Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Worte and Wörter are both plurals of Wort.

Is there a difference in meaning between them?

share|improve this question
    
@MODS: Please consider "protecting" this Q. –  Eugene Seidel Mar 19 '13 at 10:54
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

When you can count the words and the number of words matters, „Wörter“ is the right choice. Otherwise choose „Worte“.

Examples:

  • „Deine netten Worte haben mir geholfen.“ – „Your kind words helped me.“ (number of words doesn’t matter)
  • „Der Aufsatz soll mindestens 500 Wörter umfassen.“ – „Write an essay with at least 500 words.“ (number of words is important)
share|improve this answer
2  
Or even simpler: if "Wort" means the unit of language than its plural is "Wörter" else "Worte" (or even without plural, i.e. a promise: "Ich gebe dir mein Wort") –  Em1 Mar 13 '13 at 21:46
1  
Lejonet8: This is the single best variation of the rule that I've heard so far - easy to remember and to apply. Kudos! –  Mac Mar 14 '13 at 9:09
add comment

The way I learned it was:

Wörter are just words that have nothing to do with each other.

Worte are words that are connected so that they transport a message.

It's pretty much the same as the other answers though.

share|improve this answer
    
“Word that have nothing to do with each other” isn’t always a good description for the use of Wörter: Take Mehrere Wörter bilden einen Satz. (Several words form a sentence.) A sentence consists of course of elements that are linked to each other. –  lejonet Mar 13 '13 at 22:39
    
True, do you have a suggestion how to say it differently? –  Emanuel Mar 14 '13 at 11:05
add comment

"Wörter" is the plural for Wort only. "Worte" can also mean speach, or meaning.

E.g.

Er sprach Worte des Bedauerns

He expressed his condolences.

You could not use "Wörter" in this context.

share|improve this answer
    
Es ist mir nicht ganz klar, was du ausdrücken möchtest. Kann man in allen anderen Fällen "Worte" und "Wörter" nach eigenem Geschmack verwenden? Ist "Worte" kein regulärer Plural, sondern hat nur eine begrenzte wohl definierte Bedeutung? –  Em1 Mar 13 '13 at 21:42
1  
@Em1 Nein, Wörter und Worte haben schon unterschiedliche Bedeutungen. Der Zwiebelfisch hat es ganz gut formuliert, was auch sonst: spiegel.de/kultur/zwiebelfisch/… –  Hackworth Mar 13 '13 at 21:53
add comment

I agree with what Emanuel was trying to say. If you are looking at the plural of each individual word, use "Wörter" (like the Wörter in a dictionary). If you're describing more than one word as a group or phrase or sentence together, use "Worte" (like the Worte he used to express his opinion).

share|improve this answer
add comment

I always think of Wörter as just being more than one word. Like talking about how many new words you have to learn. Whereas, I think of Worte as being more like a group of words together. Like if you give a few words at a funeral.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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.