Could anyone explain to me whether there is any difference between the words Zeiterfassung and Zeitverfolgung?

Aren’t both supposed to mean time tracking?

  • Bitte konsultiere erst ein Wörterbuch, und wenn das nicht weiterhilft, erläutere, wieso es die Frage nicht beantworten konnte. Oct 12, 2016 at 2:41
  • Vielen Dank für die Empfehlung. Ich habe schon immer gewusst, was Zeiterfassung bedeutet, habe mich aber vor kurzem auf "Zeitfverfolgung" auf einer Webseite gestoßen, und wollte gerne wissen, ob es ein Synonym sein könnte. Das Wort erscheint ziemlich häufig in der Google-Suche, und es lässt sich nicht so einfach feststellen, ob es tatsächlich gebräuchlich ist. Oct 12, 2016 at 11:34

5 Answers 5



The verb »erfassen« has more than one meanings, but in this context it is »to enter« or even better: »to collect«. (»to collect data« = »Daten erfassen«)


The verb »verfolgen« also has more meanings, and »to track« is the one that is used here, but when a native speaker hears »verfolgen« in German, you first think of »to follow« (in the sense of »to go/run behind someone«).

So you have this translations:

the process of collecting time-data


the process of tracking/following time

As said above, in German you use »verfolgen« more like in

The hound is tracking the fox.
The hound is following the fox.

And it just makes no sense to follow the time, and this is why the term »Zeitverfolgung« will be found in bad English-to-German-translations, but not in a text written by a native speaker. The usual German term is



Zeitverfolgung would be a literal translation, I never heard it before. Zeiterfassung is the correct term, if you are talking about, for example, tracking working hours.


As Jitter already mentioned, Zeiterfassung is the standard term for tracking time, for example when tracking working hours.

Sie sind zur Arbeitszeiterfassung verpflichtet.

Zeitverfolgung is not typically used. To me, it sounds like following time, having a dog follow time’s trails. This is in line with the second meaning of the verb to track which is generally not intended when referring to time tracking. However, you could also understand it as following the passage of time.

»Da vorne läuft die Zeit! Hinterher!« »Welche eine Zeitverfolgung.«

(Am Telefon) »Ich sitze auf dem Sofa und verfolge, wie die Zeit vergeht.« »Na hast du denn außer Zeitverfolgung heute noch etwas anderes vor?«

(Examples not exactly everyday usage — naturally.)


In the internet you'll find a lot of words (and bullshit), thus, I'll recommend to check books, e.g. with Google Books Ngramm Viewer. It shows that "Zeitverfolgung" has zero results:

Google Books Ngram Viewer

But I also checked the google hits to Zeitverfolgung. On the two first pages all hits were either articles about periods of percepution ("www.zeitklicks.de/nationalsozialismus/.../zeit/verfolgung/.../wer-leistet-widerstand/") or commands in project management software (e.g. "Jira"). My guess, "Zeitverfolgung" first occured as an translation error in one of the project management softwares and has been replicated in project management since its first false use.

Zeiterfassung ist the correct term!

  • Thanks a lot for the really helpful tip, as well as for pointing out that Zeitverfolgung may be a result of a bad translation. It may sometimes be quite hard for a non-native speaker to find out which word can or cannot be used in a particular situation. Another suggestion would be nachverfolgen, could it be used in terms of time tracking? Or is erfassen still the only valid verb in this context? Oct 12, 2016 at 12:29
  • @somnium_verum, "nachverfolgen" is listed in Duden, so it is a "official" German word. It means to track somethink backwards, e.g. If I order something, I can track it, but if the package is lost, for sure I am going to track its way back. In German: Wenn ich etwas bestelle, can ich das Packet verfolgen, aber falls das Packet verloren geht, werde ich sicher versuchen seinen Weg nachzuverfolgen.
    – Iris
    Oct 12, 2016 at 13:46
  • So, if there is an successive error in your time tracking, I'll try to track the error back to the first false entry. ... ich versuche den Fehler nachzuverfolgen...
    – Iris
    Oct 12, 2016 at 13:53

As others have mentioned, the usual term used in German is Zeiterfassung. You might use the term Zeitverfolgung if you actually evaluate an employee's work time over a certain period of time to see whether he constantly works overtime or gather other relevant information. But it's not a common term and rather sounds like a literal translation for "time tracking".

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