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"Personally" and "in person"

Have you ever noticed that the adverb persönlich in German has three possible translations in English? Let's take a look. 

 

As you would expect, it can mean "personally":
 

Mir ist es persönlich 'ne Herzensangelegenheit,

For me personally, it's a matter that's near and dear to my heart,

Caption 12, Berlin - Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

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Sometimes it has more or less this meaning, but is better translated as "he himself" or "she herself":
 

Nein, er hat tatsächlich auf meinem, äh, Telefonapparat angerufen. -Persönlich?

No, he actually called me on my, uh, telephone. -Himself?

Caption 6, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 1

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Reisen, vielleicht sogar mit Niki Lauda persönlich als Piloten [sic, Pilot] – ab Frankfurt ist das möglich, dreimal täglich, morgens, mittags und abends.

Traveling, perhaps even with Niki Lauda himself as pilot — it's possible from Frankfurt three times a day, in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

Captions 58-59, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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You may also sometimes see the word höchstpersönlich, which can be used to emphasize that a task or appearance won't be delegated to another person. 

 

However, persönlich can also mean "in person":

 

War ja... Wir haben... wir haben ihn zum ersten Mal auch persönlich kennenlernen dürfen.

It was indeed... We were... we were also allowed to meet him in person for the first time.

Caption 32, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 2

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Das kann man entweder persönlich tun in einer Filiale oder online.

You can do that either in person at a branch or online.

Caption 14, Eva erklärt - Bankkonten

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One thing to remember: persönlich does not mean "personable"! This would be sympathisch or freundlich
 

 

Further Learning
Search for more examples on Yabla German and try out a few sentences of your own in which you use persönlich to talk about your personal experiences, preferences, and opinions, or to talk about something you will do yourself or in person. 

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