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What is the difference between the two adjectives "nützlich" and "sinnvoll", when both of them mean "useful"? Could you please give some examples?

  • More or less the same as the difference between useful/beneficial and meaningful. – Rudy Velthuis Nov 7 '18 at 20:00
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As often in German, you can to split those two words into their pieces and analyze what they are about:

nützlich — es ist von Nutzen → it's of benefit/advantage

sinnvoll — es ist voller Sinn → it's full of reason

Most times, things that are full of reason tend to be beneficial so you can use those two words interchangably. There is a difference about plan and outcome, however:

Mein Plan ist sinnvoll. – Gut.

Mein Plan ist nützlich. – Wofür?

Dieser sinnvolle Plan war sehr nützlich. – Gut.

Dieser nützliche Plan war sehr sinnvoll. – Hä?

A fixed phrase you may encounter:

Mach dich mal nützlich! (Come on, help us!)

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