How do you express "to be used to something" when the object is a phrase. For example "I am accustomed to drinking coffee every morning." Can the direct object of "sich gewöhnen" be a stand-alone Nebensatz or does it have to be referred to with the preposition "an" as below?

Which is correct?

"Ich gewöhne mich daran, Kaffe jeden Morgen zu trinken." OR "Ich gewöhne mich, Kaffe jeden Morgen zu trinken."

2 Answers 2

  • I am accustomed to drinking coffee every morning.

This is usually phrased as:

Ich bin daran gewöhnt, jeden Morgen Kaffee zu trinken.

That daran is the crucial part. The verb phrase is an etwas gewöhnt sein — to be accustomed to something and it has that prepositional object an etwas. If you want to use a clause instead of a noun phrase, you have to retain the preposition. That's the purpose of the da-adverb daran. It has that an built in so the verb phrase of the main clause is complete.

Note that there is another way to phrase this:

Ich bin es gewöhnt, jeden Morgen Kaffee zu trinken.

This is a different verb phrase gewöhnt sein without a prepositional object. It uses a plain accusative object instead. If you want to use a clause instead of an accusative object, you often need an es in the main clause.

  • The question refers to the reflexive verb "sich gewöhnen" - "to get used to/to adapt to". You're talking about the adjective with "sien", "gewohnt sein" - "fo be used to/adapted to". It's a different phrasing, and I'm not sure that it means exactly the same thing. In any case, my DWDS search turned up many examples of the reflexive version, e.g. "Sie werden sich dran gewöhnen." so I think it deserves some discussion even if it's not the most common phrasing.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jan 25 at 22:31
  • It doesn't mean the same thing. The phrase I'm accustomed to cannot be translated with gewöhnen and neither sich gewöhnen. Those call for to accustom someone/yourself to. You have to use the Zustandspassiv gewöhnt sein or the alternative gewohnt sein.
    – Janka
    Commented Jan 25 at 22:47
  • The adjective is actually gewohnt. Gewöhnt is the past participle of the verb gewöhnen.
    – tofro
    Commented Jan 26 at 9:22

Remember that German doesn't have a direct (or indirect) object.

Your sentence "Ich gewöhne mich daran, Kaffee jeden Morgen zu trinken." sounds better than "Ich gewöhne mich, Kaffee jeden Morgen zu trinken." but I wouldn't call the second sentence wrong. But it doesn't express the state of being used to something, it expresses the process of getting used to something.

If you are already used to something, you can say "Ich bin es gewohnt, Kaffee jeden Morgen zu trinken."

Also, the word order "Kaffee jeden Morgen zu trinken" is slightly unusual and puts the emphasis on the coffee. You could use it to say that you drink coffee, not tea. Otherwise I would use "jeden Morgen Kaffee zu trinken"

In German, "Kaffee" is written with two "f" and two "e", as is coffee in English.

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