Heute machen wir es uns zu Hause gemütlich.

I am just beginning study Deutsch. My understanding of this sentence is:

Today we make us comfortable at home.

I don’t know why there is an es. It confuses me. Is there a special meaning or just as a auxiliary word or a pronoun?

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    – Jan
    Nov 6, 2016 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Es is a fill-in substantive used when you are in desperate need of a subject or object, but there isn't one. Take the simpler sentence

Wir machen es gemütlich.

We make it comfortable.

See the es in the English sentence? In both German and English, es is the direct object, and required.

Wir machen es uns gemütlich.

We make us comfortable.

German and English differ about who is the direct object. English thinks us is the direct object because it is made comfortable. German instead still thinks es is the direct object, because the surroundings are made gemütlich ("pleasing") to uns (which is the indirect object).

So this is all about a different view what "gemütlich machen" means.

  • 1
    There actually is a name for this. Such "dummy pronoms", that are needed to construct a valid sentence, are called Expletivum (German) or syntactic expletive (English). So, not every expletive has four letters ;) Another example that directly translates to English (and French, btw) would be "es regnet" - "it rains" - "il pleut". There's no actual "it" doing the raining, but you have to have a subject. Nov 6, 2016 at 19:16
  • @Henning Kockerbeck: It was interesting to know German in general doesn't need such an Expletivum at the many occasions English needs it but at this occasion it does while English does not. I never thought too much about this before.
    – Janka
    Nov 6, 2016 at 19:36
  • Wow, thanks very much. Does it means, "Today we make it comfortable to us." ? and make it comfortable to us = make us comfortable? Is there any other examples like this?
    – Echo Yang
    Nov 7, 2016 at 1:27
  • Yes. Yes. Yes. In English, indirect objects are rarely used. Only if some person really receives something. In German, they are used when something is done for someone, too. English uses a prepositional object or changes the direct object instead.
    – Janka
    Nov 7, 2016 at 12:55
  • 1
    It looks like there are varying views on what an Expletive is. The Duden calls any "für den Sinn des Satzes entbehrliches Wort" an Expletive, even if it doesn't fullfil a grammatical function ("Ob er wohl Zeit hat?"). Other sources maintain a stricter definition. Nov 8, 2016 at 14:02

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