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I was wondering how you would interpret the following sentences:

  1. Nimm irgendein Glas!
  2. Nimm ein Glas!

Imagine you need a glass, but you do not care which glass in particular. You need it to drink or to do something else. In English, you would say something like Take any glass!. Which sentence (1 or 2) do you find closer?

Now imagine that one the glasses is actually broken. Would you still be able to say 1? In other words, is it true that you interpret 1 as saying: you can take a glass, and any one would do?

1 Answer 1

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The second sentence is the more common one. It already implies that it doesn't matter which one. In Germany one would usually add "Dir" in this case to make it more idiomatic, although it can be omitted.

Nimm Dir ein Glas

The first is only used if you really want to emphasize that it is the free choice of the other person. It would be used to answer a question like

Welches Glas soll ich nehmen?

Or it is a phrase of e.g. magicians to emphasize that it is your free will decision and they do not influcence you (usually used with cards):

Nimm irgendeine Karte

Other than that the phrase with "irgendein Glas" is not used often.

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  • Thank you for your reply.
    – Johnny
    Oct 19, 2020 at 8:02

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