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I thought both of them mean the same – to stay overnight. Which to use in which case?

  1. das Übernachten
  2. die Übernachtung
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What's your mother-tongue? Perhaps this is a feature which occur in your language as well. It's like in English: to read => the reading - to write => the writing. You have a verb and make it a noun. Hence; verb: übernachten - Noun: das Übernachten. –  Em1 Jul 15 '13 at 13:58
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Übernachtung is usually the noun you are looking for, and way more common. It often refers to the accommodation where you stay overnight as well (Übernachtung in einem Hotel):

Wir brauchen ein Hotel für die nächste Übernachtung.

You will just get das Übernachten when reformulating sentences with the verb übernachten:

Es ist verboten, hier zu übernachten. => Übernachten verboten!

Es hat mir gefallen, bei dir zu übernachten. => Das Übernachten bei dir war schön.

Als wir übernachtet haben, passierte etwas. => Beim Übernachten passierte etwas.

This is a style of writing German which you can avoid by using the verb.

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