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I want to know what exactly is different in the verbs "mischen" and "vermischen". Both of them mean to mix.

Is there any example where they can mean a specific thing? Are they interchangeable?

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Depends on context. A generic answer might be that vermischen is rather "to mix up, muddle, and/or confuse" while mischen is more deliberate. However, there certainly quite a many contexts that proves me wrong on that. – Em1 Apr 22 '14 at 12:58
up vote 9 down vote accepted

An example where only one of the options is appropriate: Shuffling a deck of cards is always "mischen", never "vermischen". As a rule of thumb use "mischen" on countable sets and "vermischen" when the result is homogenous.

Beware: "mixing a drink" is neither: the correct translation is "einen Drink mixen".

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well "einen Drink mischen" is not unheard of... – Vogel612 Apr 28 '14 at 16:50

Maybe its helpful that "vermischen" indicates that there are at least 2 components while "mischen" can be of one substance. Also look for the Noun " das Gemisch" there is no noun of "vermischen".

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I upvoted because the 2-component-point is very pertinent, but I have to contest the last sentence: "Vermischung" and "Vermischtes" exists. – Phira Apr 24 '14 at 23:52

According to the german wiktionary the preposition "ver-" has several meanings (well it's an old complicated language) amongst these is the notion of a "prcess that is hard to reverse" like in to fall in love sich ver-lieben. I guess that might be a good explanation. So it wants to emphasize a process of mixing that is irreversible. So if you mix water you sill end up with water. but if you mix water and sugar (so two or more components) and you "vermisch" them then they are really mixed without an easy way to separate them. this is opposed to the deck of cards that would be easy to demix if you shuffled it.

From my feeling as a native these two words can be interchanged quite frequently without a drastic change. So if someone told me "ich vermische die Karten" I would not feel compelled to correct him ;-)

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Very good points about the irreversibility, but "ich vermische die Karten" for a professional act of shuffling feels very wrong. – Phira Apr 24 '14 at 23:58
I agree it is not the really right thing, however if someone would say that I would not feel compelled to correct him in the same way as if he said "ich vermenge die Karten" for example. Also if you say "ich vermische die roten mit den grünen Karten" it would feel right again, wouldn't you say? – Magellan88 Apr 25 '14 at 8:56
"Kannst du die Karten noch einmal mischen, damit Herz und Treff besser vermischt werden?" would sound alright. – Phira Apr 25 '14 at 23:42
Yes that's sounds exactly right to me. Just note that treff is usually Kreuz in German (I know people playing bridge usually use the French words) – Magellan88 Apr 26 '14 at 11:31
Karten vermischen? Nope! Da VERwechselst du wohl etwas. – DisplayName Apr 28 '14 at 15:14

mischen - shuffle (bring chaos into some order) vermischen - mix together (mix more than one substance together) Gemisch - Mixture - mixture of more than one component (fertig) gemischt - done mixing something (fertig) vermischt - done mixing two or more components

Yes! Der Mischvorgang ist beendet. No! Der Vermischvorgang ist beendet.

mischen --> generally increasing the entropy somewhere

vermischen --> mixing two or more things of different character together

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