I have been trying to learn to read some mathematics in German. I have come across the words "enthalten" and "erhalten," which I think both mean "to contain." Is there a difference in their meaning or usage?

Furthermore, how do these words difference from "gehörin," "bestehen" and "besitzen?"

  • 2
    The verb erhalten means to receive. Please use a dictionary first, and ask specific questions if you do not understand the use of the words in a mathematical context. Also ask one question at a time.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 3, 2017 at 16:26
  • There is no German word »gehörin«. Maybe you mean »gehören«? You very easily can find all meanings by consulting a dictionary. For example: dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/erhalten Jul 3, 2017 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Enthalten is german for contains, but it's what normaly is called 'in' in english mathematical texts (latex \in). E.g. for elements in a set. Erhalten is german for receive, but in mathematicaly texts it's normaly used for the expressions 'result of' or 'results' (then obviously with a slightly different formulation then in english).

  • gehörin <- this isn't any expression used in mathematical german.
  • bestehen <- Normaly only used as bestehen-aus. It means "composed of" never "consist of" in mathematical german
  • besitzen <- used for 'has the property'

It's meant as a small book for beginners of proofing, but since it's just a compilation of all of this mathematical expressions and how to use them I guess it's the best book out there for you: Das ist o. B. d. A. trivial!: Tipps und Tricks zur Formulierung mathematischer Gedanken. It's abit expensive for such a small book, but you find all basics in them with the obvious expection of german names for mathematical structures and algorithms, for those you normaly can just type them into the german wikipedia.

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