1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. Personal proniun mir


Personal proniun mir

Ich werde ihn mir Morgen ansehen. I will inspect him tomorrow. The English was given as the translation of the German. I can't see what function 'mir' plays and why there nothing of it in the English. What is the explanation of this?

October 29, 2012



Not sure about this one, but the literal translation would be something like: 'I will him me morning see'. 'him' is the direct object and must be 3rd person, masculine, accusative case--'ihn'. 'me' would, I think, be an indirect object and thus in the dative case--'mir'. In English, the word order makes it obvious who is doing the 'seeing', so it isn't necessary to include 'me' in the English translation. Thus, 'I will see him in the morning'. According to my dictionary, ansehen means 'to look at' or 'to see' rather than 'to inspect'.


From Leo.

sich[Dat] etw[Akk] ansehen : to watch sth.

In your sentence sich is mir and etw is ihn .


According to my dictionary, 'ansehen' means 'to see' or 'to visit'. I think 'I will see him tomorrow' would be a better translation. But you cannot be sure when no context of the sentence is given. I think it's a shortcoming.


@ErnestaE: "to visit" is not the most prototypical translation of "ansehen". The usual meaning is "to watch something" or "to (closely) look at something". "ansehen" can mean "visit", but only in the sense of visiting places such as a city, a museum, a landmark etc. So translating "ihn" as "him" doesn't work if you assume "ansehen" means "to visit". "ihn" could refer to something like "der Eiffelturm", though.

@Tomk123: It's just that the German verb is reflexive and the English isn't. Basically, "mir" is part of the verb.


Here's a good explanation of how reflexive verbs work in German. http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa022601a.htm


@christian: Thanks for your always helpful comments and for the reference regarding reflexive verbs. If I understand this, a verb is reflexive if used with a reflexive pronoun (ie, pronouns used as direct or indirect objects the refer to the same person as the subject). Reflexive pronouns have the same form as accusative or dative pronouns, except they use 'sich' in the third person. Thus, in the sentence in question, the direct object 'him' is not reflexive and so we use the normal accusative 'ihn'. But 'me' is a reflexive pronoun (same person as the subject), so we use the dative 'mir'. Is my understanding on the right track?


According to all the dictionaries I can find, 'ansehen' is a transitive verb and cannot be reflexive. Its basic meaning is 'look at'. So I have no trouble with translating it as 'inspect' which is a synonym. Further, for all reflexive verbs the pronoun in the first person singular is 'mich' which like all reflexive pronouns is accusative.. Therefore, my problem is with 'mir' which is dative and does not seems to do anything in this sentence. It just doesn't fit in.


Good thread, and I've learned a little from it.

@christians link has an excellent discussion of reflexive verbs. Can't say I've mastered the subject, but do understand it a little better.

@Tom123: Agree with your comment that 'ansehen' is transitive, but that does not preclude being reflexive. Also, a dative reflexive pronoun can be used with verbs that have a dative (indirect) object. So, maybe a reasonable translation for your sentence is: 'I will see him in the morning myself' or "I will look at him in the morning myself'.


@SierraSlim: "mir" does not mean "myself". You'd have to add "selbst": "Ich werde ihn mir morgen selbst ansehen."


@christian: Thanks for the correction. Would appreciate your translation of 'Ich werde ihn mir Morgen ansehen'.


@SierraSlim: Here are three possible translations of "Ich werde ihn mir morgen ansehen." By the way, don't capitalise "morgen". It's an adverb. (morgen = tomorrow; der Morgen = the morning)

  • I'll watch it tomorrow. ("ihn" refers to a movie)

  • I'll have a look at it tomorrow.

  • I'll visit it tomorrow. ("ihn" refers to a place)

It's quite unlikely that "ihn" refers to a person.


@christian: Thanks for your helpful commentary. I fell into the mistake of thinking of 'ihn' only as a male person, forgetting it could stand in for any singular, masculine noun. I'm still not sure why the original sentence needs 'mir', but that gives me something to work on as my study progresses.


@ christian

"ihn" COULD be a person. As when a doctor says "Ich werde ihn (den Patienten) mir morgen ansehen." That would translate to "I will look at him tomorrow" or "I will examine him tomorrow". (btw "ihn" could also be an artist on performance... "Hast du Mario Barth schon gesehen?", "Nein, ich werde ihn mir morgen ansehen." or a newborn "Hast du Marias Sohn schon gesehen?", "Nein, ich werde ihn mir morgen ansehen").

I think "ansehen" has a strong sense of passiveness on the side of the object (the thing or person, that is looked at). It does not typically interact directly with the subject (the person that is looking).


@Annerhea: Right. That's why I didn't say it was impossible. ;) Anyway, in real life conversations, the meaning of "ihn" should be clear as it can only refer to something/someone that's already been mentioned before.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.