I am writing an article about commuting. So far the words I have found are more related to the word "commute" in a scientific context:

pendeln , umwandeln, and verwandeln

Which makes me asks if there is not a direct translation for this word into German.

But if I use the word German word Reise it seems to indicate more of pleasure travel. But I am wondering if this verb can be used to describe your daily travel to work from your house to your workplace?

  • 4
    commute (intransitive): pendeln; commute (transitive): umwandeln/verwandeln (= change something into something else). Mar 16, 2014 at 16:47

4 Answers 4


Pendeln is the only word to use. The other ones are not related to this content.
A commuter translates to Pendler. So pendeln is the direct translation, although it can have a different meaning in another content.

  • Pendeln literally means "to swing back and forth like a pendulum" (between home and workplace in this case). I don't think there is a word describing one way of the commute, as in "I was on my commute this morning".
    – fzwo
    Mar 17, 2014 at 9:42
  • @fzwo I think that's what English 'communiting' is supposed to mean. The alternative to 'commuting' would be 'travelling'.
    – user1690
    Mar 17, 2014 at 10:18
  • Well, I am German. I can guarantee you, that the word pendeln is the one "used" for that (see 2.). But also it is that "common" that you have it here.
    – loveNoHate
    Mar 17, 2014 at 18:40

Sometimes a dictionary not providing enough context for resolving the appropriate translation will reveal the correct term when searching for the nominalized form.

For to commute this will be commuting or commuter which will give you:

commuting: das Pendeln, der Pendelverkehr, der Berufsverkehr
commuter: Pendler, Berufspendler.

So the obvious correct verb for to commute to work is pendeln


The Oxford English Dictionary gives three meanings for to commute. The one that we are interested in is the first one, but let us first consider the other two.

  • Reduce (a judicial sentence, especially a sentence of death) to another less severe one.

    The German word here is umwandeln.

  • Mathematics (Of two operations or quantities) have a commutative relation.

    The German word here is vertauschen.

The first one:

  • Travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis.

    The German word is pendeln, however that implies going forth and back (pendeln is the movement of a pendulum). There is no simple German word which describes a single trip to or from work.


"Reise" sagt man bei längeren Strecken oder wenn man am Zielort übernachtet. Eine Reise kann (aber muss nicht) Vergnügen sein: eine Urlaubsreise oder Geschäftsreise.

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