What is the difference between vermuten and erraten?

They both mean somehow guessing.
I came to think that erraten is actually closer to the meaning "guessing", while vermuten is in reality something a bit stronger than just guessing, maybe like knowing but just partially.
Is what I think correct? Is this the way to differentiate them?


2 Answers 2


Vermuten means to suppose, surmise, suspect... basically any verb that expresses the idea of thinking something without knowing it for a fact but knowing that one doesn't know it for fact.

Erraten is to guess in sense of guessing correctly.

  • erraten can be modified to mean still guessing >> versuchen zu erraten; Generally erraten aims for certainity while vermuten just gets the right direction.
    – Dawnkeeper
    Jan 28, 2015 at 17:34
  • @Dawnkeeper... that doesn't change the meaning of "erraten" one bit. It means "try to guess correctly". If "erraten" were changed then it would mean "to attempt making a guess". "Erraten" doesn't aim for certainty, it IS certainty. "Vermuten" on the other hand can be quite the wrong direction too.
    – Emanuel
    Jan 28, 2015 at 21:10

If you have erraten something, you are already right. If you are still guessing, the word is raten.

For example:

Guess how old I am?
Rate, wie alt ich bin?

If the answer is right, this phrase could follow:

You guessed right!
Du hast es erraten!

Vermuten means to suppose something.
E.g., the doctor can say:

Ich vermute, es handelt sich um einen Virus.

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