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Here is an example sentence from DWDS for beschäftigen:

Das Kind war mit dem Hund beschäftigt.

I am wondering which of the following interpretations is more appropriate:

  1. The kid was busy with taking care of the dog (e.g. bathing it, feeding it, etc.).

  2. The kid was busy in playing with the dog.

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    Was sagt denn das Wörterbuch? – user unknown Apr 5 '17 at 15:20
  • @userunknown the dictionary does not give individual interpretation for individual examples, that is why i resorted to this forum – Lynnyo Apr 6 '17 at 1:33
  • @userunknown the example i quoted in the post is shown under the following Bedeutung entry: ⟨sich mit etw., jmdm. beschäftigen⟩sich mit etw., jmdm. befassen, sich einer Sache, jmdm. widmen – Lynnyo Apr 6 '17 at 1:37
  • It may be hard to understand if your native language doesn't contain this verb. On English I would say, it means around "investing time to something", "doing something (continously) with anything" or "taking care with something". In this context it could be translated as "The kid played with the dog". But I am not very well on English and also not on German :-) – peterh Apr 7 '17 at 23:51
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Eytibi is right, but for me it sounds more like playing with the dog. If you want to say 'The kid took care of the dog' in most cases you would use "Das Kind hat sich um den Hund gekümmert".

To be exact:

'The kid was busy with taking care of the dog.' = "Das Kind war damit beschäftigt, sich um den Hund zu kümmern."

'The kid was busy in playing with the dog.' = "Das Kind war damit beschäftigt, mit dem Hund zu spielen."

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"beschäftigen" means just busy with something. It does not really specify if it is playing with or taking care of the dog.

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To be "beschäftigt" with something (like a dog), is to be "taken up" or "occupied" by it. "Busy with" it, is a good informal definition as well.

It doesn't have any further meaning, so you should not be inferring how the kid was "busy."

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