All three words ausfallen, geraten and gelingen seem to be translated as to turn out.
Can anybody tell me the differences between them? For example, are the following translations possible?

"The cake turned out well."

"Der Kuchen ist gut ausgefallen."
"Der Kuchen ist gut geraten."

"The result of the game turned out good."

"Das Spielergebnis ist gut ausgefallen."

"Her hair turned out green (after she colored it)."

"Ihre Haare sind grün geraten."

"The weather turned out to be good."

"Das Wetter ist gut geraten."

I'm trying to connect them to how I understand the words ausfallen, geraten and gelingen, but I don't see a clear distinction.


5 Answers 5


Gelingen is the easy one. It means "succeed". As such it should not need great explanations.

Ausfallen emphasises the final outcome of a process.

Wie ist seine Entscheidung ausgefallen?

The other two would be wrong here.


This is extremely hard to pin down, but I would say it emphasises the process far more than ausfallen. Although they overlap in the participle, the difference becomes apparent in the basic verb:

Der Junge gerät nach seinem Vater./The boy comes after his father.

This is clearly a process and not just an outcome! The others can't be used here!

We are not concerned with the other meanings of geraten here, but they might help you grasp, why I claim it has a more procedural flavour:

Wie bist du da hinein geraten? / How did you get into that (situation)?

As for your examples

First example:

All three can be used, but "ausgefallen" sounds somewhat odd to me. It has a slight flavour to me, as if there were previous trials in which the baker failed to satisfy and this time the cake came out good. But these are definitely slightest nuances.

Second example:

This is a very good example. "Ergebnis" implies some finality and hence only "ausgefallen" really fits. Well done!

Third example:

This would suggests, to me at least, something else was desired. For reasons I can't pin down, it sounds a bit unnatural. On the other hand:

Die Haare sind etwas grün geraten./ The hair turned out a bit greenish. ,

would be completely natural.

Fourth Example:

This sounds very odd, unless you are Saint Peter, making the weather,or talking to him. Note, however, that this holds true for all three choices.

  • I have the feeling that ausgefallen sounds a bit like a random outcome (or one that the speaker cannot control) while geraten can also be used for outcomes that the speaker entirely controls. But I’m not too sure on this …
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 17:48
  • 1
    "Das Wetter ist gut geworden" wäre die Übersetzung, die ich wählen würde. "Die Haare sind grün geworden" geht auch, ebenso wie der Kuchen "gut geworden" ist. Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 3:28

The three words refer to the degree of effort or skill on the part of the actor that brought about the result.

Ausfallen literally means to "fall out." That is to turn out "randomly."

Geraten also means to "turn out," but is largely a result of effort or skill.

Gelingen is to succeed. It is a result (mostly) of one's making.

"The cake turned out well."

"Der Kuchen ist gut ausgefallen." (It was made by a "random" cook and turned out well by luck.)
"Der Kuchen ist gut geraten." (It was made by a professional baker, and of course one would expect this result.)
"Dem Bäcker ist der Kuchen gelungen" "The baker succeeded with the cake." This is an uncommon construction. The previous one is more common.

"Das Wetter ist gut geraten." I would use "Das Wetter ist gut ausgefallen" to refer to a random result. Unless you were talking about the "effort or skill" of say, Mother Nature.

  • 1
    @Medi1Saif: Fixed. Thanks for you help.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 7:13
  • I am not sure about the fact that "Geraten" is the result of effort or skill... For instance, the following example from newspaper: "Die Nummer 5 der Schweizer Wirtschaftsprüfer ist in eine Krise geraten." So yes, the verb "turn out" looks good, but more with a negative, passive connotation. Any opinion? (caveat: non-native German speaker here...) Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 12:57


This word has several meanings and its use as a translation of "turn out" probably is not the most common. I think it's mostly used as a synonym for unusual or something special ("Das ist ein ausgefallener Kuchen") or if something planned doesn't take place ("Das Konzert ist ausgefallen" or "Der Zug ist ausgefallen").

As a translation of "turn out", I think it's mostly used in questions:

Wie ist es ausgefallen?

But after a quick google-search, it looks as if it's a bit old-fashioned to use it that way, since quite a few of the results are quotes from old books. For me, "Der Kuchen ist gut ausgefallen" sounds ok, but unusual.


Sounds ok, but as Alex already mentioned, it has an undertone as if randomness had a lot to do with it.


I think this is the most common word to use in the context of something turned out well with a direct influence of someone. And you can even omit "gut", because "Das ist mir gelungen" already implies it turned out good. So the common opposite would not be "Das ist mir schlecht gelungen", but "Das ist mir nicht gelungen".

  • I’m totally missing the pun ‘Ich hab die ganze Woche ausgefallenen Sex’ in the first part ;)
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 17:49

I can only tell subjectively as a native speaker.

The only ausfallen (meaning geraten) use case that comes to my mind is when trying on clothes:

Wie sitzt die Hose?
Sie fällt sehr groß aus.

Geraten and gelingen make sense especially when something is manually made or you have direct influence on it:

Der Kuchen ist gut geraten! Der Kuchen ist dir gut gelungen!
Das Gemälde ist nicht sehr gut geraten. Das Gemälde ist dir nicht sehr gut gelungen.

But I would say geraten has also some passive, non-influencable touch to it, whereas gelingen is used when you are fully accountable for something:

Deine Kinder sind aber gut geraten.

But as I said, totally subjective.

  • Thank you very much for your great comments. I think I have a better understanding, but would like further clarification on a couple of example sentences. Could I say the following: "Das Spielergebnis ist gut ausgefallen." The result of the game turned out good. "Ihre Haare ist gruen geraten." Her hair turned out green (after she colored it) "Das Wetter ist gut geraten." The weather turned out to be good.
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 14:25
  • Except the last one, yes! You'd rather say "Das Wetter hat sich als gut herausgestellt."
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 14:50

Die Unterschiede sind eher subtil.

  • ausfallen

Etwas ist so oder so ausgefallen legt den Fokus ganz auf das Ergebnis. Von einem Spielergebnis, das gut ausgefallen ist, würde man reden, wenn das Spiel selbst nicht so gut war, wenn es im letzten Moment erst zum guten Ergebnis kam, aber auch wenn man erst hinterher vom guten Ergebnis erfährt.

Verfolgt man, wie es 1:0, 2:0, 3:0 steht um dann mit 7:0 zu enden würde man nicht sagen, das Spielergebnis sei gut ausgefallen.

  • geraten

Kinder sind gut geraten, der Kuchen ist gut geraten - hier fokussiert man mehr auf den Prozess, der zum guten Ergebnis führte.

  • gelingen

Dabei konzentriert man sich auf die erzielte Absicht. Die Suppe kann zu salzig geraten aber nicht zu salzig gelingen. Zu salzig ausfallen kann sie jedoch schon. Auch die Negation, "zu salzig misslungen" geht sprachlich nicht. Allenfalls "Die Suppe ist zu salzig, misslungen." Aber "Der Kuchen ist gut gelungen" oder einfach nur "Der Kuchen ist gelungen" geht. Die Grünfärbung der Haare kann gelingen, aber "Die Haare sind grün gelungen" sagt man nicht.

Alles ist auch irgendwie geworden: Die Haare grün, der Kuchen, das Spielergebnis und das Wetter gut.

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