I recently found the verb berichten which, if I am not wrong, mainly is used to express to report something to someone, in a sort of official way.

Then I also found that berichten can be used like erzählen, telling something to someone.

I was wondering about the difference in connotation and usage of these two verbs.

I guess that erzählen is more used, but how would it sound if instead I would use berichten?

Ich habe ihm alles erzählt.

Ich habe ihm alles berichtet.

3 Answers 3


Berichten is quite formal and typically implies that the story being told is true (to the best of the teller’s knowledge) while erzählen is just telling a story. It might be a fictional story, a fairy tale or whatnot, but could also be a report about a fact or true event.

Think of the words Geschäftsbericht (business report), or Unfallbericht (accident report). Those are cases where berichten would be the word of choice. On the other hand, when you tell someone about your holidays, you would use erzählen.

To sum it up berichten is closer to relate or report, depending on the situation. Erzählen is closer to narrate.


The word berichten is only used in an official-ish context. Examples:

Berichten Sie mir bitte bis morgen, was Sie letzte Woche erreicht haben! (context: boss’ speech at work.)

Der Sachverständige berichtete … (translation: reported)

It always implies leaving out the unimportant part and saying nothing but the truth.

The word erzählen mainly just means telling something that will likely be a story at the end.

Erzähl mir von deinem Wochenende!

Erzählst du mir eine Gute-Nacht-Geschichte?

Whether the story is true depends on the context; telling about the week-end implies truth while the bedtime story doesn’t. But likely you wouldn’t leave out all too much, even if it’s unimportant.


"berichten" ist im sachlichen Stil die notwendigen Informationen zu einem Sachverhalt darstellen wie es etwa in einem Unfallbericht der Polizei der Fall ist.

Ķinder wollen ein Märchen erzählt haben mit allen unterhaltenden Ausschmückungen und keinen klapperdürren Bericht der Fakten.

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