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I am under the impression that both "das heißt" and "beziehungswiese" translate to "that is." Is there any difference between them?

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"beziehungsweise" might be better translated with "respectively" instead of "that is".

Both may be used when further explaining some subject. But whereas "das heißt" is mostly used to deepen the meaning of whatever was said before, "beziehungsweise" may in addition also be used to introduce a slightly different meaning/topic or to express an alternative or may be used as a conjunction bringing to subjects together.

For example (first explaining the subject better with both phrases):

Um die Bedeutung besser zu erklären, das heißt verständlicher
zu machen, verwendet man ein Beispiel.

Um die Bedeutung besser zu erklären beziehungsweise diese
verständlicher zu machen, verwendet man ein Beispiel.

Both translate to

To better explain the meaning, that is to be more comprehensive, it
is a good idea to use an example.

Another example using "beziehungsweise" to express an alternative:

Dienstag bzw. Mittwoch kann ich diese Arbeit erledigen

which translates to

Tuesday or (respectively) Wednesday I can do this work

A third example using "beziehungsweise" to glue together two subjects:

Die Fahrzeuge fuhren 50 bzw. 150 km/h

which means there were two vehicles, one driving at 50 kmph, the second at 150 kmph.

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  • Perhaps good to bear in mind: many users of German, especially when sitting in an office and writing official stuff, use beziehungsweise (or rather bzw.) thoughtlessly and without awareness of meaning and style. In such texts it is often just a pompous replacement of oder. Jul 12, 2017 at 9:40

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