mir ist kalt - I am cold

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Lian77, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. Lian77 Banned

    Moderator note: see also this and this thread on the same topic. This other threads have been closed to avoid further duplication. Please reply to contributions from all threads here.

    Hello all,

    I am confused on all the cases when one says "Mir ist...." for "I am"

    Thanks a bunch! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2011
  2. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    What are you talking about, please? :)

    Mir ist es unklar - I am confused.

  3. Lian77 Banned

    I mean in what cases does one use"Mir ist.." for "I am..." compared to "Ich bin" ^.^
  4. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Please give at least one example, otherwise I will be tempted to terminate this exercise in futility. :)

  5. Saedyan Banned

    Not sure why an example is needed, it itself is quite useless. I am just looking for an explaination or help for that matter of when one uses "mir ist..." for "I am...", instead of 'Ich bin..."
  6. beclija Senior Member

    Boarisch, Österreich (Austria)
    There are several thousand pages of linguistic literature on "quirky (dative) subjects" in Germanic languages (Icelandic tops it all, but German is clear second). Nearly all of the verbs where the "subject" is in dative are something about feelings, impressions etc. Jana gave a good example: "Mir ist unklar" - "I am confused" or "it is unclear to me". Another one is "Mir ist kalt" - "I am cold" or literally "It is cold to me", or "Mir gefällt..." - "I like...", literally "... pleases me".

    One thing they have in common is that it is not a conscious action of mine, i.e. I am not the agent of my being cold, rather the "experiencer". But it remains highly arbitrary, so I guess you have to learn them one by one, there are a lot of verbs that are comparable from the meaning side, but take a normal nominative subject ("Ich bin..."). Also, there is some kind of shift going on: take the verb "frieren": Today you can say either "Ich friere" or "Mir friert", meaning the same thing. The version with "mir" is the older one.

    Middle English used to have the same kind of constructions, by the way.
  7. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    "Mir ist kalt" has another meaning than "I am cold". In "Ich bin kalt", this means either "my temperature is low", or "I am cold-hearted", "mir ist kalt" means: "it is cold in my neighborhood, the temperature outside of me is cold, and that's why I feel uncomfortable."

    "Ich friere" is default "I feel cold".
    Regionally, you can reverse it either "mich friert" or "mir friert". (I knew the version with akkusative: "mich friert", but i did not knew the version with dative: "Mir friert".

    I think, "mich friert" is in the standard language, but "mir friert" is used in some regions.

    Best regards
  8. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    "I am cold" can mean all of those things in English. :)
  9. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Yes. It is difficult in such cases to describe it properly in the other language. In the German language, some of the sentences have the same meaning to each other and some not. This makes it very difficult to declare it. In the German language, the connotations are different.

    The essential part:

    "I am cold" is not - or very seldom - the same as "Ich bin kalt".

    What to use depends on the context.

    Examples for "mir ist":

    Mir ist kalt. Mir ist warm. Mir ist es zu warm. Mir ist schlecht. Mir ist langweilig. Mir ist schwindlig.

    Examples for "ich bin"

    Ich bin hungrig. Ich bin durstig. Ich bin krank. Ich bin erkältet.
    Ich bin dumm. Ich bin klug.
    Best regards
  10. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    You have to distinguish between personal adjectives and impersonal verbs.

    Let's have a look at Hutschi's examples. They can mostly always used personally and impersonally with another meaning:

    Mir ist kalt. (I'm freezing)
    Ich bin kalt. (I'm cold-hearted)

    Mir ist warm. (I'm sweating)
    Ich bin warm. (I have a temperature)

    Mir ist es zu warm. (I can't stand the warmth/It's too warm for me)
    Ich bin zu warm. (My temperature is too high)

    Mir ist schlecht. (I feel sick)
    Ich bin schlecht. (I'm bad [at school])

    Mir ist langweilig. (I'm bored)
    Ich bin langweilig. (I'm boring)

    Mir ist schwindlich. (I feel dizzy)
    Ich bin schwindlig. :cross:

    So, you always have to decide if some feeling is subjective or impersonal. If I say "Ich bin langweilig," I'm referring to my own character. If I use "Mir ist langweilig," I'm speaking of my environment.
  11. Robert_Hope Banned

    West Midlands UK/London/Paris
    (British) English
    I once heard that "warm" also can refer to someone's sexuality in German. Would that be so if you were to say "er ist warm" or something similar?
  12. Henryk Senior Member

    Germany, German
    Er ist warm. = He's gay.
  13. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    Referring to Whodunit’s excellent posting --
    -- and to the revival of this thread --
    –- I’d say that “if the feeling is subjective” (cf. Whodunit’s terminology), it can also have the meaning “to be horny” (which seems to be deleted from modern dictionaries).

    The semantic jump from “horny” to “homosexual” :eek: must be a relatively recent development! (I am talking about a time span of about 40 years).
    –- and be aware of any change in usage. ;)
    :) :)
  14. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)

    Not quite. The meaning of warm as gay is already documented in Grimms Deutsches Wörterbuch (where it is explained as päderast) while the alleged meaning horny is not.
    For I am horny you would rather say Ich bin heiß.
  15. Quelle

    Quelle Senior Member

    Deutschland Deutsch
    Lost for words:
    "The German words for temperature are kalt = cold, warm = warm, heiß = hot. But while in Germany, I discovered you have to be very careful how you say you're feeling cold etc. You should say Mir ist kalt - I am cold. If you say Ich bin kalt it means 'I am frigid'. If you say Ich bin warm it means 'I am homosexual'. And if you say Ich bin heiß it means 'I am horny'!"
  16. Robocop Senior Member

    Central Switzerland
    (Swiss) German
  17. Robocop Senior Member

    Central Switzerland
    (Swiss) German
    I disagree completely. I find it quite difficult to think of any situation in which I would use these three-word-expressions to express in German the meaning as given in English (Ich bin kalt/Susanne ist kalt, Ich bin warm/Peter ist warm, ich bin heiss/Lukas ist heiss). It is not idiomatic language.
  18. Valakas New Member

    In portuguese we have two verbs that separate the different meanings of the verb "to be" / "sein". One is used to say the feelings, place, situation, feelings we are in - I am here, i am (feeling) hot, i am married, etc. All these use the verb "estar". The other is used when speaking about the thing / person itself, it's characteristics - I am hot, i am a human, i am kind, etc, and for these we use "ser". It's the same in spanish for those more familiar with it.

    Perhaps it's something similar in german with the mir ist and ich bin?
  19. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    I think, the difference between ser and estar in Portuguese is the same as the one between the corresponding verbs in Spanish.

    I can't think of any one example where you would render this difference of estar as opposed to ser by using a dative complement instead of a nominative complement (subject) in German.

    I don't want to exclude this possibility completely, though. If you come up with concrete examples, we can tell you whether they could represent this difference.
  20. Biddlesby Senior Member

    English (Brit.)
    That's a really helpful post Whodunit, thanks.
  21. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Moderator note: see also this and this thread on the same topic. This other threads have been closed to avoid further duplication. Please reply to contributions from all threads here.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  22. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I am also skeptical that this should be compared. The predicate kalt sein is the same in both sentences ich bin kalt and mir ist kalt. It is the adverbial mir which changes the meaning of the sentence.

    The addition of an adverbial dative of the person changes to basic meaning of the sentence from a statement the objective state of affairs to a subjective statement about the person’s condition, feelings or opinions. This applies also to sentence with an explicit subject. The fact that Es ist kalt does not have an “true” subject is circumstantial and not essential to constructs under discussion here. E.g.

    • Ob er kommt oder zuhause bleibt ist egal = Whether he will come or stay at home doesn’t matter.
    • Ob er kommt oder zuhause bleibt ist mir egal. = Whether he will come or stay at home doesn’t matter to me = I don’t care whether he will come or stay at home.
    (Note: In both cases, the clause ob er kommt oder zuhause constitutes the subject of the main sentence.)

    Hence, the sentence Mir ist kalt should be analysed as a subjective rendering of the sentence es ist kalt which is a statement about the state of the world and not a statement about particular object or person. This becomes clearer, if you use the equivalent formulation Es ist mir kalt. (The only reason why Es ist kalt cannot be shortened to *ist kalt is that a German sentence cannot start with a verb unless it is a question or an imperative.)

    By contrast, the sentence Ich bin kalt is a statement about an concrete object or person and not about the world in general, i.e. ich.

Share This Page