I am not sure about which verb to choose between "der Fußball liegt/steht".

The shape of the ball makes me confused. With for example Schere I would guess more easily that the right choice is liegen.

What about these other examples? Are my proposals right?

  • der Computer liegt auf dem Tisch
  • die Jacke hängt an der Garderobe
  • die Schere liegt auf dem Tisch
  • die Schlüssel (PL) hängen an dem Schlüssel-brett
  • die Tasche hängt zwischen dem Regal und dem Schrank

4 Answers 4


The correct / common expression would be "der Fußball liegt" though I don't know where exactly the thin line between "liegen" and "stehen" would actually go.

Your example with the computer is quite a border line case (as is the football) depending of what type of computer you're dealing with: a laptop computer would always be lying (liegen) on the table while a desktop computer would be standing (stehen) on the table.

From the context I would say "things that can't fall over" are lying – and "things that can fall over" are standing. This also implies that most things 'standing' can be in either state: a bottle can be standing – but if it falls over it's lying. Since a football can't fall over I suppose it's always 'lying'.

  • ok your explanation works pretty good for me.. Just one last thing: What would you say about a pair of schoes? I guess die Schuhe stehen auf dem Boden, is it right?
    – E.V.
    Mar 11, 2015 at 13:43
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    Schuhe "stehen" oder "liegen". But my mental picture would be "stehen" -> nice, orderly, as a pair; "liegen" -> dumped, perhaps on their side. Not a fixed rule, though
    – Stephie
    Mar 11, 2015 at 13:46
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    Re. the computer: When the term was established in the German language, computers were large wardrobe-like contraptions that obviously stood upright. The smaller models came way later and even then, there was no real need to replace the default "stehen" by "liegen" as there were both horizontal (-> which might have qualified as "liegend") and vertical (-> certainly "stehend") models. I have heard the phrase "Der Laptop steht auf dem Tisch." from plenty of native speakers - probably more with regard to order than direction. (Admittedly, computer geeks don't always fuss about grammar.)
    – Stephie
    Mar 11, 2015 at 13:59
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    @Stephie: Instinctively, I associate stehen primarily with an opened laptop and liegen with a closed one. Mar 11, 2015 at 17:07
  • 1
    And there's also mein Laptop steht da drüben which a friend of mine often says … when she's not using her laptop, she gives it a V-form and puts it down upright with both peaks of the V touching the ground, so that it can cool down more efficiently. Never would say liegen to that.
    – Jan
    May 3, 2015 at 13:35

Ein Fußball ist rund und er hat auch nichts, was man als Fuß oder Bodenplatte bezeichnen könnte. Er kann sich auch nicht in einer aufrechten Position befinden. Man sagt also: Der Ball liegt da in der Ecke.


No question about the ball, unless you manage to balance an american football on its tip..

The computer case is interesting.

Der Computer liegt auf dem Tisch.

to me would mean that it is not really ready to be used, but maybe the case opened for maintentance. Even for a Laptop I would never use "liegen", open or closed or even when it is just in a corner.

"Stehen" is not just "to stand"; it also has connotations from "Aufstellen" (to position, erect, set, set up, station)

Mein Laptop steht jetzt im Schlafzimmer.

My Laptop is now positioned in the bedroom.

Note that when you open a Laptop you don't move it, only the lid is moving, not the body, it is still standing on it tiny little rubber feet ;-)

  • Dass Computer liegen und nicht stehen ist darin begründet, dass man Computer nicht grundlos auf einen Tisch legt. Wenn man einen Laptop auf ein Bett ablegt, ist es richtig "Mein Laptop liegt auf dem Bett" zu sagen. Zudem haben (externe) Computerbildschirme immer noch einen Fuß. Mar 17, 2015 at 15:02
  • Bei 'Computer' ja. Aber bei 'Laptop' kann man sich schon fragen; liegt im Bett ist ein nettes Beispiel ,-)
    – TaW
    Mar 17, 2015 at 15:04

I disagree with tillinberlins second and third paragraphs.

It's not a matter of the computer type but if it stands as it is supposed to be. If a laptop is put down with his. Bottom to the table it will be 'stehen'; but placed upside down or on the edge (I know it's no more possible with today's models) it would be "liegen".

Neither it's the matter if it can fall down or not. A bottle for example can fall down but placed with bottom down and opening up, than you will say "Die Flasche steht (auf dem Tisch)" but otherwise you will say "Die Flasche liegt (auf dem Tisch)"

So you can say that all that has an ability to be placed on a ground (surface / held only by itself and gravity) AND is positioned in that way "steht".
The ball in this example is, has no "foots" or "legs" in any kind in which it can "stehen", so it always will be "liegen".

  • A lapotp balanced on the edge would be "stehen" IMHO, using the distinction via horizontal (->stehen) / vertical (-> liegen) main axis and I strongly suspect that's what @tillinberlin meant by can/can't topple over when talking about the bottle.
    – Stephie
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:36
  • Only if you're implying that that was the correct way! Otherwise it would be laying on the side or on German "auf der Seite liegen". But I know what you mean, but write down how you would tell it in German, to have it positioned that way. Mar 11, 2015 at 20:45
  • There appears to be two ways to define stehen vs. liegen. One is based on geometry (more on this in the related post above), one on a sense of order, of the way it's intended. Hence I "lege" my computer when I move it from the intended & upright position to the side, but if I prop up / balance my laptop on its edge I focus on direction (vertical) and "stelle". This means often both terms can be used interchangeably, depending on the speaker's focus and intention.
    – Stephie
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:57
  • As the related answer mentions at first: "gemäß einer vorgesehenen Ausrichtung.", this is related to the geometric assembly but does not depend on. The book is no exception: in a book shelf a book "has" to stand in a special way and only then you use "stehen", otherwise it will be "liegen" again. "Aufrichten" means to reposition something in the "correct" way. Doing that to something without a predefinition, you're implying the definition of the "right way", which usually depends on the geometric, but only from a subjective point of view. Mar 11, 2015 at 21:57
  • Take for example the fence: "Wir werden den Zaun aufrichten" will mean to build a fence, but while doing the aligning will be horizontal than vertical. If it's done one will say "Der Zaun steht nun". What can confuse is the ending "-richten" which can also mean to align something in a direction ("die Richtung") as in "ausrichten". Mar 11, 2015 at 22:21

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