Die Spinne kümmerte sich um die Hütte.


The spider took care of the cottage.

But why do we need to add sich um? Why not just:

Die Spinne kümmerte die Hütte.

  • 7
    Because, uh, it would mean something else? It's like asking, why can't we say, in English, The spider took care the cottage, or even The spider took the cottage.
    – chirlu
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:33
  • 5
    What chirlu is trying to tell you is that asking "why isn't it like it is in English" is not a good approach to language learning.
    – Emanuel
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:48
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    The question "why isn't it" followed by an English sentence comes across naive and a bit narrow minded. Why should it be like the English sentence? Instead of asking "why" just ask "what is the function of this and that". That's something we can answer. But "why"... the answer to that is "that's how it is, is all."
    – Emanuel
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:55
  • 1
    Well, then just write "what's the function" next time rather than "why". A "why not like [English example]" makes me not want to answer the question. Also: Where do you ask "is sich um a fixed match"? No, it's not. Verbs come with a preposition and sometimes a reflexive. And sometimes the resulting combination is "sich um"
    – Emanuel
    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:02
  • 1
    Then you must have assumed that I was an ignorant and arrogant American, Lol.
    – pxc3110
    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:08

2 Answers 2


Well, in this case it's sich kümmern as kümmern is a reflexive verb AFAIK (and I'm not good at grammar but a German speaker).

And to express care about something/somebody (or more exactly to take care of something/someone), you need to use sich um etwas/jemanden kümmern.

In spoken German you could say:

Wen kümmert's?


Wen kümmert es?

(who cares) but this is the only situation that comes to my mind where kümmern is used without the reflexive form.

Some useful links:

Here you find some reflexive verbs in German:

  • Are there any other situations in which you need to add "sich um"?
    – pxc3110
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:48
  • @pxc3110... there are plenty and there are thousands with "sich auf" and "sich vor" and so on. The "um" is the same as the English "of" in "take care of".
    – Emanuel
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:51
  • What role does "sich" play here? Maybe Germans like to be humurous and add "sich" without any reason?
    – pxc3110
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:54
  • 2
    @pxc3110: Yes, Germans are world-renouned for their sense of humour.
    – chirlu
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:57
  • 1
    @pxc3110 "sich" just indicates that the verb is reflective. And you might consider this while conjugating "ich kümmere mich, du kümmerst dich, ... wir kümmern uns,..." It's just the same as myself/yourself for example i washed the car and i wash myself the last example is reflexive
    – Medi1Saif
    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:17


Die Spinne kümmerte die Hütte.

Here, "die Spinne" would be in the accusative case, "die Hütte" in the nominative case, and it would mean that the hut troubles (or concerns) the spider. This is not the intended meaning.

Since nominative and accusative have identical forms here, it would also be possible that the roles are reversed and the hut is sad about the spider, but that seems even less likely.

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