How to Properly Say 'I'm Cold' in German

Beware of This Common German Mistake: 'Ich Bin Kalt'

Staying warm in the cold weather

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This sentence may come up quite a bit in Germany, especially during the chilly winters with an often overcast sky: "I am cold." However, it's important to beware of the direct translation from English. 

Common German mistake: Ich bin kalt
Correct: Mir ist es kalt.

Obviously, the incorrect version is an anglicism. Ich bin kalt is a typical German mistake that many students make at first. The correct version, mir ist es kalt, uses the dative of ich, namely mir. In essence, you are saying "It is cold to me."

While many Germans will understand what you mean if you say Ich bin kalt, the Ich word actually refers to the temperature of you specifically, not the air around you. In other words, your body or your personality. Ich bin kalt translates to mean "I have a cold personality," and that's not exactly the kind of thing you want to go around saying if you're new to Germany. By making the Ich dative, you become the recipient of the cold air, which, if you think about it, is actually a lot more accurate.

How to Say 'I Am Freezing' in German

The rules are a bit different if you want to say you are freezing in German. You can say "I am freezing" in several ways:

As a regular verb: Ich friere. 
As an impersonal verbMich friert or Es friert mich.

If you want to state that a specific body part is freezing, then that part of the sentence will be in the dative:

  • Es friert mich an (dative noun).
  • Es friert mich an den Füßen. (My feet are freezing.)

Similarly, you can also say Ich habe kalte Füße.

Related Expressions

Other expressions stated in the same way as Mir ist es kalt, are as follows:

  • Mir ist es warm. (I am warm.) 
  • Mir wird es warm . (I am getting warm.)
  • Mir tut (etwas) weh. (My 'something' hurts.) 
  • Mir tut es weh. (It hurts me.)
  • Ihr tut der Kopf weh. (Her head hurts.)

In addition, word order can be moved around:

  • Der Kopf tut ihr weh.  (Her head hurts.) 
  • Mein Bein tut mir weh. (My leg hurts.)
  • Es tut mir weh.  (It hurts me.) 
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Bauer, Ingrid. "How to Properly Say 'I'm Cold' in German." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Bauer, Ingrid. (2023, April 5). How to Properly Say 'I'm Cold' in German. Retrieved from Bauer, Ingrid. "How to Properly Say 'I'm Cold' in German." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).