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I had a few questions about the meaning of "sich etwas (dative) anschließen". It seems that there is many similar, but distinct meanings of this word that I'm struggling to get a good feeling for. Let me give some examples:

  1. Ich sehe eine Gruppe Freunde. Ich werde sie fragen, ob ich mich ihnen anschließen darf.

    I see a group of friends. I will ask them if I am allowed to join.

  2. Der Mann schloß sich der politischen Partei an.

  3. Der man schließt sich der Ideologie der Partei an.

  4. Ich schließe mich dir an.

    (I agree with you?)

Now, example 1 would suggest that "sich anschließen" simply means "join". This is consistent with example 2. However, "join" does not work anymore for examples 3 and 4, and hence I suspect that this does not simply mean "to join".

Is there a fundamental difference in the use of the word when we are talking about organizations and ideas? Or is there actually some common theme between the uses in 1,2, and 3,4?

  • It also means to follow or to concur. – Janka Jun 4 '18 at 20:27
  • @Janka thanks! So, when somebody says, "Ich schließe mich der Partei an", is there a common understanding of whether I am joining the party, or if I just agree with their ideas? – Mark Jun 4 '18 at 20:28
  • You need much more context to decide on this. – Janka Jun 4 '18 at 20:30
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    It really all means to join, just sometimes figuratively. (Of course I do not claim that you could always actually use join in English for it.) – Carsten S Jun 4 '18 at 21:05
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    Don't try to understand the meaning of words or phrases in one language by translating them into another language. This works only is some special cases. Try to learn how to use them in their own language. If you want to learn German you must think in German. English is a foreign language to me. When I listen to someone talking in English, when I read English texts, when I speak English and when I write in English I always think in English. Otherwise it wouldn't work. I still make many mistakes, but my English would be way worse if I tried to translate everything. – Hubert Schölnast Jun 5 '18 at 7:02
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"Sich jdm./etw. anschließen" basically has three meanings. The boundaries between them are fluid.

1. join sb./sth.

Examples:

Ich sehe eine Gruppe Freunde. Ich werde sie fragen, ob ich mich ihnen anschließen darf. – I see a group of friends. I will ask them if I am allowed to join.

Ich habe mich kürzlich mehreren Vereinen angeschlossen. – I have recently joined several clubs.

Ich habe einen Mitgliedsbeitrag gezahlt, um mich dem Golfclub anzuschließen. – I paid a membership fee to join the golf club.

2. associate oneself with sb./sth.

Examples:

Der Mann schloss sich einer politischen Partei an. – The man associated himself with a political party.

Ich schließe mich dieser Aussage an. – I associate myself with this statement. (I agree/concur with this statement.)

Ich schließe mich dir an. – I associate myself with you. (I agree with you/I have the same opinion as you.)

3. follow sb./sth.

Examples:

Der Mann schließt sich der Ideologie der Partei an. – The man follows the ideology of the party.

Wir schlossen uns den anderen an, weil sie den Weg kannten. – We followed the others because they knew where to go.

  • This is a fantastic answer! The only thing I have a question about is number 2. When you say, "associate with", do you mean, "agree with", or "identify with"? When I head, "I associate myself with a group", I hear, "I identify myself with". But in this case, "Ich schließe mich dieser Aussage an" is a little odd. What exactly do you mean with "associate with" here. Thanks again for your fantastic help! – Mark Jun 4 '18 at 22:10
  • @Mark I have added some more explanation. I basically mean "agree" or "concur". "Identify" is to overstated in my opinion. Please pay particular attention to Hubert Schölnast's comment. – tavkomann Jun 5 '18 at 18:42

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