I will take the B2 exam next week. There's a passage in the preparation course book 'Prüfungstraining', page 29, that reads:

"Dabei hat sie sich Traumjobs angeschaut, die machbar sind und sie auf die Diskrepanz von Wunsch und Wirklichkeit abgeklopft."

I couldn't understand what 'abgeklopft' means here. Since its dictionary definition is "1) to percuss; 2) to tap off", I can't help but think the aforementioned usage of the word is idiomatic. Also, couldn't find any example where 'abklopfen' is used with the preposition 'auf'.

2 Answers 2


Short answer: The word "abklopfen" in this context can be translated to something like "check for".

Longer answer:
The physical process of "abklopfen" is widely used in everyday life. A doctor might tap at certain areas of your body to find out if you are ill, a security guard might pat you down to check for hidden weapons, when buying fresh fruits you might tap on them to check if they are still good, you might tap on a wall/construction to hear how it sounds and to find out about its quality, etc.

This lead to the word "abklopfen" to also be used in a figurative sense when saying that you extensively check something. In this sense, it is a little similar to the proverb

Etwas auf Herz und Nieren prüfen.

which (according to my dictionary, I haven't heard the English form myself) can be translated as

To put something to the acid test.

Your sentence could thus be translated into English as

While at it, she looked at dream jobs that are doable and checked them for a gap between wish and reality.

edit: Regarding the question if it would be better to use "zwischen" here instead of "von" I would say no, the "von" is the right expression to use.
To be clear: You can use both, but "von" is, in my eyes, the better choice. Let's look at the two different terms, together with their noun "Diskrepanz" to illustrate the difference:

  1. "Zwischen" means "between", so saying "...die Diskrepanz zwischen A und B..." means that we compare A and B and find a discrepancy there. For example:

    Die Diskrepanz zwischen den prognostizierten Kosten und den tatsächlichen Kosten betrug 100 Millionen.

  2. "Von" means "of", so saying "...die Diskrepanz von A und B" would mean that A and B together form a set that has in itself a discrepancy.

Thus, you would use "zwischen" if you have two distinguished objects you are looking at, and "von" if your two objects form a strongly related set (e.g. Wunsch/Wirklichkeit, Realität/Fiktion, Tag/Nacht,...). The lines are rather blurry here and you can use either "zwischen" or "von" without anyone blaming you.

To finish, let's look at cases of "Diskrepanz" where the use is clearer:

Die Diskrepanz von 20% in der Berechnung...

Here, we have a discrepancy of 20% in our calculations and the only appropriate term is "von".

Die Diskrepanz in den Ergebnissen der Studie...

Here, we have a discrepancy (in the sense of "contradiction") in the results of a study, thus the only word that fits this case is "in".

  • one more question: wouldn't it have been better to use 'zwischen' instead of 'von'?
    – Jawad
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:32
  • 1
    I'll edit the answer accordingly.
    – Dirk
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:36
  • 2
    'abklopfen' does not imply a profound deepness of the checking but rather that the investigation deals with invisible properties of the entity under investigation - like hollow space beneath the surface. Aug 21, 2017 at 16:51

Literally, abklopfen auf would be used to detect hollows in a wall, for example, when looking for secret doors or find repaired spots in a used car you want to buy - Generally, tapping or knocking on a surface and listening to the sound in return, to find something non-obvious. The verb can be used with "auf" or "nach".

Er klopfte die Kotflügel des Gebrauchtwagens gründlich auf reparierte Stellen ab.

Die Polizei musste alle Wände des Gebäudes auf Geheimtüren abklopfen.

In your example, this is used figuratively to imply a thorough search for something. Obviously, in this case there is no real tapping going on.

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