9

An example from my workbook is:

Ich erinnere mich genau daran, wie ich mit dem Klavierunterricht begonnen habe.

I was wondering if the sentence would be correct without daran. So it would be:

Ich erinnere mich genau, wie ich mit dem Klavierunterricht begonnen habe.

I think that it is not correct without daran because the verb erinnern requires the preposition an. And to use a preposition with a clause, you must use the da-compound, i.e., daran. Is that right?

5

Actually, erinnern is quite a difficult verb!

In the context of to remember, there are the following possibilities:

  1. with genitive:

    Ich erinnere mich meines letzten Geburtstags.

    No an required, because of genitive. This is quite formal German, most people won’t say it anymore.

  2. Most common: sich [an etwas] erinnern. Sich cannot be skipped. When directly referring to a noun, an also cannot be skipped:

    Ich erinnere mich an meinen Geburtstag.

    not

    ich erinnere meinen letzten Geburtstag.

    (actually, this is sometimes said, especially in northern Germany, but it’s only informal language!)

But in other phrases, an is optional: It can be said

Ich erinnere mich nicht [daran], dich gesehen zu haben.

It can also be said

Ich erinnere mich [daran], wie wir nach Frankreich gefahren sind.

Or

“Erinnerst du dich an Sarahs Hund, den kleinen schwarzen?” – “Ja, ich erinnere mich [an ihn].”

When not referring directly to a noun (person, event, object …) but such as remember doing something the an or daran can be skipped. I’d be perfectly fine with

Ich erinnere mich genau, wie ich Klavierunterricht begonnen habe.

But not with “Ich erinnere meine Klavierlehrerin”! That would only be correct in the context of to remind sb. of something:

Ich erinnere meine Klavierlehrerin an den Termin.

jemanden an etwas erinnern.

For further information see the Duden page of erinnern

  • You’re right, Duden mentions erinnern + genitive as a more literary usage: „Ich erinnere mich seiner“. I’d use entsinnen + genitive instead, though: „Ich entsinne mich seiner“. Sounds more German to me. – Philipp Oct 13 '15 at 12:06
  • Do you have any sources about "Ich erinnere meinen letzten Geburtstag" being used in (informal) northern German? – JackWhiteIII Oct 13 '15 at 20:30
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    So if I understand correctly, you're saying "Ich erinnere mich genau, wie ich mit dem Klavierunterricht begonnen habe." is correct, although it does not have "dar(an)"? And that "an" is only necessary for "sich erinnern" when it is referring to a Noun? – Zachary Oct 14 '15 at 9:38
  • @Zachary: Yes, at least that's what I believe. I used to think it might be rather informal, a kind of ellipse, where you just skip the "daran" because of laziness, but according to the Duden it's perfectly fine. But I don't know it for sure because I haven't studied German language ;) But for sure, it's very common to say "Ich erinnere mich, wie...". – Sunny Oct 14 '15 at 10:00
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    @Jan: Thanks for editing the quotes. Maybe "ich erinnere mich, wie..." vs. "ich erinnere mich daran, wie..." is both possible and it's a question of personal taste. Just like e.g. der Keks/das Keks. Das Keks sounds horribly wrong to me, but it's correct ;) – Sunny Oct 14 '15 at 10:09
3

Yes, the problem here is the verb sich an etwas erinnern requiring an addition with an.1 Similarly for an etwas denken or mit etwas umgehen, and contrary to etwas wissen. Compare:

Ich erinnere mich genau daran, wie ich mit dem Klavierunterricht begonnen habe.

Ich denke noch oft daran, was ich damals für dumme Fehler gemacht habe.

Ich konnte damit nicht umgehen, wie mein Lehrer mich getadelt hat.

Ich weiß immer noch, wie ich heulend in der Ecke saß.


1: A rather new development, maybe deriving from English and to the best of my knowledge more prevalent in North Germany tends to allow *etwas erinnern. Thus, that would allow non-standard

*Ich erinnere genau, wie ich mit dem Klavierunterricht angefangen habe.

However, if you sound foreign, many people will correct you towards using the traditional sich an etwas erinnern construction.

I was corrected by this question that apart from a second usage jemanden an etwas erinnern (to remind somebody of something) a third usage of the verb erinnern is documented in the variant etwas erinnern, which is too old to be blamed on the English usage of to remember. Personally, I consider etwas erinnern to not follow any standard I am aware of, but if one allows the construction, then that would most likely also allow the second sentence you proposed. Opinions still seem to differ whether this usage is or is not restricted to northern Germany. (However, most of the quotes presented in the question either are Northerners or can also be read as jemanden an etwas erinnern.)

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    Etwas erinnern ist nicht neu. – Carsten S Oct 13 '15 at 11:45
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    @chirlu I do not consider sich erinnern alone valid. I would answer your quoted question ‘Ja, daran erinnere ich mich’. Dass would work just like wie, was or other conjunctions. – Jan Oct 13 '15 at 11:56
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    @Jan: Interesting. I’d really like to know if that is a personal or regional thing. (In the general world, "erinnere mich wie" is much more common than "erinnere mich daran wie". Approximately same ratio for dass.) – chirlu Oct 13 '15 at 12:23
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    @Zachary: Just to ping you about the discussion, before you run away with the firm impression that erinnere mich, wie is wrong. :) – chirlu Oct 13 '15 at 12:25
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