In Duden's explanation of einschließen it says:

durch Abschließen der Tür niemanden zu sich hereinlassen

What does zu sich mean in the above sentence?

I am not able to relate this phrase meaningfully to the sentence. However I assume it may have meaning "towards someone", is that correct?

  • I am not able to relate this phrase meaningfully to the sentence, however if I assume it may have meaning "towards someone"
    – ughi tudhi
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 6:35
  • towards someone Not really. In the English translation, it completely disappears (don't let anyone in by locking the door). With other examples the closest translation seems to become yourself (zu sich einladen => invite to yourself). Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 6:44
  • I have edited the question for you now. Take care to be clear from start next time you ask please. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 6:55

2 Answers 2

  • durch Abschließen der Tür

    by locking the door

  • niemanden hereinlassen

    let nobody in; don't let anybody in

  • zu sich

    to yourself

  • German:
    Die Phrase »sich einschließen« bedeutet »durch Abschließen der Tür niemanden zu sich hereinlassen«.
  • English:
    The phrase "lock yourself in" means "don't let anyone in to yourself by locking the door".

You also could lock the door from outside to let nobody in, but this is not the meaning of "sich einschließen". "Sich einschließen" means, that you are in the room that is locked.

The words "zu sich" express a direction. They mean "towards the speaker". Also the prefix "her-" in "hereinlassen" indicates, that the speaker is in the room. (The prefix "her-" means a movement towards the speaker.)


The first thing to understand about einschließen is that it has several meanings: it can mean "to include" or "to encompass", but obviously the meaning talked about here is "to lock in", "to lock away" or "to lock up". It can be used with persons as well as with things and is a separable verb:

Man soll Wertgegenstände einschließen.
Der Wärter schließt den Gefangenen ein.

One should lock away valuables and the warder locks up the prisoner.

There is also a reflexive form of this verb - sich einschließen - which means basically the same, just that you do it (to) yourself: you lock the door behind you so that nobody can come in. This reflexive form is meant by the explanation of the Duden. You can use this literally:

Ich habe mich aus Furcht eingeschlossen.

I locked myself in because of fear. but you can also use it in a derived way:

Er schließt sich in seiner Trauer ein.

He locks himself up in his mourning - he is mourning so much that nobody can get (emotional) contact to him.

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