I found the following three constructions with beraten in the Duden:

  1. as a transitive verb: etwas beraten;

  2. as an intransitive verb: über etwas beraten;

  3. as a reflexive verb: sich über etwas beraten, where sich is in the accusative case.

All seem to mean to discuss sth. together in order to reach a conclusion or decision. However, I wonder whether there is any difference in their exact meanings or in any other aspect.

For example, is there any real difference in meaning or in any other aspect among the following three?

Sie beraten die Angelegenheit.

Sie beraten über die Angelegenheit.

Sie beraten sich (miteinander) über die Angelegenheit.

  • No differencebetween the transitive and intransitive form, as long as you don't use the transitive form in a transitive way: "jemanden beraten" – tofro Apr 27 '16 at 8:56

All three constructions mean the same thing. However, (1) is also used when you give advice to someone:

Wir beraten mehrere Fortune-500-Firmen.

Here the direct object is the advisee, not the topic under discussion.

Usually, context will disambiguate between "Wir beraten den Kunden" and "Wir beraten das Problem", but not always, therefore to be clear it's better to stick with the other variants.

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