Recently I came across some examples of installing/building objects in a city.

die Regierung will einen großen Spielplatz anlegen

die Regierung will eine Fußgängerzone einrichten

die Regierung will mehr Straßenlampen aufstellen

I think I understand why the word "aufstellen" has been used - in the sense of erecting something that stands upright. And I can imagine I would use the word "anlegen" for maybe laying down cables/piping? (Correct me if I'm wrong) But then in Pons, an example for "anlegen" was in regards to putting a ladder up agains the wall. Confusing.

All in all, is there a general framework of the usage of the above words?

  • you are thinking of verlegen for cables and pipes. – stryba Oct 1 '14 at 13:38

Anlegen -> Something is created completely from scratches.

As every StackExchange user has done that with his account. In constructional context means, that the object, wich will be constructed, is embeddet on a low layer of environment. It does not, or only a little, attach to some other construction. The matter of other things in the environment is irrelevant.


Ein Garten wird angelegt.
Ich lege einen Teich an.
Der Landwirt legt eine neue Zufahrt zu seinem Hof an.

Einrichten can have two meanings in this context:

  1. The Fußgängerzone already exists and will be (re-)arranged.
  2. The Government will create the Fußgängerzone in an already existing higher layer of environment. It's a relevant fact, that there are Buildings, or something, wich are influenced or influence the Fußgängerzone.


Wenn ich umziehe, werde ich meine Wohnung mit neuen Möbeln einrichten.
Die Busgesellschaft wird neue Routen einrichten.

Aufstellen Your idea is not that wrong, but doesn't fit 100%. It's not about the size of the object, but about the how it is set up. Indeet, you can see aufstellen as a literal translation of "setting sth. up".


Die Gebäudeverwaltung wird neue Abfalleimer aufstellen.
Die Polizei stellt Radaranlagen auf um Raser zu schnappen.
  • Would I be right in then assuming that in most cases where something is "constructed/set up/installed" that one could possibly use "einrichten" for all? i.e could one for example also "einrichten" a new garden or a pond? or would that sound totally strange? – user5105 Oct 2 '14 at 19:49
  • In most of the cases everyone will understand what you want to say but it might sound strange. The prefix "ein-" means "into", so "einrichten" goes into an existing environment where the environment is not only a place where something happens, but a real factor due its nature. – jawo Feb 17 '15 at 8:50
  • One of the nicest attitudes of the german language is, that almost every term is puzzled by other terms. So by looking up prefix, suffix and the keyword itself, you should get a really good idea how the word is used. Grinding work if you want to check a lot of termini. – jawo Feb 17 '15 at 8:53

No, there is no general framework.

Most phrases are just used because they are common in this combination. So "Garten" is mostly used with "anlegen". "Zone" is mostly used with "einrichten" and "Straßenlampen" is mostly used with "aufstellen". "Leiter" is mostly used with "anlegen". It is correct German to say "Garten einrichten", "Straßenlampen anlegen", "Zone aufstellen", "Leiter aufstellen". But it would sound strange, because it is not common.

There is no general framework, but there is some kind of logic behind it:

This first syllable is a preposition and after that follows a verb. The preposition describes the position of the object relative to some other object. The other object must not be mentioned. It can be implied by the context.

  • Anlegen: next to something, e.g. lay out a garden next to a street
  • Einrichten: inside of something, e.g. arrange a pedestrian zone inside the city
  • Aufstellen: on top of something, e.g. raise a lantern on top of the ground

The verb after the first syllable describes the change of the orientation of the object (relative to the other object)

  • Anlegen: The object is lying next to something after the action
  • Einrichten: The object is arranged inside something after the action
  • Aufstellen: The object is standing on top of something after the action

But do not think, that you can use this logic easily. You can construct new verbs with this logic, but it does not tell you the context in which they are commonly used.

Here are some example verbs with example context:

  • einlegen: e.g. to lay meat into oil
  • anrichten: e.g. to prepare a meal
  • einstellen: e.g. to hire someone
  • auflegen: e.g. to hang up the phone
  • aufrichten: e.g. to raise something, that was tipped

Most of these verbs have multiple different meanings. German depends a lot on the context, particularly the verbs.

Try to memorize the common phrases a a whole and not just the verbs.


I totally agree with Sempie, just wanted to add a 'second meaning' of anlegen as in "Eine Leiter anlegen" because this is used in many different contexts and can be a bit confusing:

I think the 'second meaning' is more literal than what Sempie already mentioned. It really focusses on the "legen" (=lying) whereas the first part "an-" says something about the direction or position. Examples:

  • "Einen Fallschirm anlegen" = "Putting on a parachute"
  • "Eine Platte auflegen" = "To put on a record" (laying something on something else)
  • "Die Region ist einem Wandel unterlegen" = "The region is underlying / undergoing a change"

So the example of the ladder is a bit misleading, since it rather belongs in this group of 'second meanings' instead of the group of 'installing' something. I hope, this helps to clear things a bit.

  • "anlegen" can also be used in the context of "Geld anlegen" and then means to invest money. Same goes for the noun. Both "Geldanlage" and "Gartenanlage" can be called just "Anlage" if the context is clear. – Sumyrda - remember Monica Oct 2 '14 at 4:39

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