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I am having a hard time with standard English-German dictionaries with figuring out "to shift something" and "to adjust/readjust something" in specific contexts.

Let me give some examples, and what I think is the correct translation:

  1. The cat shifted the vase on the table. I now need to readjust it.

    Die Katze hat die Vase auf dem Tisch umgestellt. Ich muss es jetzt richtig stellen.

  2. In order to shift the defense forward, the coach readjusted the players around on the field.

    Um die Verteidigung nach vorne zu verschieben, hatte der Trainer die Spielern auf dem Feld umgestellt.

  3. I need to shift my chair (slightly move it to a new location), and readjust it (make it higher/lower).

    Ich muss meinen Stuhl umstellen, und es einstellen.

As you can see, going from sentences 1, 2, and 3, my translations of "umstellen" go from shift to readjust and then back to shift, and so I'm not sure I really have a good grasp of "shift/adjust/readjust" in German.

1

The cat shifted the vase on the table. I now need to readjust it.

Die Katze hat die Vase auf dem Tisch verschoben. Ich muss sie nun wieder richtig hinstellen.

Verschieben means changing a position. It's often used instead of schieben, which means pushing mainly. Readjust in this case can also be translated as zurückstellen or neu aufstellen, but in this case wieder richtig hinstellen is much more idiomatic.


In order to shift the defense forward, the coach readjusted the players around on the field.

Um die Verteidigungslinie nach vorne zu verschieben stellte der Trainer die Spieler auf dem Feld um.

If you write die Verteidigung in German, you mean the defense players. But I think you mean the coach readjusted the whole team. You got it right with umstellen, but you should stick to Präteritum or Perfekt, because there isn't a dependend clause but an adverbial phrase.


I need to shift my chair, and readjust it.

Ich muss meinen Stuhl umstellen, und (ihn) neu/anders einstellen.

You got that almost right, same umstellen as before. Please note you had to use the masculine pronoun if you want to use it at all.

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    Verschieben is a physical action, while umstellen means changing the place or manner. It depends on what you want to express. – Janka May 25 '18 at 20:08
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    Consider Sie müssen ihr Auto umstellen. vs. Sie müssen ihr Auto verschieben. – No, you don't verschieben a car, at least not if it's not broken. Verschieben is still a kind of schieben. – Janka May 25 '18 at 20:14
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    Yes. Umstellen just means changing the position or manner, but it doesn't say how. – Janka May 25 '18 at 20:23
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    2. is correct, but in 1. one would use umhängen, not umstellen because pictures are usually hanging on a wall, not standing. – RHa May 27 '18 at 9:47
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    @Mark: umstellen is generally -- but not always -- used for things that can be put, "upright", i.e. are in some kind of standing position. If things are hanging, you use umhängen. If they are sitting, you can use umsetzen, and so on. But you'll have to learn, or get a feeling for when which of these words is used for making a change. – Rudy Velthuis May 27 '18 at 10:01

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