Which fits better at the end of this sentence, erhöht or gestiegen, and why?

In den letzten Jahren haben sich die seelischen Leiden am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent erhöht/gestiegen.

  • 1
    Have you tried looking up the two words in a dictionary and drawing your own conclusions? – Christian Geiselmann Nov 22 '18 at 11:07
  • Naturally I did. They both seem to mean increased by or rose by. Do you know if one of these words is a better fit? Would appreciate any help. Thanks. – KateW Nov 22 '18 at 11:20
  • 1
    Please avoid greetings, begging for answers and thanks in your questions. This is the common sense on the whole platform, but feel invited. – user unknown Nov 23 '18 at 3:28

Your sentence may be phrased either

In den letzten Jahren haben sich die seelischen Leiden am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent erhöht.


In den letzten Jahren sind die seelischen Leiden am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent gestiegen.

There is no difference in meaning. You would select the verb e.g. for reasons of rhythm or to avoid repetition from previous sentences.

Some observations regarding style

The answer above focuses on correct syntax. However, both solutions are problematic in terms of style and logic.

Your sentence seems to appear in some sort of scientific report or newspaper article. In such a context, language needs to be precise and sticking to semantical logic.

In German you would not say that seelische Leiden steigen, because what you actually mean is (I suppose) that it is the number of registered cases (of mental diseases or problems) that rose.

Also it would be very unusual to speak of seelische Leiden in this context, as this is a term rather from poetry or novel writing, and you are dealing here with science in some form, so you would rather speak of psychische Probleme, psychische Störungen, psychische Auffälligkeiten, psychische Beschwerden, psychiatrische Störungen etc. (each of them refering to slightly different things, depending on what you actually mean). I cannot know what you actually wanted to say, but good sentences would be for example

In den letzten Jahren hat sich die Zahl von Fällen psychischer Beschwerden am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent erhöht.

In den letzten Jahren ist die Zahl der Fälle psychischer Beschwerden am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent gestiegen.

In den letzten Jahren ist die Zahl psychischer Erkrankungen am Arbeitsplatz um 70 Prozent gestiegen.

Note that in these sentences it is the number (Zahl) of diseases that rose, not the diseases (Leiden) as such. At least in German, steigen is nothing a Leiden could do. A Leiden can abnehmen or stärker werden, but these refer to its intensity, not to the number of cases.

Another issue is that a foggy expression such as in den letzten Jahren does not play well with precise data such as 70 Prozent. If you give an exact percentage, you should give also an exact reference point e.g.

In den Jahren seit 2012 ist die Zahl registrierter Fälle arbeitsplatzbezogener psychischer Beschwerden um 70 Prozent gestiegen.

This would be a a sentence of impeccable semantical logic and scientifical precision. As such, it is good for an expert auditory. For a more general everyday newspaper reader, it is a bit too heavy. You have to find a compromise between readability and precision suiting your topic, your context and your auditory. - The reference year (2012) could of course be omitted if mentioned earlier in the text.

Of course, these are intricacies of style. Ordinary native speakers would not necessarily be able to point out these issues of style and expression. Professional writers however, such as newspaper editors, would.


The both more or less mean the same, but differ a bit how you express the initiator of the rising (just like to raise and to rise in English):

Steigen ("to rise") places the actor in the subject of the sentence, so the thing that rise does it by itself.

Der Ballon steigt.

Der Wasserstand ist gestiegen.

Erhöhen ("to raise") can use an external actor (a)(that is, someone else increases) or is reflexive (b), in which case it behaves like steigen. Different to English, erhöhen can be used reflexively, and mean rise:

Die Regierung hat schon wieder die Steuern erhöht. (a)

Die Steuern haben sich schon wieder erhöht. (b)

Obviously, if you cannot identify or don't want to express a cause or an actor, you wouldn't use (a).

Bei Flut steigt der Meeresspiegel.

Bei Flut wird der Meeresspiegel erhöht.


Bei Flut erhöht sich der Meeresspiegel.

And you would generally rather use steigen.

  • 1
    Or short: erhöht = someone did it, gestiegen = happend on its own. – Christian Geiselmann Nov 22 '18 at 12:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.