When talking about spending less money on something, is there any difference between an and bei etwas sparen?

For example,

am Essen sparen vs. beim Essen sparen
am Heizen sparen vs. beim Heizen sparen
bei den Reisekosten sparen vs. an den Reisekosten sparen

3 Answers 3


One uses accusative to denote the thing one saves and bei for the process (Autofahren, Buchen, Duschen, usw.)

Man spart Geld/Benzin/Zeit beim Einkaufen/Tanken/Fahren

What an concerns, there are fixed constructs as:

an nichts sparen
am Essen sparen
am falschen Fleck sparen
an allen Ecken sparen

  • From your answer I would expect "Ich spare an Benzin/Geld/Zeit" are correct sentences, but it should be "Ich spare Benzin/Geld/Zeit".
    – Iris
    Aug 4, 2016 at 8:13
  • @Iris Klingt vernünftig. Jetzt weiß ich nicht mehr. Ich basierte auf dem Duden-Beispiel bei dem Essen war an nichts gespart worden. Ich habe das falsch pauschalisiert (?).
    – c.p.
    Aug 4, 2016 at 8:59
  • 1
    Das "an" in dem Beispiel gehört mMn zum feststehenden Ausdruck "an nichts sparen" (openthesaurus.de/synonyme/edit/36202). Ein zweiter Satz mit "an" wäre "sie spart am falschen Ende" (duden.de/rechtschreibung/sparen)
    – Iris
    Aug 4, 2016 at 9:13
  • Ansonsten fallen mir keine Sätze mit "sparen" und "an" ein, sondern entweder wird "beim" oder kein Artikel/bestimmter Artikel genutzt.
    – Iris
    Aug 4, 2016 at 9:15
  • 3
    Don't you think there is a slight shift in meaning? "Ich spare Benzin" (=I'm saving gas.) vs. "Ich spare an Benzin" (=I'm saving money on gas.)
    – stillenat
    Aug 4, 2016 at 15:23

There can be a difference but it is easier to see with other examples. Let’s take hobbies.

Er spart an seinen Hobbies — He wants to spend less on his hobbies.
Er spart bei seinen Hobbies — He saves money during his hobbies (perhaps his hobby is a really cheap one so he spends less during the time he does this than he would normally.)

Mostly c.p. had it right with his/her first sentence.

One uses accusative to denote the thing one saves and bei for the process

Er spart am Benzin oder er spart beim Autofahren indem er ökonomischer fährt.
He saves on (?) gas or he saves while driving by doing it more economically.

In both cases he pays less money for gas. In the first part he just buys less, in the other he needs ness because he’s more careful how much he uses.

Er spart am Essen oder beim Essen ist — is not as easy to understand as Essen can be both, the food and the process of eating. And this is where the difference is (or at least can be).

  • Welcome to German Language Stack Exchange. Feel free to take a tour of the site. Visit the help center for all questions about how it works. Nice first answer =)
    – Jan
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:38

I believe, the distinction between the two is the reason, WHY you spend less.

Beim Essen sparen

would be: You eat less or cheaper.

Am Essen sparen

would be: The cook chooses less valuable or even bad ingredients. So he can sell it cheaper or make more profit with it.
So "beim" is more "userfriendly". ;)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.