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I get confused each time I see sich in a sentence.

I know it's used with reflexive verbs, but the problem is sometimes I cannot convince myself of the way it's used. Examples like:

In der Presse wie auch im Fernsehen finden sich zunehmend Meldungen über die verheerenden Folgen des Spielens am Computer.

Eine Klasse für sich

Frauen unter sich

Deutschland schafft sich ab.

I found it really hard to explain what's the meaning of "sich" and what are rules about its usage, are there any rules which replies to my question?

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  • How not to use »sich«: images05.noen.at/online-wahlplakat-fpoe-horn-2sp-top.jpg/… »Wir setzen sich ein dass der Kindergarten in Breiteneich erhalten bleibt« (This would be correct: »Wir setzen uns dafür ein, dass der Kindergarten in Breiteneich erhalten bleibt.«) Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 10:08
  • @Hubert the FPÖ poster even says »das der Kindergarten« (which is wrong) :) Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 1:09

1 Answer 1

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"sich" can often be translated to "himself/herself/itself, themselves" (*) or "each other", which covers all but one of your examples:

Eine Klasse für sich. -> A class of its own (or, literally, by itself).

Frauen unter sich. -> Women among themselves.

Deutschland schafft sich ab. -> Germany abolishes itself.

Your first example is a different breed though:

In der Presse wie auch im Fernsehen finden sich zunehmend Meldungen über die verheerenden Folgen des Spielens am Computer. -> In the press and on TV, more and more reports on the devastating effects of PC games can be found.

This is the reflexive form of "finden" which is used here as a figure of speech to avoid an acting person in the sentence, very much in the same way as the passive voice is used in its English equivalent. "Sich" can only be used though with reflexive verbs.


(*) cf. "mich" - "myself", "dich" - "yourself", "uns" - "ourselves", "euch" - "yourselves"

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