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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

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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“

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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

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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,

But at some point, when I wasn't forced to anymore

hab ich dann meine persönliche Liebe zur Musik entdeckt.

I discovered my own love for music.

Captions 36-37, Deutsche Bands - Glashaus

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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.


Nun, wenn Sie irgendwelche Fragen haben:

So, if you have any questions,

Ich werde in meinem Büro sein.

I will be in my office.

Caption 49, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Haben Sie den Namen von irgendeiner Autovermietung?

Do you have the name of any car rental [company]?

Caption 16, Reiseplanung - Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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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

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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

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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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