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Was ist der Unterschied zwischen „rufen“ und „anrufen“?

Both rufen and anrufen mean to call, so what is the difference between the two apart from anrufen being a trennbar verb?

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  • There's a big difference, you probably didn't catch all available translations well. May 19, 2019 at 17:43

2 Answers 2

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The main difference is, that Anrufen always needs another person/object.

Most people will use the verb anrufen, in the meaning of to give somebody a call (via telephone), while rufen is used for calling or shouting in general.

Anrufen can be used when you are shouting at someone like in Duden's example

der Wachposten rief ihn an

in the meaning, that a guard shouts at someone (to get his/her attention).

or when you are asking for help, most likely a deity

Gott um Hilfe anrufen


Rufen on the other Hand doesn't need another person. It can be just an action

In den Wald hineinrufen

Ich rufe nach Hilfe

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Rufen is a mode of using your voice, louder than speaking and often "sung", with a drop of a minor third between syllables ("Rufterz"). As such, the verb can be used intransitively; but it can also have different types of objects.

  1. Die Kinder riefen laut. (intransitive)
  2. Das Publikum rief seinen Namen. (transitive)
  3. Der Nachbar rief die Polizei. (transitive)
  4. Man rief nach einem Arzt. (with prepositional object)

In 2., the accusative denotes what is being shouted; in 3., it specifies who is being called and asked to approach. With a prepositional object as in 4., the verb has the meaning of requesting, demanding. It can also be used figuratively: Viele riefen nach strengeren Kontrollen. (The difference between 3. and 4. might not be obivous at first: 3. requires an actual call to be made, 4. could involve shouting in the air or discussing a course of action.)

Anrufen means contacting someone and is therefore "semantically transitive". Currently, this mostly refers to phone calls (but it can still refer to contacting gods and asking them for help: die Götter anrufen). Note that the accusative object is often omitted: Da hat wieder jemand angerufen.

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