- Sie zieht den Mantel und die Handschuhe aus.
- Er legt den Mantel ab.
What is the difference between these two words?
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"Ausziehen" und "ablegen" belong to different registers. While "ausziehen" is the everyday word for the act in concern, "ablegen" is antiquated or lofty language. Apart from that, "ablegen" rather refers to "surplus-clothing", so to say, clothes which you wear outside but not inside. Especially a coat.
In old German movies (or dubbed old American movies), for example, you may hear someone say "Möchten sie nicht ablegen?", when somebody else enters his/her house. Apart from literally being an invitation to get rid of the coat it is also a set phrase of welcoming hospitality.
Well, "ablegen" is something like "lay down" whereas "ausziehen" is like "pull off".
Regarding "Mantel", "ablegen" sounds more formal (but you can say both). However, it would be unusual to use "ablegen" with "Handschuhe". That would suggest that the person is not wearing the gloves anymore and is laying them down.
Ausziehen --> move out of something
Ablegen --> dispose of someting, put something down
Generally you "ablegen" einen Mantel but you generally don't "ablegen" Handschuhe.
Since in the first sentence she is getting rid of two items at once the whole process is called ausziehen. In English: Taking off ones clothes.
So the difference is:
a) Multiple clothes to take off: ausziehen
b) Mantel or Jacket to get out of: ablegen
Since few people these days actually wear coats the use of ablegen in this context has declined.
"Ausziehen" here¹ means either
Examples of things you don't use "ausziehen" with: glasses, hats, jewelry, weapons, etc -- items that are more apparel than clothing. Here you use "ablegen" or "abziehen"; "abnehmen" can be used as a synonym of "abziehen".
Some words are definitely used with both varians, e.g. "Mütze".
You use "zieht aus" for stuff that the person is wearing. So if he did not pull it on before he can not "zieht es aus".
You use "legt ab" for stuff that you are carrying. To the "Mantel" has probably been over his arm before he ihn abgelegt hat. You can also use "legt ab" for boxes, parcels, bags and the like.