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I read from Duden the following two usages of besprechen:

  1. as a transitive verb: etwas besprechen;

  2. as a reflexive verb: sich über etwas besprechen, where sich is in the accusative case;

The two constructions seem to have very similar meanings, which are roughly to discuss something.

I am wondering whether there is any difference in meaning or any other aspect between them? For example, do the following two sentences mean exactly the same?

Sie besprechen (miteinander) den Plan.

Sie besprechen sich (miteinander) über den Plan.

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The difference between the two is mainly focus. In ‘Sie besprechen den Plan’, the focus is on the plan they are discussing. Maybe they already know rather clearly what they want and just have to hash out the details.

In ‘Sie besprechen sich über den Plan’, the focus is put more on the discussing people themselves or the discussion itself and less on the plan. Maybe they need to argue a lot, because they have different ideas on what the best plan could be.

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I don't know why DUDEN lists besprechen as a reflexive verb. It is not used as such. Hence, the second sentence you gave for an example doesn't sound correct to me. You can say: "Sie haben eine Besprechung über etw." oder "Sie sprechen sich ab" but not "Sie besprechen sich über den Plan". This verb is only used as a transitive verb.

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    "sich mit jemandem besprechen" is absolutely fine, e.g. "Ich bespreche mich mit meinen Kollegen." – Em1 Apr 27 '16 at 12:39
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    Yes, I agree in this sentence it is correct because you don't use an object here (Plan). But if you want to specify what you are discussing with your colleague you need to use the transitive form: Ich bespreche den Plan mit meinem Kollegen. – nelly Apr 27 '16 at 12:51

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