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I hope you’re all well and enjoying some sunshine, wherever you are! Today I want to bring you part 2 of my clothes-themed posts (the first is here). I wanted to write about a couple of words & phrases surrounding clothing because, although a straight-forward subject, there are a few bits & pieces that I think can seem confusing at first. My first post will show you how many different words there are for the word ‘clothes’, and how and when to use them. In this post, I’ll try to explain the verbs surrounding the topic of clothes.
To state what you’re wearing, you’d say ‘Ich trage ____’. Example: ‘Ich trage eine Bluse’ – ‘I’m wearing a blouse’. When you learn this at school you’re just told this is the verb to use, and you accept it. But the verb tragen also means ‘to carry’, which makes sense because you ‘carry’ clothes on your body, too. But this verb isn’t restricted to clothes. Example: ‘Ich trage eine Schachtel’ – ‘I carry/I’m carrying a box’. Seems confusing? Fear not! Unless your personal style is particularly avant-garde, it’s unlikely you’re actually wearing a box. With that in mind, it’s fairly easy to recognise when tragen means ‘to wear’ and when it means ‘to carry’.
Literally ‘to pull on’. This is a reflexive and separable verb, so to use it you’d say ‘Ich ziehe mich an’. You can remember that anziehen is ‘to get dressed’ because the prefix ‘an’ looks like the English word on.
Literally ‘to pull off/out’. Also a reflexive and separable verb, so to use it you’d say ‘Ich ziehe mich aus’. You can remember that ausziehen is ‘to get undressed’ because the prefix ‘aus’ sounds like the English word out.
You use this if you’re already dressed, but you want to change into something else. Again, it follows the same rule as the other verbs, so you’d say, ‘Ich ziehe mich um’. But! The verb umziehen also means ‘to move house’! To make sure you’re saying you’re changing clothes and NOT telling your friends you’re moving out, be sure to say ‘Ich ziehe mich um’ rather than ‘Ich ziehe um’. Missing out that ‘mich’ is what changes the phrase completely.
Has someone ever looked you up and down and said, ‘What on earth are you wearing?’ Yeah. Me, too. In German, you’d say ‘Was hast du denn an?’ You might say this one is pretty similar to verb #1 – tragen – and you’d be right. Here are two ways of saying ‘I’m wearing a blouse’, using both verbs:
It’s important to note, however, that anhaben only works when describing something you’re already wearing. Saying ‘Ich trage heute eine Bluse’ (‘I’m wearing a blouse today’) works whether you’re wearing one at the time of saying this sentence or not, because you might be saying you are currently wearing one, or that you are planning on wearing one today. ‘Ich habe heute eine Bluse an’, on the other hand, can ONLY be said if you are wearing a blouse at the time of saying it.
But don’t be too worried about these little differences. The main thing is to acquaint yourselves with the different verbs for now. 🙂
I hope this has been helpful. Any questions or suggestions, do leave a comment!