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Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann

Irgendwie fängt irgendwann irgendwo die Zukunft an.
Somehow, somewhere the future begins sometime.
Caption 4, Nena: Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann

 

Again, we are happy to respond to a subscriber request! The lyrics above by German singer Nena are a good point of departure for a lesson on irgend, which as a prefix has a similar function to “some-” or “any-” in English. It is used to augment adverbs and pronouns to demonstrate a lack of specificity or information. 

 

Irgendwo is perhaps the simplest of these words, translating to “somewhere.”  

 

Du wirst bestimmt irgendwo am Strand sein. -Ja, genau. Am Meer.    
You will surely be somewhere at the beach. -Yes, exactly. At the sea.
Caption 50, Konjugation: Das Verb „sein“

 

Irgendwie translates to “somehow,” but is also used in spoken German to express “in some way,” “in any way,” or even “sort of.”

 

Irgendwie muss man ihr ja helfen.
Somehow she has to indeed be helped.
Caption 5, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

 

The adverb irgendwann covers the English phrases “someday,” “sometime,” or “at some point,” which means it can refer to a non-specific time in either the past or the future. 

 

Aber irgendwann, als man mich nicht mehr gezwungen hat, hab ich dann meine persönliche Liebe zur Musik entdeckt.
But at some point, when I wasn't forced to anymore, I discovered my own love for music.
Captions 36-37, Deutsche Bands: Glashaus

 

But let’s not stop here! You have also probably seen irgendein and irgendwelche, which translate to “any” or “some.” The important thing to remember is that they behave similarly to adjectives and will always have the appropriate ending based on the conditions of the sentence. As you might guess, irgendein is never used in the plural. See this useful chart for irgendwelche.

 

Nun, wenn Sie irgendwelche Fragen haben: Ich werde in meinem Büro sein.
So, if you have any questions, I will be in my office.
Caption 49, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

 

Haben Sie den Namen von irgendeiner Autovermietung?
Do you have the name of any car rental company?
Caption 16, Reiseplanung: Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

 

For the pronoun “someone” or “somebody,” it is common to see both irgendwer and irgendjemand

 

Irgendjemand kocht Kaffee in der Luftaufsichtsbaracke.
Someone is making coffee in the air traffic control hut.
Captions 29-30, Reinhard Mey: Über den Wolken

 

You may also have seen irgendwas and irgendetwas. These are more or less synonyms, which are even less specific than etwas (“something”) and are usually translated as “anything.”

 

Sagen Sie mir Bescheid, wenn ich irgendetwas tun kann.
Tell me if I can do anything.
Caption 58, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern


Further Learning
There are a myriad of examples on Yabla German where you can see these words in use. Make sure you understand the declensions required for irgendein and irgendwelche. Irgendjemand and irgendwer also sometimes require a different ending — can you figure out when this might occur?

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