I have started learning German language. I am translating phrases from local language to German for practice.

Where I translate "By arguing about things" translation comes "Indem wir uns über Dinge streiten" but if I remove "wir uns" from it, the meaning still remains the same.

Anybody knows why we use wir uns here?

  • 3
    Welcome to German.SE. Is English your local language? What translation machine creates your example? Can you link that? Is it Google? Well, google translate is only a hint, not a valid translation. What do you mean "still the same" - did you translate the leftover back (with same machine) and it produced same english phrase? (and who is "we" ... as it is not me) Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 6:53
  • Please have a look at What topics can I ask about here? for some rules here on German SE. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 6:56
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    Please check your writing. I guess it has to be "Indem wir un<b>s</b> über Dinge streiten and "wir uns" (2x), but of course I don't know your translation machine. Meanwhile I may suggest DeepL, which has to been shown a superior translation bot. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 6:57
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    @HamzaRehmanSaleemi: Welcome and Marhaba or Salam. "sich über etwas streiten" is here the correct translation of "to argue about something", not just "streiten". Note that in other situations "streiten" without reflexivity may be correct. German's not a trivial language, keep it up :-)
    – user41853
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 9:00

4 Answers 4


The difference is, that it referes to specific people (requires context who is involved). Without the "uns" it's more general. The "wir" is required, otherwise it's an incomplete sentence.


Indem über Dinge streiten is not a German sentence (unless it is meant as very economical ellipse).

The right sentence contains uns not un.

So the difference is that

Indem wir uns über Dinge streiten

is a sentence, the former is not. (We don't translate here, so I won't help with that part, unless you specify what is not clear).

Your confusion relies on the false assumption that a machine translator yields a correct sentence in the target language if and only if the source language is correct. In fact, it assumes your input is right (which as I argue, is not).


Sich streiten is a reflexive word combination (you are actor and and the same time acted on), while streiten without sich has a different meaning and is less used today (see DWDS). Thefore the sentencre becomes wrong omitting wir uns.

In this closely related question and its answers more background can be found.


c.p. has already made the most important point: machine translation will not tell you whether the input contains errors.

Grammatically speaking, indem is a finite subordinating conjunction: it introduces a clause with a subject and a finite verb (marked in bold in the following examples).

indem man über Dinge streitet
indem wir über Dinge streiten

Note that the verb streiten is frequently used reflexively, i.e. a reflexive object is added.

indem man sich über Dinge streitet
indem wir uns über Dinge streiten

German also has non-finite subordinating conjunctions where the subject must be omitted.

Sie können nicht miteinander spielen, ohne (sich) zu streiten.
They cannot play together without arguing.

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