Wortauswahl - Choosing the best word out of a list of alternatives.

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19
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the difference in usage between “machen” and “tun”?

Is there any rules or guidelines when to use which one? Du darfst mir nicht sagen, was ich machen soll. or Du darfst mir nicht sagen, was ich tun soll. I find a big overlap in their usage: ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Differences between “Klausur”, “Prüfung” and “Examen”

Is there any differences in usage between Klausur, Prüfung, Examen, Test*, and (Klassen)arbeit*? * Edit: added more synonyms based on answers below.
20
votes
5answers
4k views

How to distinguish between a female friend and a girlfriend?

The word Freundin can mean either a girlfriend or a female friend. In some cases, they can be distinguished by using the possessive pronoun to refer to the former: Ich habe mit meiner Freundin ...
6
votes
3answers
841 views

Word meaning 'to use' - verwenden, anwenden, benutzen, nutzen, gebrauchen

I understand 5 words to roughly mean 'to use': verwenden anwenden benutzen nutzen gebrauchen When is one of these prefered to the others? I think that 'benutzen' is the most commonly used of ...
29
votes
10answers
16k views

Why is “Fräulein” considered offensive, as opposed to “Frau”?

Does Fräulein imply that the woman being addressed is not fully a Frau? Does it imply a lower class status?
8
votes
4answers
1k views

“wenn” vs “falls”

When should "falls" be preferred to "wenn" in expressing conditional sentences? Also, are the cases in which the use of "falls" (or of "wenn") to translate "if" is unidiomatic or a mistake?
12
votes
1answer
776 views

Redewendung wenn man an ein fremdes Telefon gehen muss

Im Arbeitsumfeld gibt es üblicherweise mehr oder minder festgelegte Formulierungen die man benutzt, etwas in der Art von Firma Meier, Michael Müller, Apparat von Peter Schmitz hört man öfter. Im ...
10
votes
4answers
631 views

What are “Marmelade”, “Konfitüre”, or “Fruchtaufstrich”?

Living in Germany I almost exclusively hear "Marmelade" for any spread made of fruits including "Erdbeermarmelade", "Himbeermarmelade", "Aprikosenmarmelade" and so on. Only rarely I also hear ...
8
votes
3answers
206 views

Which spelling is the right one: “deinstallieren” or “desinstallieren”?

Some computer software uninstallers that are localized for German users use the word "deinstallieren" and others "desinstallieren". Which one is the correct one - or are both words right? -- Update ...
1
vote
3answers
74 views

“hören” or “anhören” for listening to opera

"Wollen wir uns die Oper zusammen ___?" a) hören b) anhören From this dictionary, anhören is used for concerts, while hören is used for singers. So, does both work here, or only ...
16
votes
12answers
92k views

What are informal ways to say “good bye”?

In German you may say Auf Wiedersehen or Guten Tag when leaving. Both seem rather formal and may be inappropriate in a non-formal context. What would be the alternatives? In what context can we use ...
6
votes
2answers
579 views

How do we define the strength of coffee?

Coffee is the most consumed drink in Germany. No wonder it comes in a huge variety of flavours. However the list of coffee specialities does not say much on the strength of the brew. I heard of ...
10
votes
3answers
899 views

Is there a difference between “anschalten” and “einschalten”

Is there a difference between anschalten and einschalten? If I turn on the TV, oven, heat, start the car etc., can either verb be used?
9
votes
4answers
234 views

Welche Bedeutungen kann das Adjektiv “günstig” haben?

Welche Bedeutungen kann das Adjektiv günstig haben? Wie steht günstig zu billig?
8
votes
3answers
9k views

Singular/Plural bei Aufzählungen

Man betrachte folgende zwei Sätze: Demnach muss nun das Ziel und der Zweck der Regelung ermittelt werden. oder Demnach müssen nun das Ziel und der Zweck der Regelung ermittelt werden. ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

“ist” oder “sind” bei Aufzählungen

Üblicherweise verwendet man bei Aufzählungen den Plural. In konkreten Fällen kann sich das aber schon einmal komisch anhören. Beispiel: Folglich sind in Abbildung 1 ein Subsystem und in Abbildung ...
5
votes
4answers
626 views

Using “nötig” vs “notwendig”

What is the difference between "nötig" and "notwendig"? When would one be preferred over the other, or are they always interchangeable?
4
votes
2answers
954 views

What are the differences between “jein” and “naja”?

After reading this related post, I started wondering: what are the differences between jein and naja? I am especially interested in any context(s) where only one of them would be correct or ...
3
votes
2answers
167 views

Difference between “bis auf”, “bisher”, and “bis zu”?

My understanding is that they all mean "up to." But could they mean "up to in different contexts, some in time, for instance, and other with regards to space?
3
votes
3answers
280 views

Is There Another Way to (Poetically) Say “Sie ist schön?”

In one of my translations, I used: "[Deine Mutter] hat Schönheit. The original is a line in Gershwin's Summertime. My translation was: Sommerzeit, und das Leben ist leicht. Fische beissen, wenn ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

When should you use “erst” rather than “nur”?

It seems that in many situations where I might use the word "only" in English, either "nur" or "erst" is used in German. I have the rather fuzzy idea that "erst" is used for "only" in the sense of ...
10
votes
4answers
444 views

Selbst oder selber?

Sind folgende Sätze beide richtig? a) Das haben Sie doch selber gesagt! b) Das haben Sie doch selbst gesagt! Wenn ja, gibt es dann einen Unterschied zwischen ihnen?
9
votes
1answer
276 views

Is there a difference between “Messer” and “Kniff?”

The word I was taught for "knife" is "Messer". But someone, who appears to be a native speaker, answered a question to the effect that "Kniff" looked like its English counterpart "knife". Certain ...
9
votes
2answers
214 views

Why is “erstmal” not recognized by my spellchecker and is “erstmals” correct?

I typed the following sentence in an E-Mail in Thunderbird: Muss man sich erstmal einloggen? The German spellchecker said "erstmal" is not a word and suggested that it be replaced with ...
7
votes
3answers
344 views

“used to [verb]”

How would one say "used to", as in I used to live in Kiev. Previously, I was told you would use früher: Früher lebte ich in Kiew. But upon looking it up just again, dict.cc says you'd use ...
7
votes
2answers
568 views

Der/die/das as demonstrative pronouns: intonation, politeness and difference with dieser/diese/dieses

Three related questions: First, I'm interested in knowing if there is any difference in the usage of der, die, das,... and dieser, diese, dieses,.... For instance z.B. Ich habe zwei Hunde. {Der ...
7
votes
3answers
376 views

What is the difference between “zurzeit” and “zur Zeit”?

Word's spellchecker often suggest that I write "zur Zeit" where I would naturally write "zurzeit". Is my understanding correct, that the meaning is always: zur Zeit = at some time in the past (zur ...
7
votes
3answers
170 views

Gibt es ein deutsches Pendant zur englischen Wendung «writ large»?

In der englischen Sprache gibt es die Wendung «writ large», die normalerweise so benutzt wird: Switzerland is a democracy writ large. oder The State is the organization of robbery writ ...
7
votes
2answers
474 views

What is the difference between 'noch' and 'noch immer'?

They would both appear to mean the same thing in English i.e. 'still' How do they differ and under what circumstances might you use either of them?
6
votes
4answers
315 views

What's a good translation for “outcome measures”?

For example in the sentence: Outcome measures for this study include three-year-survival rate and relapse.
4
votes
1answer
111 views

Idiomatic translation for “In sum and substance?”

Google translate gives me "In Summe und die Substanz?' But is there a better, more idiomatic translation? And is that "better" translation "im großen und ganzen?" (This more literally back ...
4
votes
3answers
230 views

“von Englisch nach Deutsch” - why not “zu”?

Following the About.com article on zu vs nach, I would guess that "from English to German" would be von Englisch zum Deutsch, but Google Translate uses nach when trying to say 'to a language'. So it ...
4
votes
2answers
301 views

What is the difference between “schätzen” and “abschätzen”?

The following to sentenses have different meanings Er schätzt sie. Er schätzt sie ab. But looking at Er schätzt die zurückgelegte Strecke auf 5 Kilometer. and Er schätzt, dass er ...
3
votes
2answers
174 views

Wörter mit selber Bedeutung, aber unterschiedlichen Artikeln

Mir ist heute beim Spazierengehen aufgefallen, dass die Wörter die Geldbörse, das Portemonnaie und der Geldbeutel die gleiche Bedeutung, aber unterschiedliche Artikel haben – was ich irgendwie ...
3
votes
2answers
229 views

Weniger informeller Ausdruck für “weg-abstrahieren”?

Der Satz A und B sind gute Ansätze, welche aber die Eigenschaft E von der Problemstellung P wegabstrahieren. kommt mir sehr umgangssprachlich vor. Ich würde aber gerne diese Bedeutung mit einer ...
2
votes
2answers
275 views

Some - How to say some?

I have not been able to find a definitive answer on using "some" in German. I've seen, irgend- words, etwas (Which I have come to know as something or some + an adjective: z.B. Dieses Kurs ist etwas ...
2
votes
2answers
77 views

“a _ used for _” structure in German

Is there a standard way to translate phrases like "a _ used for _". Example: I'm trying to define 'Ohr' in German as "organ used for hearing". Based on what I've read, I've come up with a few ...
0
votes
1answer
354 views

Genitive preposition “wegen” and personal pronouns

I am wondering how to correctly form a genitive construction in German while translating a sentence from English to German. For example: English: It is broken because of you. German: Es ...