3

I’ve already looked over a few different examples that explained the preferred usage of one of these verbs in context. And to be honest, I already have somewhat of a clue as to when to use which. However, I thought it might be nice for the community, if one of you natives might be able to clear up the matter once and for all.

I do understand the differences between sich fühlen and anfühlen. The ones I have more trouble differentiating between are verspüren, spüren, and empfinden.

Some phrases like:

1.) Ich habe aus irgendeinem Grund den Drang wieder verspürt, mit ihr wieder einmal Kontakt aufzunehmen.

Or:

2.) Er spürte Gefahr, als er sich auf die schwach beleuchtete Straße begab.

In both contexts, it seems as if one could well translate the verbs spüren and verspüren as sense. So, in principle, something you either sense or intuit.

  • I have somewhat of an answer. However, I thought it might be nice for the community if you summarized how far you understand the different words as of now. – Roland Illig Jan 3 '17 at 23:10
8

fühlen is the most general term. It's nearly as general as English to feel, though sometimes German speakers use anfühlen instead.

(sich) anfühlen means a feeling of touch. Most times when you touch something with your fingers or you are touched at your skin but also when something touches you deep inside.

Es fühlt sich richtig an.

It feels right.

Both spüren and verspüren mean a physical feeling. You can use it for pure thought feelings, too, as an intense alternative: I feel it as if it was real. The difference between the two is the word verspüren is even more intensified. Most people would simply stumble over such an overemphasized word. It just sounds odd and doesn't add meaning.

Spüren Sie den Bohrer? – Ja. – Dann müssen wir mehr betäuben.

Do you feel the (dentist) drill? – Yeah. – We have to benumb it (the tooth) more then.

Ich spürte den Druck, der auf mir lastete.

I felt the pressure put on me.

Empfinden is seldom used. It needs a feeling you have already generalized and thought of. It can also be used to express your thought has been guided by feelings mostly.

Empfinden Sie immer noch Schmerz? — Nein, ich bin darüber hinweg.

Do you still feel the pain? — No, I'm over it.

Was denken Sie darüber? – Ich empfinde das als Zumutung.

What do you think about it? – I think of it as an imposition.

  • I don't think "verspüren" is a physical feeling. "Ich verspürte Angst, als ich mich in völliger Dunkelheit auf den Heimweg machte" sounds idiomatic to me. "Verspüren" means uncertainty. I would definitely not use it with a dentist's drill. – Roland Illig Jan 3 '17 at 23:17
  • And I didn't. Verspüren is an emphasized version of spüren. I did explain it can be used for pure thoughts, too. Your sentence would work with spüren, too. – Janka Jan 4 '17 at 0:02
  • Janka, danke für Ihren vortrefflichen Beitrag! – J.H. Roenigk Jan 6 '17 at 18:56
  • @RolandIllig: Gedanken können ja Gefühle auslösen. "Es läuft einem kalt den Rücken runter" oder "die Nackenhaare stellen sich auf" sind reale Gefühle, auch wenn der Anlass pure Einbildung sein sollte. Und diese Körperreaktionen spürt man - je nach Intensität und Aufmerksamkeit mehr oder weniger. – user unknown Jan 7 '17 at 5:37
1
  1. “spüren”, “verspüren” Both words come from Spur or track.

The prefix ver can mean in this case:

[6] eine Vorsilbe, die bestimmt, dass eine starke, schwer rückgängig zu machende Änderung auf den körperlichen oder seelischen Zustand von jemandem oder etwas einen starken Einfluss ausübt

Essentially making ver-spüren to be somewhat passive. Like if somebody hits you and you have no choice. With spüren however it is more a conscious choice. And you can choose to not do it.

  1. Fühlen literally is equivalent to feeling in English

  2. Empfinden is related to empfindlich. Which means sensitive. So Empfinden means sensing something. Being aware of something. I.e. I'm sensing pain.

  3. Anfühlen is again a compound of "an" and "fühlen"

The prefix an means:

1 an steht für eine bestimmte Richtung, ein bestimmtes Ziel, einen Zielpunkt, mit welchem etwas in Berührung kommt; einen Ort, mit dem etwas in Berührung ist, einen Zeitpunkt, eine virtuelle Richtung

So an- fühlen means feeling an object.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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