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When do you use zu and als ?

Die Relativpronomen werden zur Bezeichnung entweder feminin, maskulin verwendet, oder neutrum.

Can I use als instead of zu in this context ?

Here's another example :

Dieses Auto hier ist zum Fahren


Dieses Auto hier ist für das Fahren.

In this context one cannot use als

Are there rules when to use als and zu ?

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Als Kommunikationsmittel zum Kommunizieren – Em1 Dec 29 '13 at 3:04
Nicht ' als Kommunizierung' ? – DerPolyglott33 Dec 29 '13 at 3:21
Nein, weil es das Wort "Kommunizierung" nicht gibt. Das heist "Kommunikation". "Kommunizieren" ist das zugehörige Verb. – PMF Dec 29 '13 at 10:32

2 Answers 2

Kommunizierung is in any case incorrect, Kommunikation being the form you would be looking for. Kommunizieren is regarded as a 'little less incorrect', but it is not good German.

Das Internet wird für die Kommunikation verwendet.

Als specifically denotes a relationship in which something is used as something else. For instance,

Manchmal benutze ich ein Buch als Hammer.

...meaning that sometimes, I use a book as a hammer. In other words, the hammer is not the ultimate function but the kind of tool into which I have turned the book.

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Als (in that use) means in function/role of. Hence it is feasable for nouns.

Als Lehrer/Hammer/Bezeichung/Blumenvase...

Zu (in that use) for the doing. It works for actions that are phrased as the generic noun that is like das Verben.

Zum Arbeiten/Schlafen/Kommunizieren...

Kommunikation is a thing. Das Kommunizieren is an activity that is just made a noun grammatically.

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