I am a little bit confused about the usage of these synonyms. Can you show some examples, please, where I can see the difference of these two adjectives meaning 'special'?

Edit: I've seen that 'bestimmt' is translated 'special' in this website enter image description here.

Based on some comments, I think there is misspelling on the website, please let me know if it is true.

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    Could you provide an example text? I would not translate bestimmt with 'special' in English. It can be used as a synonym for the german word speziell but to me the best English translation for that would be particular. I am not a native English speaker though. Dec 11, 2018 at 12:29
  • Thanks @BerndKonfuzius. I am learning online with this website quizlet.com/6151425/100-top-german-adjectives-flash-cards. Here if you go down the translation for 'bestimmt' is 'special, certain'. But 'particular' seems to match better
    – igelr
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:07
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a wrong assumption (that "bestimmt" means "special")
    – tofro
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:46
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    @tofro In certain (!) situations, both besonderer abd bestimmter can be translated as special. So what's the problem? Dec 11, 2018 at 15:00
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    Auch dict.leo.org schlägt sowohl certain, als auch special vor. Als Nichtmuttersprachler (EN) ist das auch das, was ich erwartet hätte. "Mit einem bestimmten Salz kann ich meine Kaffeemaschine entkalken." - "With a certain salt ..." oder "With a special salt ..." - wieso nicht? Dec 11, 2018 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


These examples may help you to get a feeling for the tiny difference between bestimmter and besonderer:

Er trinkt gerne Wein, aber nur bestimmten.

Meaning: he likes drinking wine, but only a certain type (sort / year / from a certain producer)

Er trinkt gerne Wein, aber nur besonderen.

Meaning: he likes drinking wine, but he wants the wine to be something special, something unusual; on the other hand, he is not fixated on one specific sort of wine (as in bestimmter Wein).


An bestimmten Tagen gehe ich essen.

I am used to eating out on certain days. This might be every Tuesday and Thursday. Or every 12th of a month, or whatever.

An besonderen Tagen gehe ich essen.

I am used to eating out on special days / days that are not average days but provide some specific reason for doing something extraordinary, e.g. a birthday or so.

Note: selecting from these two words is not a question of "correct or wrong". It is a question of "what do I want to express".


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