German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We can see that both, "erheblich", and "nicht unerheblich" are used in the meaning of e.g. "considerable, extensive, remarkable".

Branchengerüchten zufolge können die Besucherzahlen dank des Knopfes um bis zu das Sechsfache steigen. Und selbst große Seiten profitieren davon nicht unerheblich.Die Zeit

Seit dem Wochenende ist bekannt, dass Landesbehörden für die Überwachung digitaler Kommunikation zwischen Verdächtigen höchst umstrittene Software verwenden: Sie kann erheblich in die Grundrechte der Betroffenen eingreifen, ohne dass dies rechtlich gedeckt ist.Die Zeit

Is there a different nuance in meaning? When do we use one or the other?

share|improve this question
M.E. muss es - Zeit hin oder her - um bis auf das Sechsfache steigen oder um bis um das Sechsfache steigen, aber nicht um bis zu das Sechsfache - um bis zu dem Sechsfachen oder um bis zum Sechsfachen wäre wieder in Ordnung. – user unknown Feb 28 '12 at 13:11
No, it's not related. But I don't like to see bad language uncommented here. – user unknown Feb 28 '12 at 13:29
up vote 9 down vote accepted

A phrase of the type "nicht unerheblich" is called a Litotes. It is a rhetorical figure.

Both phrases mean the same. It is also true for both, "erheblich" and "nicht unerheblich", that the degree to which the statement being made applies varies with how it is made. Much depends on prosody and facial expression.

Be aware that using "nicht unerheblich" might introduce structural ambiguity:

Sie kann [nicht unerheblich] in die Grundrechte der Betroffenen eingreifen.

Sie [kann nicht] [unerheblich in die Grundrechte der Betroffenen eingreifen].

share|improve this answer

We use the same rhetorical device in English: you can say:

It is not impossible for man to fly.

rather than

It is possible for man to fly.

They have the same meaning, but the former is "denying the negation," rather than supporting the original claim directly.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.