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There are many nouns that describe an event, occation, or happenings

They all can be translated to either;
* der Anlass
* das Geschehen
* das Geschehnis
* das Ereignis
* die Veranstaltung

How do I know which one I should choose?

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1  
You forgot "Event". :) In fact, "Eventmanager" is a profession. –  Ingo Jan 11 at 12:55
    
Any good dictionary should help you to choose the appropriate translation for a given context: de.pons.eu/… –  Takkat Jan 11 at 13:51
    
It really depends on the context, like for all words that might be translated in different ways. –  PMF Jan 11 at 14:38

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Der Anlass

Literally this is "the reason" (for an event), not the event itself.

Example: At the party the project's leader says:

Der Anlass für unser Treffen ist die Fertigstellung des Projekts. Das wollen wir jetzt feiern!

Translation: "The Reason for out meeting is the completion of the project. This is what we want to celebate now."


Das Geschehen

Literally this is "the happening".

Erwin war nur zufällig im selben Lokal. Von seinem Platz an der Bar aus beobachtete der das Geschehen.

Translation "Erwin was in the restaurant by accident. From his place at the bar he watched the event."


Das Geschehnis

This is bad German, nobody uses this word. Forget it. Use »das Geschehen« instead.


Das Ereignis

This is, what best matches to "the event". It can be a planned event or an event that happens by accident.

planned

Die Nasa plant morgen eine Rakete zu zünden. Ich habe mir dieses Ereignis schon im Kalender eingetragen.

Translation: "Nasa is panning to ignite a rocket tomorrow. I already noted this event in my calendar.

accidentally

Das Ereignis das den Tsunami ausgelöst hat war ein Erbeben.

Translation: "The event that triggered the tsunami was an earthquake."


Die Veranstaltung

This is a planned event that must be prepared and where people meet. This can be a music-gig, a party, a play in a theater, a political demonstration or something similar.

Zu der Veranstaltung in der Veranstaltungshalle werden 80.000 Besucher erwartet.

Translation: "80.000 visitors are expected to the event in the banquet hall."


Das Event

Der Event

(can be used in both forms: maskulin and neuter; both have the same meaning)

We use the english word "Event" as a foreign word in german sentences. (In German kontext you must use uppercase letter for the first letter because it is a noun.) But the meaning is not exactly the same as the english original. The english original fits best to »das Ereignis«, not to »das Event«!

We use »das Event« more as a synonym to »die Veranstaltung«.

So you can say this in German:

Zu dem Event in der großen Halle kamen nur 50.000 Besucher.
In einer Woche wird das neue Einkaufszentrum eröffnet. Dieses Event will ich nicht versäumen.

Translations: "Only 50.000 Visitors came to the event in the big hall."
"The new shopping-center will be opened in one week. I won't miss this event."

But this is a wrong usage of »das Event«:

Das Event, das den Mann tötete, war die Explosion einer Bombe.  

Use »das Ereignis« instead:

Das Ereignis, das den Mann tötete, war die Explosion einer Bombe.

Translation: "The event, that killed the man was the explosion of a bomb."

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Just thought I'd add this: One other usage of event is in the theory of relativity. There the German equivalent is also "Ereignis", e.g. event horizon is "Ereignishorizont" in German. –  fifaltra Jan 11 at 17:40
    
Like so often, it looks like "event" came to us through marketing activities. You know, a "Fahrkartenschalter" sounds shabby and boring, hence we better go to a "Reisecenter". Likewise, a "Veranstaltung" is not something cool people go to, you can attrackt them better when you announce an "Event" (which has a connotation of "thrilling"). –  Ingo Jan 12 at 1:21

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