I’m through / Ich bin durch

This post is one of a series on ‘Germanisms in American English’ and should be read in conjunction with the introductory post here.

I’m through
Ich bin (jetzt/schon) durch

I tend to think of English through and German durch as prepositions, but they can also be used as adverbs or even adjectives. In the above phrases, for instance, they are adjectives – synonymous with finished and fertig. The following two English examples are taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary1:

»  I’m not through yet. I have one more topic to discuss.
If you’re through using the phone, I’d like to use it next.  «

Growing up in the UK, I only ever heard this use of through on American TV and films, so I’ve always assumed it was an Americanism. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary describes this usage as ‘especially North American English’, while dict.cc has an entry for ‘Are you through with it?’ which it labels ‘[Am.] [coll.]’ (American colloquial).

As for the German equivalent, the Duden dictionary defines this usage of durch as a colloquial synonym for fertig (finished), and gives the following example:

»  mit dem Lehrbuch bin ich jetzt durch (habe es durchgearbeitet)  « 2
Translation: I’m through with the textbook now (I’ve worked my way through it)

1 Scroll down to the section entitled ‘Examples of through in a sentence’ and expand that section to see more.

2 Duden online lists this usage of durch under the category ‘Adverb’, despite defining it as a synonym of fertig, which it considers to be an ‘Adjektiv’. This may be because this usage is viewed as an element of the compound verb participle durchgearbeitet (as the above-cited example shows), and hence as an adverb.

One thought on “I’m through / Ich bin durch

  1. Salmiaki 25. Feb 2018 / 16:33

    And then there’s “einfach nur übelst durch sein” – being an absolute train wreck of a human being or completely done with life after a long night of partying. Or both ^^.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.