What is the difference between aufzeigen and zeigen? Both mean to show, and I guess aufzeigen could be more used in the spoken language maybe. Is it so? Is there a difference in the meaning?

Ich zeige dir meine Noten.


Ich zeige dir meine Noten auf.

I also found on Duden that aufzeigen has a special meaning in Austria, like sich melden (get in touch). The example I found was this one:

Wer es weiß, soll aufzeigen.

But what would that mean in English? How could that be translated to English? Whoever knows, get in touch?

3 Answers 3


Aufzeigen, on the contrary, is slightly more formal than zeigen (it’s also used to mean to raise a hand, like pupils in a classroom, but this is not meant here). It means to display, to demonstrate, to point out. Obviously there is some overlap with zeigen.

If you have literally something to show you’ll probably want to use zeigen.
Aufzeigen is somewhat more abstract:

Der Chemiker zeigte die Möglichkeit einer spontanen Reakion auf.
Der Geologe zeigte die Gefahr eines Bergsturzes auf.

Wer es weiß, soll aufzeigen. But what would that mean in English?

Who knows the answer? Show of hands!

  • I would prefer should put their hand up rather than show of hands but maybe that’s just personal preference.
    – Jan
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 11:46
  • 1
    Obviously there's more than one way to skin a cat.
    – Ingmar
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 9:23
  • Please, refrain from skinning cats.
    – Dannie P
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 11:35

In colloquial use and in the meaning of to show, you would only ever hear zeigen.

In dieser Museumsführung werden Sie einige Werke von da Vinci und einige von Dürer gezeigt bekommen.

Ich zeige dir den Weg, dann findest du alleine nach hause.

Soll ich dir meine Briefmarkensammlung zeigen?

In all of these examples aufzeigen would raise two or more eyebrows. That verb is used a lot more in a scientific sense of showing, proving as Ingmar pointed out. It has a more formal taste to it than simple zeigen and in my opinion it is rarely used.

Die Gruppe zeigte den Zusammenhang zwischen Alkohol und Betrunkenheit.
Die Gruppe zeigte den Zusammenhang zwischen Alkohol und Betrunkenheit auf.

And finally, aufzeigen can mean to put one’s hand up in school, but I think that usage is regionally restricted to the South (-East?)

Zehn Schüler zeigten auf; einer war so ungeduldig, dass er schnipsen musste.


In Austrian German "aufzeigen" means "raising hands" in order to get someone's attention. Usually this is used in school. Teacher asks a question and whoever knows the answer raises their hand. Teacher then picks someone.

Regarding your second question. "zeigen" means "to show" and aufzeigen is supposed to impress, e.g. a new young talented football player impresses with good performances, then you could say "Er hat mit seinen Leistungen aufgezeigt"

  • 2
    Hmm, I guess the latter use is Austrian only, then.
    – chirlu
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 10:35
  • 3
    I agree with chirlu, and "aufzeigen" in the sense of "raising hands" in not specific to Austria.
    – Em1
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 13:19

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