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Which of the following phrases are correct:

  1. Ich habe frei
  2. Frei habe ich
  3. Ich bin frei
  4. Frei bin ich

The original meaning is « I'm free ».

  • What is the difference between them?
  • Are these expressions exchangeable?
  • In general, can I play freely with the order of the nouns in the German sentence unless the verb is located in the right place (#2 in the sentence)?
9

You would not normally put "frei" at the beginning of the sentence. It's not technically wrong, but simply unidiomatic most of the time, very much like the English "free I am". Unless you're really stressing that point (or want to imitate Yoda) go with options #1 and #3.

"Ich habe frei" means that you're off, on vacation, not working or in school that day. "Ich bin frei" means that you are, well, free, i.e. not incarcerated, held captive or similar.

  • 1
    And: "frei sein" may also be translated as "being at liberty (to do sth.)" – Stephie Mar 25 '15 at 21:01
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    A minor nitpick: The Yoda form, based on the German Star Wars translation, would be "Frei ich bin." (which is grammatically wrong, but the only way to "idiomatically" imitate Yoda in German) – O. R. Mapper Mar 25 '15 at 22:19
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    @Stephie You're right, but in German you can't leave out the object and so it's no possible interpretation of the OPs sentences. – Toscho Mar 26 '15 at 8:44
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  1. "Ich habe frei"

You say this possibly as an answer:

"Do you have to work next monday?" - "no, i'm on holiday" | "Musst du nächsten Montag arbeiten?" - "nein, ich habe frei/Urlaub/Ferien" | "Ich habe frei"

[ frei = free | Urlaub = holiday | Ferien = school holiday ]

  1. "Frei habe ich ..."

There is missing the second part of this sentence. When you just say "frei habe ich" you point to a part of a sentence you do not say. Everybody in German would ask back, "wann?" - "when?".

Correctly you'd say "Frei habe ich am Montag, denn da ist Feiertag." | "free I have on Monday, which is a public holiday"

  1. "Ich bin frei"

You say only that you are free, "ich bin frei" when you want to share your time, like when someone likes to dance with you, or asks you to share your time. Or once everything is done,... "I'm finished" "i'm free" "it's done"

  1. "Frei bin ich ..." This you say when someone asks you if you have time, and you do not have free time at the moment, but again every german would wait till you finish your sentence like:

"Ab wann sind sie wieder Frei?" / "Ab wann haben sie Zeit?" - "Frei bin ich in einer Stunde" / "in einer Stunde habe ich Zeit"

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