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In the Slow German podcast #185, she has

Alexander beschäftigte sich als Kind gerne mit Insekten, Steinen und Pflanzen.

I translate "als Kind gerne" as, "as children are want to do". But a more literal translation might be, "as child likes". Why is this not

als Kinder gerne

or

als ein Kind gerne?

which would be "as a child is want to do".

"als Kinder gerne" would be my choice, but after a search I do find quite a few examples of the phrase she uses. Is this simply an idomatic expression? Any suggestions regarding where such idiomatic expressions can be found documented?

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In the sentence

Alexander beschäftigte sich als Kind gerne mit Insekten, Steinen und Pflanzen.

"gerne" refers to "beschäftigte sich", not to "als Kind".

"Sich beschäftigen" is "to occupy oneself", "gern(e) etwas tun" is "to like to do something", so "er beschäftigte sich gerne" is "he liked to occupy himself".

"Als Kind" means "as a child"/"when he was a child". Putting everything together, we get

When Alexander was a child, he liked to occupy himself with insects, stones, and plants.

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  • Yes, that's very helpful. Thank you. But why is "as a child," "als Kind", but "when he was a child," is "als er ein Kind war". Either the first should be "als ein Kind" or the second should be, "als er Kind war"? – user38158 Sep 3 '19 at 3:31
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    @Michael: "als ein Kind" is related to the state of being a child; while "als Kind" is more general, related to the time when he was a child as well as it's possible to describe the state of being a child – äüö Sep 3 '19 at 6:25

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