When writing IT German, I try find the balance between using accepted German words (e.g. Festplatte instead of Harddrive even though anyone reading the text would understand Harddrive) but not using the German translation if it sounds odd (e.g. use Laptop instead of Klapprechner).

But the following use of the English verb to upgrade sounds too “Denglish” to me:

Wenn der Kunde auf 7.2 upgradet, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.

What would be a way to make this sentence sound less Denglish and more native German without sounding odd?

  • are you asking about update or upgrade? Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:03
  • @XeoffBaloch Why do you ask this? First, the question clearly states upgrade. Second, do you really expect a response of the OP after eight years? Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 16:32
  • To my ear it sounds perfectly right. Compare German downloaden.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 17:45

10 Answers 10


You might use aktualisieren:

Wenn der Kunde das Programm auf Version 7.2 aktualisiert, braucht er keine neue Lizenz.

Note that I added the a noun das Programm here. Without it or the name of the special program, it sounds incomplete.

  • 1
    Wiktionary entry Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 21:23
  • 12
    Diese Antwort ist nicht richtig, denn "aktualisieren" ist nicht mit upgrade gleich zu setzen! Auch ein Update ist eine aktualisierung. Die Begriffe Update und Upgrade sind in Verbindung mit Software inzwischen sehr gut eingeführt.
    – blindfold
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 8:56
  • 1
    … und auch fehlerhaft, weil jetzt plötzlich "… keine neue Lizenz." mehr benötigt wird. Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 21:00

To add another suggestion that avoids English loanwords:

Für die neue Version 7.2 ist [auch] eine neue Lizenz erforderlich.

If we don’t use the verb but the well established noun Upgrade it all of the sudden sounds alright:

Für ein Upgrade auf Version 7.2. benötigen unsere Kunden eine neue Lizenz.

Language purists who want to remove all loanwords from German may say:

Um die Anwendung auf den Stand der Ausgabe 7.2. zu bringen, benötigt ein Kunde eine neue Betriebsgenehmigung.

But this should be avoided as it will lead to hardly comprehensible constructs.

When dealing with computing there is absolutely nothing wrong with using well established English loanwords like Computer, Software, Update, Upgrade.

However in case we decide to use the French loanword aktualisieren we should not be tempted to say Softwareaktualisierung.

  • Für Menschen die nie Englisch gelernt haben ist Upgrade unverständlich. Was ist - wo wir dabei sind - der Unterschied zum Update? Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 1:19
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    @userunknown: Die Wikipedia liefert eine Unterscheidung, der ich mich persönlich anschließen würde: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Update#Abgrenzung Also: Beim Sprung von Versionsnummer 7.1 auf 7.2 handelt es sich um ein Update, beim Wechsel von 7.2 auf 8.1 um ein Upgrade. Wobei man damit dann zu der Frage kommt, wie man richtig Versionsnummern vergibt.
    – 0x6d64
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:20
  • 5
    Upgrade impliziert einen erweiterten Funktionsumfang - dieses Konzept kann man keinesfalls mit einem Update gleichsetzen, das Probleme bei der Nutzung des bestehenden Funktionsumfang beseitigt bzw. Fehler korrigiert. Die Versionierung ist hierbei eine reine etikettierung ohne inhaltliche Aussagekraft (eine solche hätte zb. die 'buildnummer' - ein einfacher Zähler, der die zeitliche Abfolge von veröffentlichen softwareständen spiegelt). Die von allem unabhängige Lizenz definiert nur Nutzungsrechte. Insb. gibt es Upgrades/Updates ohne neue Lizenz und neue Lizenzen ohne Update/Upgrade.
    – collapsar
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:03
  • 1
    "But this should be avoided as it will lead to hardly comprehensible constructs." - absolutely! I for one wouldn't understand a "Betriebsgenehmigung" refers to a license, for instance. Instead, I'd wonder at which municipal, state, or federal office I can apply for such a permit. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 15:14

Upgrade is different from an update … so aktualisieren is not the correct answer.

Both words (Upgrade and Update) are established in the german language — especially when you are talking/writing about software. The noun Upgrade is way better than use of the verb upgraden. Both forms are widely used and understood.

What makes the sentence sound “Germish” is the translation of the if … then … form. Though it is possible to translate it with Wenn … — it doesn’t always fit.

Für ein Upgrade auf die Version 7.2 ist eine neue Lizenz erforderlich.

I suggest to avoid to use der Kunde, unser Kunde, die Kunden and unsere Kunden if this text is addressed to the client.

  • 1
    If you want to avoid "Upgrade", you can use "Für die neue Version 7.2 ist..." -- same meaning, easy to understand.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 16:55
  • 2
    There's really no big difference in the common usage between "upgrading" or "updating to a newer version" because a new version often implies new features, improvements, patches and keeping the program up to date in general. So the German "aktualisieren" works fine for both words in this particular context unless each term is specifically defined to mean different things in the documentation.
    – stillenat
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 12:47

English verbs are problematic in German because conjugating them according to German rules may sound slightly odd — though probably more so to English speakers than to German speakers. A common work-around is to use the corresponding English noun:

Wenn der Kunde den/einen Upgrade auf 7.2 durchführt, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.

In practice though, I believe updaten and upgraden is what most people really say colloquially. Aktualisieren and Upgrade durchführen is then what it becomes in writing through self-censorship or editing. (I won’t deny that a lot of people speak like that, too.)


Your question is based on the assumption that there was anything wrong with using upgraden as a German verb. I disagree with that. It follows a very common pattern of using foreign-language verbs in German: use the foreign stem, add a German verb ending and apply a German conjugation pattern. Amongst tons of other examples compare for instance

  • probieren (from Latin probare)
  • promenieren (from French (se) promener)

While verbs from romanic languages often get the suffix -ieren to replace the romanic suffix, verbs loaned from English are regularly used with the -en suffix. Compare for instance

  • skypen (from the brand name of the voice-over-ip-service Skype) as in Wann können wir mal wieder skypen?
  • framen (from English to frame) as in Es gefällt mir gar nicht, wie Sie diesen Text framen.
  • downloaden (from English to download) as in Ich habe mir das Programm downgeloadet
  • grinden (from English to grind) as in Grinden ist ein Fachausdruck aus der Skateboard-Szene.
  • adden (from English to add) as in Ich habe dich als Freund auf Facebook geaddet.
  • liken (from English _to like) as in Schon 100 Leute haben mein neues Profilbild geliket!

So, I would say the perfect way to express this sentence is indeed

Wenn der Kunde auf 7.2 upgradet, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.

Most of the verbs which have been proposed such as hochgehen, aktualisieren, aufrüsten are not common and sound more strange than upgraden. Also the attempts to replace the verb upgraden by the noun Upgrade and some semantically weak German verb like durchführen are not common and sound rather bureaucratic.


Colloquial, but possible:

Wenn der Kunde auf Version 7.2 geht, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.

  • 3
    ... auf Version 7.2 wechselt würde ich schlucken, aber geht? Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 1:20
  • 2
    @userunknown: Es kommt nicht drauf an, was Du schluckst oder nicht. Ich arbeite in der Branche und wir verwenden "gehen" jeden Tag. "wechseln" geht natürlich auch. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 1:26
  • 1
    In welcher Branche, Deutsche Sprache? Das ist ja nun keine Legitimation. Es gibt Leute, die arbeiten in der Regierung, ... Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 1:49

"Aufrüsten" is what you are looking for, if Version 7.2 is an upgrade and not an Update.

  • 3
    aufrüsten is not common for upgraden, and it bears associations to the military domain. Hence I consider this answer wrong and give -1
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 17:44

"Für das Upgrade auf Version 7.2 wird eine neue Lizenz benötigt" or "Für das Upgrade [...] benötigen Sie [...]".

In my opinion, it is not problematic to use anglicisms in German. It is especially common in IT and business, but one needs to develop a feeling for when it is appropriate and when it is not. "Upgrade" and "Update" are very established words nowadays. Try not to use English verbs in German, though, as that causes problems with conjugation. In spoken German, English verbs are sometimes used and English nouns are often used.


The closest german word for upgrade would be hochstufen IMHO, but that sounds very strange with a hint of a big electrical machine in the background, nobody uses this in the context of software.

Aktualisieren is not bad, although the meaning is rather update than upgrade, meaning bringing it to the newest version, while upgrade has that other meaning to bring it to a higher level.

  • 1
    It may sound somewhat milittary, but my guess was: "Wenn der Kunde auf 7.2 hochrüstet, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.". In German you can umrüsten, hochrüsten, abrüsten...
    – U. Windl
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:06

Keeping "Upgrade", maybe replace "das Upgrade" with "die Version":

Wenn der Kunde das Upgrade 7.2 einspielt, braucht er eine neue Lizenz.

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