Ich bin nur etwas nervös.

This sentence literally translates into "I'm just something nervous", correct? So does it basically mean "I'm just a little nervous"?

How does it compare with the version that omits the word "etwas"?

Ich bin nur nervös.

  • Did you use a dictionary? "something" is only one of many translations for "etwas", and clearly not the right one in your example sentence. dict.leo.org/… – Robert Jul 22 '16 at 3:38
  • somewhat nervous would have been a better choice than something.. – Chieron Jul 22 '16 at 7:41

You are correct about both the translation and the meaning of etwas in this sentence. You could replace etwas with ein bisschen and the meaning would stay the same.

Ich bin nur ein bisschen nervös.

You can do the same in many other cases, such as

Sie nahm etwas Salz. = Sie nahm ein bisschen Salz.

Ich brauche etwas Geld. = Ich brauche ein bisschen Geld.

As to how it compares to the sentence without the etwas.. The same as in English!

Ich bin nur etwas nervös. = I'm just a bit nervous.

Ich bin nur nervös. = I'm just nervous.

The first one sounds a bit milder than the second one.

| improve this answer | |
  • Well, and the two sentences (with and without "etwas") can have different use cases. E.g.: "Are you nervous?" "Well, yes. But I am just a bit nervous" versus "Are you fine? You don't look too well." "Yes, I'm fine. I'm just nervous. That's it." Of course, the latter one would be fine with "just a bit", too. – Em1 Jul 22 '16 at 6:23

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