Is there any difference between zwingen and erzwingen?

For example:

Niemand zwang mich, hier zu kommen.


Niemand erzwang von mir, hier zu kommen.

mean the same?

3 Answers 3


First of all:
Pay attention to the difference between ”hier kommen“ and ”hierher kommen“!

You wanted to translate

Nobody forced me to come here.

This English sentence has two very different meanings:

  1. Nobody forced me to get here.
  2. Nobody forced me to have an orgasm here.

But those two meanings do not fit into the same German sentence. You must decide which meaning you want to translate. Here are the translations:

  1. Nobody forced me to get here.
    Niemand zwang mich, hierher zu kommen.

  2. Nobody forced me to have an orgasm here.
    Niemand zwang mich, hier zu kommen.

So, If you say ”Niemand zwang mich, hier zu kommen“, you explicitly talk about having an orgasm.

I guess you wanted to use the meaning ”to get here“. So you have to use ”hierher“:

Niemand zwang mich, hierher zu kommen.
Niemand erzwang von mir, hierher zu kommen.

”Hierher“ is a direction, ”hier“ is a place. In English both words translate to ”here“.

But this wasn't your question.

Your Question

You wanted to know, if those sentences mean the same.

Yes, this two sentences mean the same, but ”zwingen“ and ”erzwingen“ are used differently:


The simplest pattern to use zwingen is this:

<Person A> zwingt <Person B>.
Markus zwingt Lisa.

So you have the Person in the Subject (Markus) who forces the person in the Akkusativobjekt (Lisa). But it is not necessary to tell what Lisa has to do.

But you often want to tell what has to be done, so you use this pattern:

<Person A> zwingt <Person B> <etwas> zu <tun>.
Markus zwingt Lisa die Tür zu öffnen.

Here you have a second Akkusativobjekt (die Tür) and an Infiniv with ”zu“ (zu öffnen)

A variation with ”kommen“ instead of ”tun“ is this pattern:

<Person A> zwingt <Person B> <irgendwohin> zu kommen.
Niemand zwingt mich, hierher zu kommen.


The simplest pattern to use erzwingen is this:

<Person> erzwingt <etwas>.
Markus erzwingt den Einlass. (Einlass = entrance)

The Subjekt is the same, and you again have an Akkusativobjekt, But now it is not another person, but an ability. With ”erzwingen“ you must say what it is that is enforced. You don't need to say from whom you enforced it.

But you can add this information in this pattern:

<Person A> erzwingt <etwas> von <Person b>.
Markus erzwingt den Einlass von Lisa.

Word-order is quite flexible in german, so also this is possible:

<Person A> erzwingt von <Person b> <etwas>.
Markus erzwingt von Lisa den Einlass.
Niemand erzwingt von mir hierher zu kommen.

  • Ohne es gelesen zu haben, bin ich mir sicher, dass der erste Absatz richtig ist. Aber im finde, das gehört nicht in die Antwort. Die Frage ist über etwas ganz anderes. Wenn ich nun nach den WÖrter google, auf dieser Seite lande, und erstmal einen Abschnitt über ein anderes Thema lese, bin ich schnell wieder weg als ich hier her gefunden habe. – Ich weiß, man fuscht sowas schnell schon mal in die Antwort. Ist mir auch schon oft passiert. Schöner wäre es aber, wenn dies in einem Kommentar behandelt wird, die Frage entsprechend geändert wird und die Antwort nur auf die eigentliche Frage eingeht.
    – Em1
    Aug 25, 2015 at 19:08
  • 1
    Kommentare haben zwei grundlegende Probleme: 1. Es gibt (fast) keine Möglichkeiten, den Text zu formatieren (z.B. Absätze, Überschriften). 2. Die Länge von Kommentaren ist begrenzt. Ich sah keine Möglichkeit, das was ich sagen wollten, in einen Kommentar zu quetschen. Aug 25, 2015 at 19:20
  • Zwei Kommentare? ^_^
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 10:03
  • Oder als Nachsatz - am Ende der Antwort?
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 11:51
  • Meines Wissens erzwingt "erzwingen" ein Akkusativobjekt. Die Infinitivkonstruktion erscheint mir fasch.
    – Kristina
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:49

The usage of the two verbs is similar to force (zwingen) and enforce (erwingen). That said, both of your sentences don't seem to be correct. You probably want to say something like: "Niemand zwang mich, hierher zu kommen" (Otherwise someone might think nobody forced you to ejaculate here)

  • Thank you for the answer. One more thing. Is the sentence : "Niemand erzwang von mir, hierher zu kommen" also correct?
    – ILoveChess
    Aug 25, 2015 at 12:27
  • 2
    Though I don't think it's necessarily wrong, it seems very awkward and I have never seen it used. Stick to "zwingen" in this case. Similarly I wouldn't use "Nobody enforced me to come here" in English.
    – Ultus
    Aug 25, 2015 at 12:31

There is one addition to the above said 'zwingen'

Markus zwingt Lisa die Tür zu öffnen.

Here you have a second Akkusativobjekt (die Tür) and an Infiniv with ”zu“ (zu öffnen)

This is formally seen incorrect.

It is not a second direct object (Akk.Obj.) -> the whole phrase 'die Tür zu öffnen' acts as an infinitive-construction which is replacing a secondary clause. So the sentence would be:

'Markus zwingt Lisa, dass sie die Türe öffnet.'

but because of the rules of subject-conformity between main- and secondary-clause you can (and actually do) substitute this sub-clause with an infinitive-construction.

So 'die Türe' is the direct object of the verb ('öffnen') of the secondary-clause, which is an independent entity (clause).

But if you are curious about it - there are words in German that actually do have two direct objects, one of them being 'fragen' (to ask).

'Markus fragt Lisa eine einfache Frage.'

Here no sub-clause or any alternative construction with a verb is used. These are really two direct objects in one clause. But that is super-rare.

And as to your question:

You can only 'zwingen' a person or an animal not an object or an abstraction. Of course you can personalize an object and 'zwingen' your car to do something :-)

But you can only 'erzwingen' an abstraction like 'Einlass'.

This is a complete phrase: 'Markus erzwingt den Einlass.'

If you want to add a person from who you want to 'erzwingen' something you'd have to use a prepositional-object like: 'Markus erzwingt den Einlass von Lisa.'

Even 'Markus zwingt Lisa.' is technically seen incorrect because it's just an incomplete phrase, some kind of shortcut of 'Markus zwingt Lisa dazu.', to pick up the thread of something, already said earlier like: 'Markus zwingt Lisa ihn einzulassen.' (or 'Markus zwingt Lisa, dass sie ihm ein Essen kocht/ein Essen zu kochen.'.

So 'zwingen' in order to be complete governs a direct object plus a sub-clause (respectively alternative 'dazu' or an infinitiv-construction).

And 'Niemand erzwang von mir, hierher zu kommen.' is definitely correct. It is just like 'Markus erzwingt den Einlass von Lisa.' or 'Markus erzwingt von Lisa den Einlass.'

But you can see the big difference right away -> a regular direct object can occupy both places - before and after the prepositional-object. When the infinitive-construction serves as direct object 'hierher zu kommen' you can't put it in front of the prepositional-object, like: 'Niemand erzwang hierher zu kommen von mir.'

You could only use this in a play or poem to express heroically and loudly -

Hamlet: 'Niemand erzwang hierher zu kommen von mir.'
'To beer or not to beer, this is here the question' ;-)))

  • You are contradicing yourself: First stating "you can only 'erzwingen' an abstraction", you then claim "Niemand erzwang von mir, hierher zu kommen." as correct. The latter is not, IMHO.
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 10:02
  • @Stephie: No contradiction at all - 'von mir / von Stephie' is no immediate object of the verb 'erzwingen', it's a prepositional complement! Or do you like the sound of: 'Ich erzwang Stephie, hierher zu kommen' ? Here Stephie is a direct object of the verb... - But, I guess you already knew that ;-)
    – mramosch
    Aug 26, 2015 at 12:59
  • 1
    And it doesn't give you goosebumps? Creeps me out..
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 13:08
  • @Stephie: Exactly - same here - goosebumps... - That's why I stated: But you can only 'erzwingen' an abstraction like 'Einlass'. BTW: I didn't want to disqualify you as an object - it was just for didactic purposes and purely figurative ;-)
    – mramosch
    Aug 26, 2015 at 13:34

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