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I don't understand the difference between durchführen and ausführen. I understand that both mean to conduct, to execute, to perform. At my workplace I often hear "Ich habe dieses Skript ausgeführt", meaning "I just ran this script", but could I also say "Ich habe dieses Skript durchgeführt"?

Or in which contexts exactly should I use both of these?

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In respect to computers, you can only use ausführen, which means to execute a script, program etc.

In general, ausführen is much broader in sense and carries a lot of meanings that aren't covered by durchführen. These are basically to export products or commodities, to invite somebody and to take them out, and to explain something.

Their overlapping senses is if you've planned something and you carry that out. In that case you use durchführen and ausführen. Same applies to orders. So, basically, when you conduct an activity, you can use either one.

I can hardly say when it's more appropriate to use one over the other. Some collocations for ausführen are Arbeiten, Befehle, Tätigkeiten, Aufträge, Anweisungen, Aufgaben, while collocations for durchführen are Pläne, Experimente, Messungen, Operationen, Untersuchungen, Kontrollen. But you can usually swap them without even changing the slightest connotation. I guess that sounds a bit disappointing, but it's hard to grasp any real difference — or at least to express it in words.

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    I would maybe add, that ausführen sometimes has the military ring of einen Befehl ausführen to it. Otherwise nice answer. – Jan Jan 1 '16 at 0:56
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In general, it's roughly the same subtle difference as between carry out and carry through. The analogy does go so far that in both languages it's idiomatic to carry out a script (in German a bit more than in English, which often prefers terms of Latin/Romance origin) but not so much to carry through a script - unless you want to stress the fact that you complete the script even though a lot of effort is involved.

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