Why is it "es tut mir leid" and not "es tut mich leid"?

  • I have been learning German for about a month now, and I am trying to understand the grammatical cases.

    I read that we should say es tut mir leid to say I am sorry which I take to mean it makes me sorry. This confuses me; I thought that es is the subject and I (or ich) is the object. So, why do we not use the Accusative case for I, which is mich? Why do we use that dative mir?

    My German instructor would always say Das tut mir leid. when we did not know an answer. That's too bad

    I am not sure how to research this, but I think the expression may have evolved out of *jemandem ein Leid antun* (literal meaning *inflict a woe to someone*). As Tom Au explained, since the position of a direct object is already taken by *woe*, the inflictee has to become the indirect object. The German order of objects is the same as in English phrases that omit *to* for an indirect object, e.g. *give me [indirect obj.] the butter [direct obj.]*, which means the same as *give the butter to me*.

    Just wait until you learn that it is warm/cold **to you**. But don't ever say "mir ist hungrig" ;-)

  • Tom Au

    Tom Au Correct answer

    7 years ago

    "Es tut mir leid" can be translated as "It does hurt TO me."

    Es is the the subject, tut is the verb, and mir is the INDIRECT object, while "hurt" is the direct object.

    German uses quite of few of these indirect object constructions. "Mich," of course, is the direct object form but the German construction is NOT "It hurts me," (Subject verb direct object), but rather subject, verb, indirect object, direct object.

    Aber in "Es geht mich nichts an" benutzt man "mich", nicht "mir".

    I would say “it does (i.e.: causes) sorrow to me”

    @WalterTross: I said," it does sorrow TO me," as opposed to "it does sorrow ME."

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM