Is there any difference between "etwas üben" and "sich in etwas üben" ? Example:
- die Kalligraphie üben
- sich in der Kalligraphie üben
German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.Sign up to join this community
Yes, there is a difference. However, it is subtle and they are mostly interchangeable.
"Etwas üben" refers to one specific skill or action while "Sich in etwas üben" can include an array of different skills within one domain. "Kalligrafie" is a weird example since it is an activity (to write purposely in a certain way) and a broader topic at the same time and it is rare and most people don't have a nuanced understanding of it. A better example would be sports.
Let's say you play Basketball. If your coach says you need to improve your aim, you can say "heute übe ich Zielen". The next day he says that you should improve on your dribble. "Heute übe ich dribbeln". In both cases, you can say "Ich übe mich in Basketball".
On the other hand, playing Basketball is a skill too, and aiming includes an array of different subskills. As I said, they are mostly interchangeable but "Sich in etwas üben" has a more general connotation at least in standard German. Dialects may use them differently.