Can anyone explain to me why [sich] is put after the verb that would translate as [inquired] in the past imperfect, instead of just going with the ihre to follow it? I know that sich interprets to as [yourself]. It is a sentence from a book. The previous paragraph before this sentence infers that the main character is pressing her finger to her bluetooth while speaking.

Auf der anderen Seite des Kontinents erkundigte sich ihre modebewusste Freundin Elle sachlich: »Welche Art von Mantel?«


The verb is "sich erkundigen", and the fact that it has "sich" as part of it has to do with its etymology.

In a literal sense, kundig means informed or knowledgeable, and sich erkundigen means "to inform oneself". You see, if you drop "oneself" (= sich) from "to inform oneself", it has a completely different meaning.

The verb "erkundigen" isn't used without "sich" (any more ?) in modern German, but still that's what the "sich" comes from, and today it's just part of the reflexive verb.

  • Okay, that makes sense! Thanks alot!
    – user47996
    Mar 16 at 0:32
  • Just to add an interesting aspect: There are several uses of the scheme Saying 'becoming <adjective>' by 'er' + <adjective> + 'en', like (sich) erkundigen, (sich) erdreisten, but not all need the sich: erstarken, ertüchtigen.
    – Bowi
    Mar 16 at 8:33
  • 1
    @Bowi That's because these er-adjective-en verbs feature the reflexive pronoun only if agens and patiens are one and the same. If ertüchtigen is used without sich, it means to ertüchtigen so. other. With erstarken, you get the effect, but due to some external factor (as you can not pull yourself up by your bootstraps). Mar 16 at 12:25

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