I'm trying to figure out the subtle differences between "auswirken auf" , "einwirken auf", and "wirken auf". Dictionaries tend to all point in the same direction, and that is "impact/have an impact on/etc", but I feel that there is certain emphasis that these words convey, and I'm not able to figure out the difference. Now, I think the easiest (for me) is "sich auf etwas auswirken", which means, "have an effect on". Let me then just give three examples:

  1. Der Forscher untersucht, wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft einwirkt.

  2. Der Forscher untersucht, wie sich Politik auf die Wirtschaft auswirkt.

  3. Der Forscher untersucht, wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft wirkt.

Are both sentences correct, and is there a large difference between the two? My first guess is., 1. ... how politics INfluences the economy, and 2. ...how politics impacts... but I am not quite sure. Any help appreciated!

  • I hope I didn't put too much into your mouth regarding your examples, though you are asking for 3 terms, and such I corrected your originally wrong sentence, and added that other one, where the sich makes sense. Jun 6, 2018 at 18:26
  • No, this is perfectly fine. You are right, I could have left "auswirken" out, because I feel confident in its meaning, and am more concerned the other two. I apologize for the mistake.
    – Mark
    Jun 6, 2018 at 18:34
  • I tried to give a concise answer. I am just a native German speaker, with some experienced knowledge about English though. There might be more linguistically founded answers fro that, just wait for a while. Jun 6, 2018 at 18:47
  • @Medi1Saif Warum genau? Für mich nicht. Jun 6, 2018 at 18:47
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    @Medi1Saif Und von der Politik geht nichts ein in die Wirtschaft oder wie? Warum betreiben wir dann ein Wirtschaftsministerium das den Steuerzahler ein Heidengeld kostet bitte? Jun 6, 2018 at 19:03

2 Answers 2


In fact the differences are a bit subtle, and not well distinguished using popular dictionaries (e.g. dict.leo.org 1, 2, 3).

Also Google Translate isn't very helpful with this, since all three examples will lead to the same translation as

The researcher examines how politics affects the economy.

I think that there's a subtle emphasis in German, that einwirken has a more active connotation, while auswirken or wirken doesn't express that.

I'd translate

Der Forscher untersucht, wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft einwirkt.

The researcher examines how politics influences1 the economy.


Der Forscher untersucht, wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft einwirkt.
Der Forscher untersucht, wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft wirkt.

The researcher examines how politics impacts1 the economy.

It's worth to mention, that wirken auf also means which view/impression someone leaves for anyone else, and is a term on it's own.

1)In English to influence has a stronger active connotation than to impact.

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    Thank you for this fantastic answer. Let me then ask, if we consider "...wie die Politik die Wirtschaft beeinflusst", according to my (slowly growing :) ) knowledge of German, I could translate this as "influence" as well. Is the distinction the following: 1. "..die Wirtschaft beeinflusst": Simply "influences the economy". 2. "..auf die Wirtschaft einwirkt". Like Janka suggested, how it influences/interacts with, so, emphasizing not the ending effects (as in beeinflussen), but the particular WAYS in which this change is made. Could this be correct?
    – Mark
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:07
  • @Mark Regarding the active connotation beeinflussen is the "magic word" here. Jun 6, 2018 at 19:09
  • According to this dictionary (dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/einwirken), "auf etwas einwirken=etwas beeinflussen". But you suggest that beeinflussen is more active?
    – Mark
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:26
  • @Mark If it's clear that a person or institution does it, yes. Jun 6, 2018 at 19:31
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    @Mark exert unterstreicht die aktive Konnotation nochmals, ja. Jun 6, 2018 at 21:47

Wirken means to cause an effect/to be effective:

Das Waschmittel wirkt.

Einwirken means to act upon/to interact:

Das Waschmittel muss erst einwirken.

Bewirken means to cause the primary effect:

Das Waschmittel bewirkt, dass der Schmutz sich leichter vom Stoff löst.

Auswirken means to cause a secondary effect:

Waschmittel wirken sich negativ auf die Umwelt aus.

And finally, there's the unrelated verwirken, which means to forfeit.

  • Ich dachte an mehr oder weniger dieselben Beispiele als ich die Frage las.
    – Medi1Saif
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:02
  • Politik ist ein abstraktes Thema. Was da nun genau wirkt, einwirkt, sich auswirkt, kann man kaum bestimmen. Oft bewirkt sie ja auch einfach nichts.
    – Janka
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:06
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    @Janka "Oft bewirkt sie ja auch einfach nichts." Im Beispiel geht's ja darum, genau das zu erforschen. :3 Jun 6, 2018 at 19:11
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    Thank you. So, if I say, "...wie Politik auf die Wirtschaft einwirkt.", is that then emphasizing the specific ways/channels politics "acts upon/interacts with" the economy?. For example, if somebody acts, "Wie wirkt die Maßnahme auf die Wirtschaft ein?", the answer cannot be "good" or "bad", but rather, for example it interacts/acts upon the economy because it changes a specific tax. Is this correct?
    – Mark
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:40
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    Yes, that question asks about the way or location (Wo wirkt … ein?) that measure works. Gut or schlecht is only a secondary effect, and required sich auswirken.
    – Janka
    Jun 6, 2018 at 22:17

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