Both appear as translations to to be used to something in Leo. Specifically, the difference between gewohnt and gewöhnt seems to escape me. Whereas Duden defines the former as

durch Gewohnheit üblich geworden; vertraut; bekannt

it doesn’t provide any definition for the latter. Leo seems to point to the fact that gewöhnt means accustomed, which sounds pretty similar to the definition from Duden for gewohnt.


Gewohnt is the adjective that describes that you are used to something.

Ich bin es gewohnt, dass...

Gewöhnt is the past participle form of gewöhnen and as such describes that you get used to something. This is also the reason you can't find it in Duden, because you have to look up the respective verb instead.

Ich habe mich daran gewöhnt, dass...

  • 1
    Ok, thanks. But what's the difference?
    – user19407
    Jan 5 '16 at 15:47
  • 1
    See the bold parts: "get used to" versus "are used to"; and one is a proper adjective and the other is a verbal form.
    – Em1
    Jan 5 '16 at 15:48
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    @user19407 A past participle form can be used as a adjective. But "gewöhnt" is not an adjective per se. Note, that you can't say "der gewöhnte Alltag", because your daily life is nothing which can get used to something. However, "der gewohnte Alltag" is fine, because there you're using a real adjective with the meaning of "the way as you already know it / you are used to".
    – Em1
    Jan 5 '16 at 16:09
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    @AlanEvangelista Having looked it up, I also learned that you can drop "es" in the second sentence. That sounds odd to me as well, but apparently it's correct. So, after having learned that, I will now answer your question about what the difference is: There's only a very subtle difference and you can safely ignore this difference.
    – Em1
    May 23 '19 at 9:34
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    @AlanEvangelista Here's my source: canoo.net/blog/2010/06/10/gewohnt-gewoehnt
    – Em1
    May 23 '19 at 9:35

Gewöhnt is a participle, thus a verb form, thus involves a (present or past) action. Someone has actively done something to get used to something.

Ich habe mir das Rauchen abgewöhnt.

Den Hund muss man erst an die neue Umgebung gewöhnen.

Gewohnt is an adjective, thus denotes a state. There is not necessarily an action involved here, and if yes, gewohnt describes the resulting state.

Wir sind es gewohnt, morgens die Sonne im Osten aufgehen zu sehen.

  • I do not think common speakers (like me, for one) distinguish it strictly. There are set phrases that surface analysis cannot explain (i.e. es gewo[e!]hnt sein). An etymology might help here (to support certainty or raise doubt). The fact that gewohnt and gewöhnt might both be participles as variants of the verb is confusing (just as preterite-presents show umlautung in some conjugations, there is little for a native speaker to decide). The examples are chosen poorly because no participle PoS is shown to -wöhn- (although the perfect is counted as participle construction, it isn't one).
    – vectory
    Jun 24 at 20:34

I know it's awkward to resurrect such an old question, but I did not personally find the accepted answer and ensuing discussion satisfying. That the difference lies between "is" and "get" is technically correct, but an important nuance is slipping through the tiny gap between these two tiny words. Also, gewohnt itself is a homonym for the past participle of wohnen (as noted by @tofro, gewohnt is actually derived from a outdated verb gewohnen), so the argument that one comes from a verb and the other doesn't is a little misleading.

With an etwas gewöhnt sein, the subject has been actively trying to get themselves used to something or make something a habit / normal part of their life. That gewöhnt is the past participle of a transitive verb further illuminates its active nature. Take, for example, jemanden an etwas gewöhnen, wherein the subject is making someone else get used to something or helping them build a habit:

Du musst die Kinder an Ordnung gewöhnen. = You have to get the kids used to order.

One can also break a habit or get someone else to break a habit with abgewöhnen:

Ich habe mir das Rauchen abgewöhnt. = I have given up (the habit of) smoking.

Whereas with gewohnt, the emphasis has more to do with passive experience or living day-to-day with something, which makes sense, because of its connection to wohnen:

Die Kinder sind Ordnung gewohnt. = The kids are used to order. (Because they've experienced / lived with it.)

Ich bin das Rauchen gewohnt. = I am used to smoking. (Note that it's not clear whether the speaker smokes or whether they live with people who smoke. Either way, it's something they've lived with and have experience with.)

This last example from this Spiegel article does a great job of contrasting both words directly:

Elke war es gewohnt, von den Männern versetzt zu werden, aber daran gewöhnen konnte sie sich nie. = Elke was used to being stood up by men (she had experienced it a lot), but she could never get used to it (she was not actively trying to make it a normal part of her life).

P.S. I'm not a native German speaker, just studying like my life depends on it. I may be wrong, and I'd love to be corrected.

  • 1
    You are on the right track, but the explanation is actually much simpler - one is a verb form and the other isn't (at least not in contemporary language). So, one implies an action, and the other doesn't. BTW: gewohnt used to be the participle of gewohnen (not "wohnen") (vertraut werden), a verb that doesn't exist anymore.
    – tofro
    Jun 24 at 6:26
  • Since the question was originally asked about the English translation, as a native English speaker, I didn't find the simple explanation sufficient to keep me from confusing the two day-to-day. Also, "gewohnt" is a homonym for the past participle of the extant verb "wohnen"-- I understand it's not used that way here, but the superficial relationship can act as a mnemonic device. Jun 24 at 7:54
  • I appreciate that a specific English background might lead to confusion, as most translations of "gewöhnt" and "gewohnt" end up in participles (thus, verb forms) as well. Maybe it helps to translate "gewöhnt" to "accustomed to" and "gewohnt" to "familiar"?
    – tofro
    Jun 24 at 10:16
  • "With an etwas gewöhnt sein, the subject has been actively trying to get themselves..." Is that necessary self-reflexive?
    – vectory
    Jun 24 at 20:35
  • @tofro But translation is soooo context dependent. Most of the time I would honestly translate both as "is/get used to." But also, to really learn a new language, one should also abstain from too much translation. Hence why it was helpful (for me anyway) to figure out some kind of underlying essence for each word, which I can now map to a gut feeling independent of a specific translation. Jun 25 at 8:11

Gewoehnt is simply a Frankish participle, as is evid-e-nt by the -ent, *-(o)nts ending. It is a given, then, that the stem cannot have to do anything with wohnen.

This view is difficult to justify though, because the comparison to wohnen is convincing, to wean off is an immediate cognate with abgewöhnen, Latin habbit, Habitus ~ Angewohneit is a direct translation, and any vexilation has to have come a long way to be compatible with the above hypothesis (and the facts, not to forget).

The stems can be and are projected as separated entities from the same root through Proto-Germanic down to Proto-Indo-European (cf. wiktionary), so we are in uncanny valley and the premisses is thus justified (though the hypothesis is long not valid or sound), although at the same time slightly off-topic for this venue, it will serve well for illustration.

The quintessence of my answer will be that to me as a native speaker it makes hardly any difference, adj. ungewohnt, adv. ungewöhich, to the point that I needed to seek proof for the short answer (see @tofro's above).

A-priori I guess that Umlaut usually stems from mutation due to a following -i-, which might look like subjunctive. That's as far as I get without any certainty. Wiktionary goes a lot further without a shred of doubt, confiming @tofros succint answer

  • gewöhnen, gewöhnt < Middle High German gewenen < Old High German gawenian, giwennen, wenian, wennan (likewise in Old English)

    • PGem *wanjaną
      • PIE *wonh₁-éye-ti (causative), from *wenh₁- "to wish, desire, love"
  • gewohnt, wohnen (cp. En. wont "desire") < MHG wonen < OHG wonēn

    • PGem *wunāną
      • PIE *wn̥h₁-éh₁ye-ti (essive), also from *wenh₁-.

The macron over vowels marks them long, as if wohne:en. The philologic orthography is idealized and naturally varied more than that.

The vocalism might--on account of OHG--but is apparently not due to a recent change (not a case of Middle High German Umlautung), though the variant spellings, if they are indicative of different pronounciations, leave room for doubt if there was more to be reconstructed. The Umlaut can hardly be explained from MHG gewenen other than from convergence under influence of gewohnt (as I argue I might myself be prone to).

Howbeit, *-jana and *-āną (not to be confused with the infinitive ending *-āną) have more than one uncertain origin each, *éh₁yeti more than one outcome depending, apparently, only on syllable boundaries (eg. *-éh₁-yeti > *-ona > ModHG -en), and there is no external comparison listed, be it Latin or else, to confirm the early existence of these particular words. The reasoning seems to rest instead on grammatical arguments for internal reconstruction, i.e. causative and essive.

In that situation, it could as well stem from an entirely different root, the ending formed in Germanic.

Compare for example kann (*konnte, könnte, könnend, -konnt) and kenn (*kannte, kenne, kennend, -kannt), equivalently can and know (which all stem from the same root, in all likelyhood). Although the modal can looks more like a main verb, due to it's frequency, it is actually the odd one out while the root is interpreted as "know" (cp. Latin gnosco).

Finally, suppose the existence of a contracted form

  • ? ang`wöhnen, viz. angewöhnen, i.e. to learn, teach

The back-tick has to be read as glottal-stop when read as ellision marker, because a cluster g + consonant does not exist in German onset; Although stops in the offset do exist, they devoice unless preced by 'n', contrast legt, legen. The result (requiring a degree in phonology, I'm affraid) might work to show that it also belongs with the root *ǵneh₃ ("to know"). The ellipses could be explained from dissimilatory processes resulting in assimilation because of the prefix, or metathesis (cp. erkannt); same for ungewohnt, ungewöhnlich (i.e. unknown), eingewöhen (potentially a doublet of an- through dialect, cf. Grimm: an-). I'm not sure if current research is aware of this ... fact. Conversely, I am not sure if the ellipses has any currency, but dialects with fortis velar do exist, so I tend to think that's valid. It might be coincidence anyhow that Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *ǵneh₃ ("know") is reconstructed with a palatal that would match it pretty well. Nevertheless, according to state of the art this is not very likely, unheared of, and would need rather more proof than an appeal to ignorance. I don't know. The apparently unetymological w in know is also curious.

This does not mean that PIE *wenh₁- had no play in this (cp. want, win, wish, wonder, venerate, Venus, and of course wohnen), but it should be rather difficult to go from that (i.e. "to love" [en.WT] or "streben" [Pokorny apud Pfeifer, DWDS]) through *wn̥h₁-éh₁ye-ti (essive) to Proto-Germanic *wunan- "1. To be satisfied, be pleased with, enjoy 2. To be accustomed (to) 3. To remain, dwell, live, reside" [en.WT]. And, it might be notable that Gothic only attests to the negative polarity participle, cf. unwunands ‘sich nicht freuend, bekümmert, unzufrieden' [DWDS]. "essive" FYI TIL is a lexical aspect that "... indicates existence in a state or capacity", "... a temporary state of being" [en.WT].

[en.WT] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/wenh%E2%82%81- -- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/wun%C4%81n%C4%85 -- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/essive

[DWDS] https://www.dwds.de/wb/wohnen

More over, *w is a semivowel that tends to vocalize in interconsonantal position (or vice versa, say Eduard), therefore cp. gönnen (viz. please), Gunst, günstig, etymologized as MHG gunst < unst < PGem *undiz, *unnaną +‎ *-þiz (besides *unþō; *abundiz, *anstiz) < PIE *h₃n̥-né-h₂-ti (nasal-infix present), *h₃neh₂- "to enjoy" (cp. AGr. ὀνίνημι, onínēmi "to be of use, help", ἀπόνητο, apónēto "to have joy of something").

The g-might be assumed to be the participle prefix. The gloss to enjoy has to be understood with the full force of a comprehensive dictionary, if in doubt. The funky *h with footnotes are called laryngeals, an ellusive bunch that can be derived from vowels in a few languages like Greek, see above -ónē-, but they were lost almost everywhere else leaving only secondary traces on adjacent phonemes, in particular lengthening preceding vowels which we see precisely not in the above, for some reason. Capital *H stands for an undetermined quality. The nasal-infix *-ne- (receives the stress and) causes the preceding sonorant to vowelize, thus *h₃n̥-... is nearly equivalent with *ne- "not", *n̥- > un- (ii) *h₁en "in" or *h₁ní "down", *h₁n̥dʰí, -er "under, below" + *h₁entér "inter, in" > *n̥dʰér + *n̥tér > under.

I don't know about you, but this reminds me of Unterkunft, understanding, Unterstützung, and it might explain why we fall in love under a spell. It may be related to *wenH-, which shows similar semantics, and would otherwise have no reflex in Greek. The nasal-present might be difficult to distinguish from reduplication, and it's status as infix is overall poorly understood, y'know, y'unnastand?

I reckon this does not solve the issue, which will require a more timid resolution in the end regarding the essive. Informally, I suggest the difference between gewöhnt und gewohnt is that of the auxilaries haben or sein, in line with @tofro's examples. That's basically imperfect versus stative. This explains how to tell the difference, but not why, nor when to use it, wherefore I presuppose an intuitive understanding of participle grammar, that will be explained elsewhere in due detail (a quick explanation is that sein goes with verbs of movement, but it is more difficult than that).

A problem I have (did?) not find an answer for, and have been unable to explain myself is the longer phrase «es gewo(e)hnt sein» which might be just a mere dummy pronoun, today, but needs to have come from somewhere, too.

Finally, a note on ge-participles. The ga-prefix was productive in Germanic, similar to Latin (co-), but grammaticalized only after the common stage, since the Gothic and Norse perfects don't show it. It is entirely reasonable to read *'kom- "with" > *ga- in semantic function as would be the case in most Latin examples, especially in comparison with convenio, whence convenient, notwithstanding provinence of the root, venio "to come", or more distant comparisons (un-gainly < gagner < win, forexample)

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