What is the difference between "geben" and "schenken"?
For example:

Er schenkt keinem Mann Geld.


Er gibt keinem Kind einen Apfel.

Both means "to give". Does it depend on the object?

  • 4
    The verb schenken does not mean to give, but to give as a present. Please throw away your current dictionary. – Janka Aug 4 '18 at 2:25
  • Also known as "to gift" ;) – ComradeMicha Aug 4 '18 at 10:55
  • Actually, @Janka, the English word "give" is really used in cases where we would say "schenken" in German. I remember trying to return a book to someone, to which he answered: "No, I gave it to you." "Nein, ich habe es dir geschenkt". So this is really a valid question. – elena Aug 6 '18 at 8:52
  • It's the same in German. Schenken is just more explicit. That's why I wrote throw away the dictionary not making a difference between the two. Because that's the exact purpose of a dictionary. – Janka Aug 6 '18 at 8:56

The verb geben means: to give (anything).
The verb schenken means: to give a present.

Schenken also almost always means, that the owner of the given object is changing, which is not necessarily true for geben.


Der Lehrer gibt den Schülern eine Aufgabe.
The teacher gives the students a task.

The task is not a present, and the students do not become owner of the task. They just get it from the teacher.

Martin schenkt seiner Frau einen Strauß Blumen.
Martin gives his wife a bouquet of flowers.

The flowers are a present. When Martin gave them to his wife they became a property of his wife.

Der Blumenbinderlehrling gab seinem Chef einen Strauß Blumen.
The flower-arranger apprentice gave his boss a bouquet of flowers.

The apprentice is learning how to make a bouquet, and when he finished his work, he gave it to his boss, so that the boss could check, if the bouquet was ok. So in this case, the bouquet is not a present, and therefore you have to use a form of geben instead a form of schenken.

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