Ive been having difficulties with translating the phrase "count towards" into German. In particular, it seems like the more common way of expressing this may be some application of "zählen zu", but all I can find in a dictionary is the word "anrechnen", which (I could be wrong) seems a bit awkward in everyday use. For example:

  1. This course will not count towards your degree.

  2. I told my son we had to stay for at least an hour at the museum. He responded by asking whether or not the time spent in line counted towards that hour. (He did not want to be there).

Now, as a translation, it SEEMS that the following should be allowed:

  1. Dieser Kurs wird auf das Diplom nicht angerechnet.

  2. Die Zeit in der Schlange wird nicht auf die Stunde angerechnet.

The second translation just seems weird to me, as it doesn't seem like a small child would speak. On the other hand, using "zählen zu" in the above seem more natural, but all I can find in my dictionaries is "zählen zu" as being translated as being "counted among". Could anybody provide any help here, and maybe describe the difference between these two terms? Thanks!


  • (1/2) I think a small child just would ask something like "Ist die Stunde mit oder ohne dem Anstehen" (this isn't good german, but you said it's a small child) or "Eine Stunde ab jetzt?" (in the case that you're in the line atm). Beside that your second sentence is completly fine, it just sounds rather formal. In regards of the degree example I would like to get more information, because I believe there is a logical mistake that makes it sound odd. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 23:15
  • (2/2) E.g. if you speak about ECTS credits which get angrechnet it's wrong to say that they get angrechnet to the Diplom since they get angrechnet to your overall points for your studies but not to the Diplom itself. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 23:15
  • Thank you very much! In terms of your question regarding the degree, in the US, in order to get an undergraduate degree, you need to fulfill a certain amount of courses. However, not all courses count towards a specific degree (for example, a math class will not "go towards" the requirements of a history degree). Does this makes sense?
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 2:50
  • The child-speak equivalent of "count towards" would be "zählen für". I admit that it still sounds a bit weird in the second example though ("Zählt das für die Stunde?"), so not a full answer.
    – Annatar
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 5:57
  • I understand. I think in that case you can say "Dieser Kurs wird auf das Diplom nicht angerechnet.". It sounds abit too imprecise for me, but I think that's just me and not the 'common german sense'. Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


Zählen zu and rechnen zu means recognizing someone or something is part of a group. A common alternative is gehören zu.

Der Blauwal zählt zu den Säugetieren.

The blue whale (as such) is counted among mammals.

Man zählt/rechnet den Blauwal zu den Säugetieren.

One counts the blue whale among mammals.

Thomas gehört zu den Frühaufstehern.

Thomas is counted among the early birds.

You cannot use anrechnen here.

Because anrechnen in contrary means subtracting something from a larger whole.

Beim Fußball zählen Unterbrechungen zur Spielzeit.

Beim Fußball werden Unterbrechungen auf die Spielzeit angerechnet.

In soccer time-outs are accounted to the total game time.

Sometimes the subtraction is well hidden:

Ich rechne dir das hoch an.

I give you high credit on this.

Small childs would use neither of these but instead mitzählen.

Das Warten zählt aber mit!

The waiting (time) does count, too!

Of course, adults can use this too in a less formal context. It sounds a bit childish, though.

  • "Counts among" is quite different from "counts towards", though. Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 17:35
  • Yes, my answer bottom-ups the question.
    – Janka
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 17:50

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