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Du gehst einkaufen und du hast wenig Geld. Ich kenne drei Wörter, die du für cheap Waren und/oder Geschäfte du benutzen könnest.

  1. billig
  2. preiswert
  3. günstig

Welchen Unterschied gibt es hier?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Main meaning

  • billig sein or billig as an attribute to a noun usually means low price but can also mean low quality. As an adverbial to verbs, it usually has either of the meanings:

Das Kleid ist billig. → low price or low quality

das billige Kleid → low price or low quality

Ich habe das Kleid billig eingekauft. → low price

Das Kleid sieht billig aus. → low quality (or low style in this case)

  • preiswert and günstig mean low price or can be used as euphemisms for billig.

Connotations

Even if billig means a low price, it often carries the connotation of low quality.

preiswert and günstig carry the connotation of without loss of quality/value with respect to billig. Such, they can be used to characterize a good value to price ratio, but this is rather done using the word Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis.

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billig means low price, but usually also low quality

preiswert means it is worth its price (this may be a low or high value, you usually use it for a higher value)

günstig means it's a good price for the quality

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These are old interpretations. Nowadays, preiswert and günstig usually just chararacterize a low price with a high value to price ratio characterized by Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis. –  Toscho Jan 17 at 16:42
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i don't think preiswert and günstig are the same - i disagree here. I don't use them that way and neither do most people i know.. –  christian.s Jan 17 at 16:44
    
Could you give an example showing the difference between preiswert and günstig? –  Toscho Jan 17 at 16:53
    
when i buy a tool that is much more expensive than another, but i know it is much better and more durable, the "other" one may be 'günstig', but i would say the more expensive one is 'preiswert' ( = it is 'den Mehrpreis wert') –  christian.s Jan 17 at 23:55
    
OK, do most people of the area you live in use preiswert that way or is it most people of the job you work in? –  Toscho Jan 18 at 9:06

For all my life, the antonym for "teuer" has been "billig". It is also used to indicate shit quality but it did by no means add that notion to everything.

Marketing fears it does though and so they refrain from using it in favor of the less negative sounding "günstig" and "preiswert". I do not agree with the other answer that there is a difference. They all signify "cheap" for the general public.

The constant bombardment with "günstig" and "preiswert" through adds does have an impact on which word people use in their daily life but at least in Berlin "billig" is BY FAR the most natural one. If someone avoids it, it always feels forced to me.

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Der Volksmund weiß: "Billig gekauft ist teuer bezahlt." –  Ingo Jan 18 at 10:13
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@Ingo: "Volksmund tut Bullshit kund" (altrömisches Sprichwort). Wenn irgendwo 2 Schraubenzieher liegen, ein solider für 8 Euro und ein klumperter für 2 Euro, dann will ich den sehen, der den teuren "preiswert" nennt. Ironisch betonen kann man alle 3 Begriffe. –  user unknown Jan 19 at 4:40

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