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I'm learning German and we've just looked into the topic "Wohnung", including numbering floors in a building.

For example, let's imagine a house:

 | dritter Stock, Dachgeschoss |
 | zweiter Stock               |
 | erster Stock                |
 | Erdgeschoss                 |     

The teacher said that it will be a "dreistöckiges Haus" (because of maximum floor is "dritter"). However, when I tried searching the Internet and the German Wikipedia I found that such thing is called "vierstöckiges Haus". Logical, because there are four floors (including the ground floor).

So what is correct then? Are there any special details (e.g. is the ground floor a dwelling or not) about how to call each floor and the whole building?

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Wenn, dann kann man wohl über die Zählung des Dachgeschosses streiten. In Ballungsgebieten wird heute oft das Dach zum Wohngeschoss ausgebaut - für den Vermieter sind es dann 4 Stockwerke, die er vermietet. Für den Architekten bleiben es aber vielleicht weiterhin 3 Stockwerke + Dachgeschoß? Ich bin aber weder im Vermietergeschäft, noch Architekt. –  user unknown Dec 12 '12 at 6:46
Es gibt den wenig gebräuchlichen Begriff "Dachstock" und zur allgemeinen Verwirrung kennen wir auch noch ein "Untergeschoss". Schöne Frage! –  Takkat Dec 12 '12 at 7:31

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Let me illustrate the several wording possibilities of the same German house here:

Dachstock       Dachgeschoss  Dachgeschoss     Dachboden  Mansarde      Fahrstuhl
3. Stock[werk]  4. Geschoss   3. Obergeschoss  3. Etage   4. Etage       3
2. Stock[werk]  3. Geschoss   2. Obergeschoss  2. Etage   3. Etage       2
1. Stock[werk]  2. Geschoss   1. Obergeschoss  1. Etage   2. Etage       1
Erdgeschoss     1. Geschoss   Erdgeschoss      Parterre   1. Etage       E/0
Keller          Untergeschoss Untergeschoss    Souterrain Tiefparterre   -1/U/U1
                    2. Untergeschoss                                     -2/U2
                    3. Untergeschoss                                     -3/U3

You can easily see that there is no fixed rule. In addition the terms used may also be mixed.

When it comes to the numbering of "Geschoss", or "Etage" differences are regional. In colloquial speech people tend to also count the "Dachgeschoss" when there are both, an apartement, and a staircase to climb:

"Die Müllers müssen immer zu Fuß bis in den vierten Stock."

This is different for a "Maisonette-Wohnung" where the entrance will be second to the top floor and the top floor is accessible from a stair inside the apartment only.

To make sure you are talking about the right floor it is recommended to word it using the "Erdgeschoss/Obergeschoss/Dachgeschoss"-terminology as only then it is unequivocal what we are talking about. An "Obergeschoss" never is an "Erdgeschoss".

Regarding the top floor terminolgy there is some overlap in that we could say "Dachgeschoss" for both, the attic, and an appartement there. But this is not interchangeable for "Dachboden", which exclusively is an attic, and a "Mansarde[n-wohnung]" which always is an appartment in the top floor.

Similarly, we would not use the term "Keller" for an appartment located in the "Souterrain", "Untergeschoss", or "Tiefparterre".

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Careful, not all of these are real synonyms: As I understand it, "Dachboden" also implies that the top floor is not used as living space but as an attic for storage. "Mansarde", on the other hand, usually means living space under the roof. "Tiefparterre", like "Hochparterre" means that this floor is kind of "around ground level", sort of halfway between the cellar and ground floor (Tiefparterre) or halfway between ground floor and second floor (Hochparterre). Both occur in houses where you have to climb some steps from the street to reach the front door. –  Mac Dec 12 '12 at 16:21
Takkat, We were told that "Dachgeschoss" is just a last floor (not some inferior non-living attic). Is it true or "Dachgeschoss" is not usually used for the floor similar to the rest ones which just happens to be the upmost? –  Vi. Dec 12 '12 at 19:01
@Mac es ist recht kompliziert, denn es gibt auch noch das halbunterkellerte Haus, eine Einliegerwohnung im Untergeschoss, die direkt an den Keller angrenzt und die Maisonettewohnung im Parterre und im Tiefparterre (gerne auch als "Haus im Haus" vermakelt). Einzig das "Tiefgeschoss" wird wohl nicht als Wohnraum genutzt. ;) –  Takkat Dec 12 '12 at 20:28
Lol, halbunterkellert war mir neu - sehr schön! :) –  Mac Dec 13 '12 at 8:11
Zum Fahrstuhl: ich habe viele Jahre in einem Hochhaus in Berlin gewohnt mit einem Erdgeschoss und 17 darüberliegenden Stockwerken. Der Fahrstuhl war von 1 bis 18 nummeriert, wobei 1 dem Erdgeschoss entsprach. (Nebenbei: wir hatten früher noch einen Speicher, aber das mag süddeutsch sein...) –  cgnieder Dec 20 '12 at 19:15

It depends on the definition of "Stock" or "Stockwerk" you are using:

Originally, a "Stockwerk" was an upper floor that sits on top of the lower floor without sharing a frame with lower floors ("Stockwerkbauweise"), often jettied. The alternative were "Geschoss" which used a common timber frame for multiple levels ("Ständerbauweise"). This usage is no longer common.

Consequently, "Stockwerk" can mean any floor above the ground floor. A synonym would be "Obergeschoss". The "Erdgeschoss" would not be a "Stockwerk". So a building consisting of "Erdgeschoss" and "1. Stock" to "3. Stock" would be considered "dreistöckig".

However, "Stockwerk" can simply mean floor (except floors below the ground). A synonym would be "Etage" or "Geschoss". The "Erdgeschoss" now is a "Stockwerk". The same building would now be considered "vierstöckig".

Furthermore, you could also argue, as in the other answers, that the "Dachgeschoss" is not a full floor and does not count.

So the building described could be labelled as "zweistöckig" (excluding the Erdgeschoss and the "Dachgeschoss"), "dreistöckig" (excluding the "Erdgeschoss" or the "Dachgeschoss") or "vierstöckig" (including both the "Erdgeschoss" and "Dachgeschoss").

Alternatively, you could label it as "dreigeschossig" (excluding the "Dachgeschoss") or "viergeschossig" (including the "Dachgeschoss").

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So, these things are not consistent, and when you only see "N-stöckig" you can't be sure what it actually is. /* I am used to see simple block-of-flats houses with all floors almost equal (called just "first, second" and so on), so these things are simple: just count windows vertically and you got the number of floors */ –  Vi. Dec 16 '12 at 22:46

Usually the loft is not counted as a floor. The right word here is "Vollgeschoss" to count by. Therefore the loft would only be counted, if it's area with 2,3m headroom is larger than 2/3 of the floor below it. So the type of roof can make the difference. When talking about small detached houses you often see the specification "1,5 Geschoss" which means one floor + a loft. So usually "dreistöckiges Haus" is correct, but it would be Erdgeschoss, erster + zweiter Stock.


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Streng genommen zählt das Dachgeschoss nicht mehr zu den Stockwerken.
Umgangssprachlich dürfte es aber durchaus Verwendung finden. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschoss_(Architektur).
Bei der Zählung der Stockwerke wird das Erdgeschoss mitgezählt: Das Haus hat drei Stockwerke (= Erdgeschoss + 2 obere Stockwerke)
Das ganze könnte also so aussehen.

 | Speicher nicht genutzt      |
 | zweiter Stock               |
 | erster Stock                |
 | Erdgeschoss                 |   


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Usually it is one more than "Stöcke". If there is a "dritter Stock" (like: a lift goes up there or there's a proper stair case), then the house is "vierstöckig" (Erdgeschoss + 3 Stöcke).

The topmost "Stock" is hard to determine. For example, if you can live in it (for example, there are bedrooms), then it counts as a "Stock". If it is just for storage (for example just reachable by a small staircase, no heating, etc), then it doesn't count as a "Stock".

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