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When somebody agrees with a point made in conversation they often say "genau" or "stimmt" (often preceeded by "ja").

So what is the difference? Is one slang and the other standard? Or is one regional?

(I usually spend my time in Germany in Bavaria or Berlin but my friends in Berlin often moved there from some other region so I get it all mixed up in my head.)

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13  
You can even say "ja, stimmt genau". –  user12889 Jun 9 '11 at 5:26
7  
Yes, that's exactly correct. Oh look, it works in English, too. –  Tim Pietzcker Jun 9 '11 at 7:22
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I sometimes teach foreigners the word "genau" and tell them that's all they need to participate in a conversation with a German... –  Jan Jun 9 '11 at 7:26
    
@Jan: xD Yeah that will work well with a lot of people... good idea! :) –  ladybug Jun 9 '11 at 8:13
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@user12889: Ja genau, stimmt! –  user unknown Mar 22 '13 at 22:52

8 Answers 8

up vote 19 down vote accepted

I personally use both words randomly to agree with what others say. Neither of these is rude or slang. In my opinion they can be used in a formal (business) discussion without any concerns.

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+1 Treffend bemerkt (just anaother related way to express my approval with the answer from Markus) –  bernd_k Jun 9 '11 at 5:36
    
Nevertheless I think "stimmt" is more "you convinced me" while "genau" is "This is exactly what I thought all the time." –  Ingo Sep 8 '11 at 15:13

The word "stimmt" can be used for two purposes:

  • As an expression that something is true: "Ist 1 + 1 2? Das stimmt!"
  • to give a waiter a tip "Waiter: Das macht dann 14.99€. You: "15€, dass stimmt schon."

"Stimmt" is casual. The main usage is the first use case. The less casual translation for "stimmt" is "korrekt", but "korrekt" can be only be used to say that something is correct.

The word genau can be simply translated to "exact".

Source: I'm a German ;-)

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Actually it’s simple for speakers of English, because there are simple, yet precise translations available:

  • genau = exactly/precisely
  • stimmt = correct/true

The use cases in German may differ from the English language, but the meaning is very clear. Neither of them is an abbreviation of the other or a combination of both, as some comments state.

Something is either correct or not correct (for example “not entirely correct”). The expression stimmt genau does not mean, that something is even more correct than correct, because that’s not possible.

People use more than only one of the two in order to express their personal degree of approval (hopefully not to express a “degree of correctness”), or simply to answer in more than one word. In German short answers are common and we often have to learn, that simply saying no or yes often does not sound very friendly, although those can be correct answers.

Which of the two to use when? – I think it’s a matter of personal preference. I seem to use genau more often than stimmt.

There is also the lesser used exakt, which translates to exactly, if that’s better for you to memorize.

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I would use "genau" when the other person gets a point I tried to make and "stimmt" when I agree to a statement I haven't thought about previously.

"Er konnte es nicht tun, weil er ihn ja eigentlich liebt." - "Weil er Lukes Vater ist." - "Genau!"

vs.

"Man sollte alles einmal probieren. Du weißt ja schließlich nicht, wieviel Zeit du hast." - "Stimmt."

I'd compare it to the (slight) difference between "exactly" and "right".

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Stimmt is relaxed, casual. If, for example, you were made aware of something that had slipped your mind and you were reminded, you would say "Stimmt." as a 'Oh yeah, true, I had forgotten about that.' or 'Of course, yes, it had slipped my mind' type of expression.

A: Don't forget to take the package to the post office!

B: Oh, ja stimmt. Danke.

Genau is really very different in the usage.

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4  
Well, do you mind giving us some details about what is different with genau? –  Em1 Mar 22 '13 at 10:51

Both "genau" and "stimmt" have the meaning of "I agree." But the connotations are slightly different.

"Genau" can be translated into English as "Check" (the box).

"Stimmt" (which can mean "vote") is more like, "Yes! That's right." (It just dawned on me.) or "I get it!"

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"Ja, genau" (Yes, exactly) is an abbreviated form of the expression "Ja, stimmt genau" (Yes, [your statement is] exactly corrent), which is a variant of "Ja, stimmt" (Yes, [your statement is] correct).

In other words: "Ja, genau" is an elliptical construction.

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I'm not convinced. I use "Genau" as an emphasis of "Ja", i.e. strong affirmation. –  Zane Apr 3 at 14:44

Both words are standard German, but I think "genau" is used more often in small talk. As Jan says in his comment, if you're on the receiving end of a discission, it is quite sufficient to say "genau" at the appropriate points. To me, "stimmt" would sound less natural in this context (but that might indeed be a regional thing). For me, "stimmt" is connected with a little more thinking: If I agree without having to think, I say "genau" (or "ja, genau"), if I hesitate before agreeing, I say a little more thoughful "stimmt" (or "ja, stimmt").

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I don't know if there's a regional difference, but for me it is genau the other way around. People here use "genau" to mean "exactly", while "stimmt" means any kind of affirmation, up to "still listening". –  Zane Apr 3 at 14:41

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