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Are there any differences between their usages in conversational German? In English the sentence "He has changed, I don't know him anymore," is not as powerful or definite as "He has transformed, I don't know him anymore." Is it the same in German?

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"Verwandelt"
kind of includes a change of shape for me. It is, indeed, stronger and makes me think something new was created. We usually use this word with magic and visible changes. Like a wizard verwandelt a human into a mouse. Or somebody in a theater walks behind the curtain and verwandelt himself into another character(changing clothes etc).

"Verändert"
is more like a smaller difference. The weather can change or somebody can change his voice. But something that was verändert is just different from before and not something completely else.


It's hard to describe since you can use verändert along with some strong adjectives to make sure it has the same meaning as verwandeln (just like you could do with change/transform).

"He completely changed his personality" - it is a change of something
"He transformed into another person" - it is creating something new

Verwandeln, however, fells like a special way of verändern but not the other way round. So I should say verändern is more the 'umbrella 'term' here. Just like change can be 'transform', 'turn', 'alter', 'vary',...but not the other way round. They are very close but as you assumed correctly they are not the same.

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  • 2
    "verwandeln" definitely implies a larger change, almost approaching the magical. Think caterpillar/butterfly, not green leaf/yellow leaf. – Kilian Foth Jan 22 '15 at 8:54
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Maybe it is useful to look at the root of the words.

Verwandeln

stems from Gewand (garnment) and refers (more) to the change of appearance than its inner values. Its used synonym to umgestalten (to change the shape).

However, I said "more" because this is only the root of the word, providing a feel for it, but not necessary its whole current meaning. One of the meanings of Verwandeln listed by Duden:

1a (in Wesen oder Erscheinung) sehr stark, völlig verändern, anders werden lassen (change strongly)

Verändern

stems from anders (different) and implies that something of it changed, a change of appearance than its inner values. Its used synonym to umgestalten (to change the shape).

One of the meanings of Verwandeln listed by Duden:

1 (im Wesen oder in der Erscheinung) anders machen, ändern, umgestalten (change)

Summary

Duden sais verwandeln is stronger than verändern so you are correct :)

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  • Good idea. I didn't look up anything :D – Avigrail Jan 22 '15 at 10:01

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