I've been learning verbs and their prepositions with a list like this:

  • sich mit jdm. treffen
  • sich über jdn. ärgern
  • sich von jdm. trennen

Jemanden/jemandem are great for this purpose, since I can learn the phrase in a form that is close to actual usage, while still learning the correct case after the preposition. However, there are a couple of verbs that just aren't person-verbs. Such as:

  • sich an etw. erinnern
  • sich von etw. erholen
  • sich an etw. gewöhnen
  • jdn. etw. fragen

Unfortunately, the case is not apparent in the above sentences. My question is: Which word could I use instead of etwas for the latter cases, such that the grammatical case is apparent?

4 Answers 4


I think you can use the forms of jemand anyway. Duden has

sich an etwas oder jemanden gewöhnen

as example for gewöhnen.

Du kannst dich auch an jemanden erinnern oder dich von jemandem erholen.

It may not make sense for certain verbs, but does that matter? Just personify etwas ;)

  • Well, the phrases' making sense would certainly help my learning.
    – Tim
    May 26, 2011 at 20:00
  • @Tim: Of course. But the three examples you gave actually make sense with jemand :) May 26, 2011 at 20:02
  • Ok, you're right :) But there ought to be examples that don't. Feel free to edit in a better example.
    – Tim
    May 26, 2011 at 20:03
  • @Tim: I can't currently think of one. At least from a grammatical point of view, they all sound just right to me... As I said, personifying something Just Works[TM] for the ones I can think of, at least for me ;) May 26, 2011 at 20:06
  • I'll accept this because that's what I ended up doing. Thanks!
    – Tim
    May 31, 2011 at 22:40

Many dictionaries just explicitly mark the case by using A and D, as in

  • sich erinnern an + A
  • sich erholen von + D

I'm afraid that's as elegant as it gets. I mean, if there were a convenient single-word replacement for etwas, certainly every dictionary and its grandma would be using it by now.


You could also just use the noun “Etwas” instead and add an article in front of it. For example:

  • sich an das Etwas erinnern
  • sich von einem Etwas erholen
  • sich an das Etwas erinnern
  • jemanden ein Etwas fragen

Granted the last ones doesn’t make that much sense, but it still works.

Also just in case you need it:

Nominativ: das/ein   Etwas
Genitiv:   des/eines Etwas
Dativ:     dem/einem Etwas
Akkusativ: das/ein   Etwas

All verbs you mentioned can be used with both persons and things, except sich mit jdm. treffen, which can only be used with persons. So in your example you can still use jdn./jdm.

Also, at the moment I can't think of any verb that can only be used with things and requires the use of a case other than Akkusativ. This means you should be fine with using jdn./jdm./jds.

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    May 26, 2011 at 22:53

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