ich habe 2 Jahre lang Deutsch gelernt." But that still is not good. The problem here is the verb, which, in its past form, indicates an absolute finish to the activity. Funny enough, that does not apply to "studieren"... Alternatives:

"Ich habe in 2 Jahren Deutsch gelernt." (I learned (mastered!) German (with)in 2 years."

"Ich habe 2 Jahre lang Deutch studiert." (However, that would kind of apply only to true academic study. "Studieren", in modern German, is restricted in that way.)


Hi, you use "seit" when you refer to time like " Ich warte seit 3 Stunden". It is used when you use since in English. "Sich" is a pronoun for the third person singular and plural. " Sie sieht sich im Spiegel."

I hoped it helped you a bit.


Ich glaube, im Englischen verwendet man in diesem Satz "for". Im Deutschen unterscheiden wir nicht zwischen Dauer ("for") und Beginn ("since") einer Handlung, es ist immer "seit". Falsche Freunde in beide Richtungen ...


Nicht ganz. You use "seit" only if the thing is ongoing. "Ich arbeite seit 3 Jahren bei Mercedes." (Still working there) The "seit" is dropped if there are other modifiers: "Ich arbeite schon 3 Jahre (lang) bei Mercedes." "Ich warte über drei Stunden auf Dich!" Kind of informal, normally you would still use "seit" in conjunction with "über": "Ich warte seit über drei Stunden auf Dich!"

So modifiers that themselves have a clear relation to time will replace "seit", other modifiers strictly still require the "seit", but it is often dropped in everyday speech.

"Ich arbeitete 3 Jahre bei Mercedes." Sometime in the past, but not anymore.

BTW: "seit" is also a plural subjunctive form of the verb "sein" (to be). "Ich habe gehört, ihr seit (seiet) unfreundlich gewesen." "I have heard that you were unfriendly."


Thank you sriajuda, that was helpful!


Happy to be of assistance.

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