I am trying to understand if there is any difference between the words Stock and Stockwerk. They are both translated as floor and I am never sure about which to choose. Do you know if there is any reason to prefer using one or the other? Is there any difference in the way or context they are used? What would be more commonly used to translate the following two sentences?

I live on the first floor.
This building has 5 floors.


4 Answers 4


Stock (floor) is a noun sometimes confusing even native Germans as it has 2 homographs in the meanings of stick, and stock (supply, inventory).

We can use both Stock, and Stockwerk as synonyms but there are peculiarities on inflection of Stock in the meaning of floor.

When building a plural it is only used with numbers but stills stays Stock (unlike Stöcke):

Unser Haus hat fünf Stock/Stockwerke.
Wir leben im dritten Stock/Stockwerk.

To overcome this, and when talking about plural forms without numerals is it recommended to use Stockwerk instead:

Unser Büro erstreckt sich über mehrere Stockwerke.

  • 5
    Hm, ich würde durchaus sagen "Unser Haus hat fünf Stöcke", aber "Unser Haus ist fünf Stock hoch". Im ersten Satz klingt "fünf Stock" sogar falsch für mich.
    – Em1
    Jan 12, 2015 at 13:12
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    @Em1: man kann das schon so machen und viele machen es sogar, aber es ist (zumindest heute noch) nicht korrekt. Der Plural von Stock ist Stock oder Stockwerke: "Du musst noch fünf Stock höher steigen".
    – Takkat
    Jan 12, 2015 at 14:04
  • 1
    @Chips_100 It's written without a hyphen: duden.de/rechtschreibung/fuenfstoeckig
    – ComFreek
    Jan 12, 2015 at 15:02
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    @Chips_100: No, fünfstöckig has nothing to do with the plural. The umlaut is there only because the word is an adjective derived from the noun. Just as in eintönig, for example, which is clearly also derived from the singular Ton not the plural Töne.
    – user2183
    Jan 13, 2015 at 0:12
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    When you derive an adjective from a noun, it sometimes gets an umlaut and sometimes not. It is very rare for an adjective to be derived from a plural. Eintönig is obviously not derived from a plural because it means monotone.
    – user2183
    Jan 13, 2015 at 15:26

When Stock is used in this sense, it has the irregular plural Stock. However, idiomatic selection between Stock and Stockwerk often prevents the plural of Stock from being used at all. (I have confirmed my intuition with Google's n-gram viewer -- as a statistical rule, not a strict one.)

  • In the plural, always use Stockwerke.
  • In the singular, use Stock when indicating or asking for the number defining an individual floor: "Im wievielten Stock wohnt Asterix? Asterix wohnt im ersten Stock."
  • In the singular, use Stockwerk in statements for which the position of the floor in question is not particularly relevant: "Das ganze Stockwerk ist von Römern besetzt."
  • Example of a borderline case: "In welchem Stock[werk] wohnen die Gallier?"

A synonym for Stock/Stockwerk that avoids the issue but may be considered slightly more formal (probably depending on the region): Etage.


I would say "Stock" is a short form of "Stockwerk". There might be differences in usage depending on the geographical region (i.e German in Germany or in Austria, which differs in some ways).

"Stockwerk" and "Stock" are (based on my experience) used both in writing. Would have to conduct statistical research to find out, which is more common. I'd say either one is fine.

The first floor is special:

I live on the first floor.

would be

Ich wohne im Erdgeschoss.


This building has 5 floors.

would be

Dieses Gebäude hat 5 Stockwerke.

  • 3
    Careful with the numbering! The standard in the German-speaking area puts the first floor above the ground floor. However, some regions traditionally referred to the ground floor as first floor, and this numbering persists in old public buildings. There is similar confusion in the English-speaking world, making this example extremely confusing to follow.
    – user2183
    Jan 12, 2015 at 16:46
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    I try to avoid this ambiguity when speaking German by using Erdgeschoss for the floor at ground level, erstes/zweites/... Obergeschoss for floors above that, and erstes/zweites/... Untergeschoss for floors below ground level. Jun 29, 2016 at 13:27

IMO the term "5 Stock" consists of a number and its unit; units are never pluralized in German language ! Would you talk about "5 Stöcke", that would make me think of 5 sticks somewhere, NOT of the level of a building. To this extend, STOCK is a unit of a fixed meaning whereas Stockwerk/-e is a simple noun and will come in a plural form if needed... "5 Stockwerke hoch".

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