1. What phrase is correct for the english meaning "he is very bored"?

Es ist ihm sehr langweilig.

Ihm ist sehr langweilig.

  1. "Der Film war mir sehr langweilig." Is this phrase grammatically correct?

If so, does it mean "I was bored by the film"?

If not, how to express "I was bored by the film" other than "der Film langweilte mich"?


1 Answer 1


The sentence Es ist ihm sehr langweilig uses what I call the point-of-view dative. (This site uses the same term but for Latin.) The es here is an impersonal pronoun and in this case it stands for conditions in general; it's the same role played by "it" in "It's cold." The ihm says that the statement is only true according to "his" point of view. Literally, it says "It is, to him, very boring." Apparently boredom, to German speakers, is a quality of the environment and not individual people. German flexible word order allows you to move ihm in front of the verb, so you can rephrase the sentence as Ihm ist es sehr langweilig. The es is really just a placeholder, and since it's no longer need for V2 word order, it can be dropped, giving Ihm ist sehr langweilig. (The impersonal es is very prone to being left out, but in some situations more than others. So both versions are correct, but I think the second one is more idiomatic German.

I believe Der Film war mir sehr langweilig is grammatically correct, but there are alternatives. There is a verb langweilen you can use if something is boring someone. This is grammatically different from the adjective langweilig. So Der Film langweilte mich is possible, but I think the participle, Der Film hat mich gelangweilt, would be a more common phrasing. The English "I was bored by the film" is technically in the passive voice, so rendering it literally into German you'd get, Ich wurde von dem Film gelangweilt. But I think a somewhat looser translation would work better: Ich fand den Film langweilig./"I found the movie boring."

  • 1
    Ich fand den Film langweilig would also be my first choice.
    – guidot
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 9:54
  • To be honest: Nobody would say "Der Film war mir sehr langweilig", even if it is grammatically correct. The usual way to phrase this would be something like what RDBury said "Ich fand den Film langweilig", or even "Der Film war langweilig"
    – Gerda
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 11:08
  • 1
    I would regard Der Film war mir sehr langweilig as wrong. I think, you are mistaken when it comes to interpreting the es in the construction Es ist jmdm. sehr langweilig. This construction is rather uncommon, one would rather say Jmdm. ist sehr langweilig. When it is used, the es does not refer to some abstract entity (as the environment) but is simply an expletive es. See wikiwand.com/de/Expletivum#/Expletive_im_Deutschen. So, I think your answer is actually wrong. Hence I give -1 here.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 13:52
  • @jonathan.scholbach: I think this is mainly a matter of terminology. There are many uses of es, and I'm using "impersonal es" to refer to any use other than as the "personal es", es as a personal pronoun. To me, having different terminology for "Impersonal" and "expletive" is unnecessarily complicated, especially since "expletive" has a different meaning in English. I've found it an ongoing problem that grammars designed for learners tend to be incomplete, but grammars intended for German speakers tend to be mired in linguistic jargon, so I often create my own terminology.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 19:25
  • @jonathan.scholbach: PS. I'm not sure why you think Der Film war mir sehr langweilig is wrong. I assume your ear for incorrect German grammar is much better than mine, but I don't see what would make the sentence ungrammatical. I agree that it would not be idiomatic phrasing. You could also say that "To me, the film was very boring" is not how you would phrase the meaning in English, but I think it's still grammatically correct.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 19:30

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