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I'm interested in differentiating the usage between "umsorgen", "versorgen" and "sich darum etwas kümmern".

I recognise there seem to be different contexts where they are used: for example:

Ich kümmere mich um deine Katze, wenn du im Urlaub bist

Ich habe mich um meinen Großvater, als er im Krankenhaus war, gekümmert

"Sich kümmern" to me seems the most straightforward verb out of the 3 to understand.

However "umsorgen" and "versorgen" are also in Pons related to looking after someone or something. I guess "vorsorgen" is slightly different in the sense that it's "to provide" for someone, but that's still pretty broad in english terms.

What would be typical ways or situations in which "umsorgen" and "versorgen" are used?

  • 1
    Do you mean "versorgen"? – Emanuel Oct 24 '14 at 17:56
  • ah danke, i've changed it accordingly – user5105 Oct 24 '14 at 18:34
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All of those words comprise a form of worry from the caring person's part, implying that you take personal responsibility (as in case of the cat). However, I don't quite agree with the first answer.

I think "versorgen" is the most emotionally neutral verb of them, however, its meaning is rather limited:

"jemanden mit etwas versorgen" - to supply someone with something they need
Das Rote Kreuz versorgte die Wartenden im Stau mit heißen Getränken.

"jemanden versorgen" - to take care of someone's needs
Als Krankenpfleger versorge ich pflegebedürftige Menschen.
Ein Bauer versorgt morgens zuerst die Kühe, bevor er frühstückt.

"umsorgen" does not necessarily have to do with someone's need to be cared for. The caring person may just have the wish to do so. It is often associated with, but not defined as, a motherly desire to minimize any discomfort to your protegé.

Ein müder Gast wird von der Gastgeberin mütterlich umsorgt.

"kümmern" can be applied to almost anything. Although the word "Kummer" (woe, suffering) refers to a deeper emotional affection than "Sorge" (worry), it is usually used in the sense of devoting your time and attention to whatever-it-is. It is also less specific regarding what exactly is to be done, and can refer to anything that will become necessary in the named context.

Morgen kannst du dich um die Kinder kümmern. (Mit ihnen spielen, ihnen Essen machen, ihre Streits schlichten.)
Ich muss mich um die Steuererklärung kümmern. (Und alle meine Quittungen zusammensuchen, Rechnungen aufstellen, Kontoauszüge finden...)
Kannst du dich um die Projektdokumentation kümmern? (Und alles Notwendige veranlassen, wie z.B. Informationen zusammentragen, einen Redakteur finden.)

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umsorgen:

Almost only in the context of: Die Tochter umsorgt ihren kranken Vater. And similar uses. Meaning: She does everything to help him.

versorgen:

General use: Die Stadtwerke versorgen die Stadt mit Strom und Gas. The meaning is to provide with something necessary.

sich kümmern um:

Also general use, the object can be a person or a thing or matter. Ich kümmere mich um die Angelegenheit. I'll take care of the matter. Meaning doing the things that are necessary.

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"vorsorgen" is "to take precautions":

Ich sorge für mein Alter vor.

"umsorgen" is to look after someone, but to do it with special fervor:

Wenn ich als Kind krank war, hat mich meine Mutter liebevoll umsorgt.

"kümmern", on the other hand, may be used if you just take care of something:

Ich habe mich um meine Steuer gekümmert (I took care of my taxes)

Because of the edit:

"versorgen" means "to supply". When used to speak about care, I'd say it has a more formal connotation: a mother "umsorgt" or "kümmert", but a nurse "versorgt".

  • Apologies, I typed "versorgen" incorrectly – user5105 Oct 24 '14 at 18:35

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