In American English we prefer to say "meet with (someone)" when we are already familiar with that person. For example, "He met with his mother and father for lunch on Saturday." On the other hand, you would say "He met his wife in Puerto Rico" if he met his wife there for the first time.

Do we find this same idiom in German? For example, if you wanted to say "I met with my friends today", would you say Ich traf heute mit meinen Freunden? And if you wanted to say, "I met with Tom and Jane today," (assuming that Tom and Jane are familiar) would you say Ich traf heute mit Tom und Jane?

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    The point here is that to meet is overloaded with the sense of to make someone's acquaintance, and the with disambiguates, but the equivalents in other languages are not overloaded in this way. Sep 29, 2017 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Not quite: There are two variants of the word in German.

jemanden treffen

This can be a planned or an unplanned encounter, although it is rather the latter.

For the described meaning of "to meet someone", you would usually add "zum ersten Mal", as in "jemanden zum ersten Mal treffen" (and again, this can be planned or unplanned). Alternatively, you could use "jemanden kennenlernen".

The word "jemandem begegnen" is more or less a synonym, leaning even stronger towards the unplanned encounter.

sich mit jemandem treffen

This has the exclusive meaning of being planned. It underlines that the meeting is something that all involved actively participate in.


The figurative meaning from the English expression "to be met with something" is not present in German. Instead, the word "reagieren" could be used:

The announcement was met with criticism by the audience.


Das Publikum reagierte mit Kritik auf die Ankündigung.

Some impersonal forms ("... rief kritische Reaktionen hervor", "... wurde kritisch aufgenommen", ...) are possible, as well.

And lastly, while German uses the anglicism "das Meeting" for a business meeting (as a synonym of "die Besprechung", and maybe also some other kinds of work-related meetings depending on context), the above variants of "treffen" are also used as a verb in that context (beside compound forms like "ein Meeting haben").

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    For the sake of completeness: in case of to meet the requirements you wouldn't use the above but die Anforderungen erfüllen, den Anforderungen entsprechen, or anforderungsrecht sein
    – Lars Beck
    Sep 29, 2017 at 10:14
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    Actually "begegnen" can mean "to be met with something". You can say "Der Ankündigung begegnete das Publikum mit Kritik."
    – kapex
    Sep 29, 2017 at 10:17
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    You also can say "Die Ankündigung stieß beim Publikum auf Kritik", or, but rarely, "Die Ankündigung traf auf ein überwiegends kritisches Publikum." Sep 29, 2017 at 10:27
  • Ich finde es fragwürdig, auf die zwei Wörter "jemanden treffen" eine Annahme zu bauen, wie wahrscheinlich das Treffen geplant war. Ich werde heute Claudia treffen. Ich will den Gitarristen von Brooklyn Bridge treffen. Ich treffe hier meinen Dealer. ... Sep 30, 2017 at 3:12

You can indeed use mit in this context to mean 'meet (up) with'; however, treffen would need to be used reflexively: Ich traf mich mit meinen Freunden or Ich traf mich mit Tom und Jane.

As a side note, in your second example ('He met his wife in Puerto Rico'), where 'meet' means 'make the acquaintance of,' you would use, e.g., kennenlernen, not treffen.

  • That's good to know about the reflexive part. Which would you say is more common to convey a familiar meeting: using treffen reflexively with mit, or using treffen alone?
    – ktm5124
    Sep 29, 2017 at 16:21
  • Oder: "Ich traf meine Freunde", "Ich traf Tom und Jane". Sep 30, 2017 at 3:04

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