What is the difference between the words zuerst and erste in meaning?

Can it be used interchangeably?


"Zuerst" is used as "doing something first, before something else". It can be shortened to "erst". "Erste", however, means "the first" and it can only be used if a woman is first. Therefore, these two are not interchangeable as the meaning is completely different.

  • 1
    How about Der Erste and Das Erste (First german television channel)? Does the gender really matter? Jan 26 '17 at 16:01
  • Und was ist mit "Erste Erfahrungen sammelte ..." Jan 26 '17 at 16:43

Zuerst is an adverb
Erst(-e/-es/-er/-en/-em) is a count word or maybe an adjective


For Example:

Zuerst gehe ich Milch einkaufen. --> First, I go to buy milk.

If you want to count something you have to use erste.

Das Erste, das Zweite, das Dritte.... -> The first, the second, the third.... Das erste Haus -> the first house

So erste is used as adjective.

You can exchange zuerst with als erstes to keep the same meaning in the first example.

  • 1
    "Das Erste" sieht aber ein wenig wie ein Substantiv aus. Jan 26 '17 at 16:44
  • I am wondering about the sentence: "Erst die Arbeit, dann das Spiel". (My dad always said this to me :) ) Why is it not "Zuerst"?
    – 6005
    Sep 30 '18 at 15:50

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