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

Could somebody please explain to me, the difference between the verbs "spüren" and "fühlen"? I know they both mean to feel, but do they both have different connotations? My initial feeling was that one is more physical and the other more emotional/mental/non-physical... however I am unable to say which suits which.

share|improve this question
up vote 18 down vote accepted

"Spüren" is related to sensory perception. Thus you can use it for sentences like

I can feel the heat. (Ich spüre die Hitze.)
I can't feel my legs. (Ich spüre meine Beine nicht.)
I can feel the motion of the sea. (Ich spüre den Seegang.)

"Fühlen" can be used in this sense too, so you can take each of the above sentences and replace "spüren" with "fühlen" without changing their meaning. But in addition to that "fühlen" can also refer to moods and emotions, which "spüren" can't:

I feel attracted to him. (Ich fühle mich zu ihm hingezogen.)
I feel good. (I fühle mich gut.)
I feel guilty. (Ich fühle mich schuldig.)

You cannot replace "fühlen" with "spüren" in these sentences.

share|improve this answer
Yes. It much resembles "sensing" and "feeling". – Ludi Jun 2 '15 at 20:53


  • Physical or mental perception

    Ich spüre einen Schmerz.

  • Craving, jonesing

    Ich spüre ein Verlangen nach Pommes.

  • Instinctive perception

    Ich spürte, dass er noch etwas im Schilde führte.

Translations: to feel, to sense, to notice, to perceive


  • Physical or mental perception

    Ich fühle einen erheblichen Druck auf mir liegen.
    Ich fühle seinen Puls nicht mehr.

  • Sensation

    Ich fühle mich heute hervorragend.
    Ich fühle mich besser.

  • Self-estimation

    Ich fühle mich als Direktor berufen.
    Wie fühlst du dich jetzt als Direktor?

  • Pride

    Er fühlte sich als wichtigster Mann auf dem Platz.

Translations: to feel, to regard, to consider, to think

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.