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Kann jemand den Unterschied zwischen den beiden kurz erklären?
Sagt man "Das Auto dreht" oder "Das Auto dreht sich". Gibt es einen Unterschied?

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Ein Windrad dreht sich; man wendet Pfannkuchen. – Raphael Jun 10 '14 at 7:58

Drehen means to turn, to rotate, to revolve. Umdrehen means to turn around, also to reverse or to flip something.

Does the car simply make a U-turn?

Das Auto wendet.

Is it skidding and the driver has lost control?

Das Auto dreht sich (um die eigene Achse).

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Und "Das Auto dreht um"? Hat das dieselbe Bedeutung als "Das Auto wendet"? – user7551 Jun 10 '14 at 6:23
Yes, although the register is slightly lower, i.e. more colloquial. "Umdrehen" can also be used in a more general manner when it means to return, to abort, much like umkehren. – Ingmar Jun 10 '14 at 7:23
"Hat das die selbe Bedeutung wie ...", nicht als. – user unknown Jun 11 '14 at 6:34

"drehen" is just a generic "to rotate something". Note that in German you cannot just "drehen". You always need something you're rotating, either something else or yourself.

Ich drehe den Knopf/mich.

"Umdrehen", is more specific. The "um" pretty much implies a 180° rotation so "umdrehen" is "to turn around". It can mean that you turn your head to look behind you, it can mean that you turn your hand upside down or it can mean that you have to go back home because you forgot your plane ticket on the desk.
In contrast to "drehen" "umdrehen" can be used alone.

Ich drehe um.

Ich drehe mich um.

Ich drehe mein Buch um.

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Actually, you can use drehen on its own, although it's a bit of a specialist case. What does a Dreher (lathe operator) do all day? That's right: drehen. – Ingmar Jun 10 '14 at 9:16
@Ingmar... what is a Dreher ? :) – Emanuel Jun 10 '14 at 9:17
I think the modern term is Zerspanungsmechaniker. (Can't make this stuff up.) Either way, the procedure is called Turning in English, I think: – Ingmar Jun 10 '14 at 9:19
you nailed it ... what's the difference between "ich drehe um" and "ich drehe mich um" – user7551 Jun 10 '14 at 9:49
duplicate..pls remove – user7551 Jun 10 '14 at 9:49

"drehen" = at any arbitrary angle (in any which direction) "umdrehen" = at exactly 180° (flipped side)

Sie drehte die Spielkarte auf dem Tisch. - She rotated the playing card on the table. Sie drehte die Spielkarte auf dem Tisch um. - She flipped the playing card on the table over.

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That applies that the following is correct."Das Kind dreht sich vom Bauch auf den Rücken um". However I am pretty sure that I have heard/found the versions without "um", although it's exactly 180° – user7551 Jun 10 '14 at 23:26

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