I looked on LEO for the perfect form of 'verwenden', but it says 'verwendet/verwandt'.

The same thing also applies in the preterite.

Why are there two different words to mean 'used'?

  • 1
    I guess there is some historical linguist who can explain why these two forms exist. But I doubt that knowing the answer would be of much practical value. – RHa Jan 6 '18 at 18:55

In the corresponding entry to the word stem wenden the Grimm dictionary states the following:

Während das Niederländische [...] den 'Rückumlaut' der Präteritalformen durch Ausgleich beseitigt hat, herrscht im Neuhochdeutsch Doppelformigkeit: wandte, wendete; gewandt, gewendet [..] wendete oder wandte [...]. Beim Partizip ist diese bereits im Althochdeutsch (giwant [...] neben unsynkopiertem und daher umgelautetem giwentit [...]) zu beobachten; beim Präteritum hingegen breiten sich die Umlautformen erst im spätmittelalterlichen Deutsch aus, vor allem im Oberdeutschen [...]. In Luthers Bibelübersetzung finden sich nebeneinander [...]: wand- (89 %), wendet- (11 %); gewand (68 %), gewendet (32 %).

They describe the loss of irregular forms for wenden as a loss of the Rückumlaut, a concept that today is disputed but kept for practical reasons.

According to this the irregular wordforms for wenden (wandt, gewandt) were only partly lost over time. They also state that for the past participle this already took part in Old High German (giwentit, giwant) and was further passed on in medieval German and by Luthers translation of the Holy Bible.

In compound nouns we also see this duality (e.g. Aufwand, Aufwendung - Bewandtnis, Bewenden - Einwand, Einwendung - Verwendung, Verwandte) but there the meaning will be different.

  • I think you do not say explicitly whether they can be used interchangeably. – Carsten S Jan 6 '18 at 22:35

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