Je means per, nach means to.

How can je nach mean depending on? What is the logic? Or is there any?

  • 4
    "nach means to" There are more meanings for nach. Aug 9 '19 at 6:14
  • Specifically, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nach#Preposition, meaning 4.
    – bers
    Aug 9 '19 at 6:16
  • What is your example sentence? Something like Je nach Appetit mache ich mir ein Käsebrot oder stelle mich an den Herd?
    – guidot
    Aug 9 '19 at 8:36

»Nach« also has other meanings:

In a restaurant, in the menu you sometimes can read things like this:

  • Gratinierter Fisch
    nach Art des Hauses

The phrase »nach Art des Hauses« can be translated as "house style" or "home made". It means, that the chef of the restaurant has developed his own recipe, and that you will get this fish nowhere else prepared like here.

So, »nach« can indicate a special kind of doing something.

Der Fisch schmeckt unterschiedlich, je nach Zubereitung.
The fish tastes different per each kind of preparation.


There are much more meanings of "nach" (je nach Kontext, i.e. depending on context) like

after, for, to, on, ...

In bin auf der Suche nach Antworten.
I'm in search of answers.

Er hat die Stadt nach Osten hin verlassen.
He left the town toward east.

Es ist 10 Minuten nach 9 Uhr.
It is 10 past 9.

Please consult sites like dict.leo.org.

Also je has other translations:

Je größer, desto besser.
The bigger, the better.

Warst du je in China?
Have you ever been in China?

  • 1
    The last example „warst du je in China“ is incorrect. In this case, „je“ is the shortened version of jemals, which is a different word than „je“ with a totally different meaning.
    – Snailshell
    Aug 9 '19 at 8:34
  • 1
    @Snailshell: A word that is a shortened version of another word is still a word. And a sentence, that uses this short word, still is a correct sentence. So, »warst du je in China« is an absolutely correct German sentence. You also can interpret this usage of je as a synonym of überhaupt (Warst du überhaupt in China?) which does not work as well with the long word jemals. See also Bedeutung 1 in de.wiktionary.org/wiki/je#Adverb Aug 9 '19 at 11:11
  • 1
    @snailshell that's not helpful. jemals is more or less a combination je + mal + -s; je in china is likely not an elipses, as much as nie isn't eliding niemals, and it's likely the original form. -mals fills the slot in preverbial positions that in takes here, or ge- in hast du je geliebt; this does leave no usecase for jemals as far as I'm concerned, except perhaps er hat nie mals wollen, a form not current in the north; cp Ersttäter, erstmaligetäter but not erste Täter.
    – vectory
    Aug 9 '19 at 15:24

Because „je“ and „nach“ can imply that things are different, like different sort of categories, so that is why „je nach“ says „depending on (the characteristic / category)“. „Je“ is also often used as a short form for „jeweils“, though it would be grammatically incorrect to exchange those without changing other parts of the sentence.

A few examples: „Nimm dir einen Apfel je Sorte“ - implies that there are different apples (and you should take one of each)

„Die Äpfel sind sortiert nach Farbe“ - the apples are sorted by color

„magst du Äpfel?“ - „je nach Sorte“ -> the answer implies both that there are different kinds of apples, and that you have varying opinions on those.

This is way too formal, but basically „je nach Sorte“ says: „wenn ich Äpfel nach Sorten kategorisiere, habe ich jeweils andere Meinungen.“

Another example: „gehst du gerne Laufen?“ - „je nach Wetter“: there are different weathers to consider (=nach Wetter) and you have different preferences for each (=je(weils)) depending on how much you would like to be outside under those weather conditions.


"Je" and "nach" can have very different meanings. It all depends on context.

  1. For instance, if someone says "Je nachdem." he probably means "It
  2. If you say "100 Dollar je Stück", it means "100$ per item" or "100$ apiece".
  3. It could also mean "ever" like in "Wirst du dich je ändern?" = "Will you ever change?".

"nach" has also a lot of different meaning depending on context.

  1. "nach" = "after" (like in "after supper" = "nach dem Abendessen")
  2. "nach" = "as per" or "according to" (like in "nach Ihrer Aussage" = "according to you")
  3. "nach" = "towards" ("nach Hamburg" = "towards Hamburg")
  4. "nach" = "like" ("nach Rosen duften" = "smell like roses")

It is not uncommon for words to change meaning on context. Every language I know behaves this way, German and also English are no exception. Just look at the verb "to depend (on)". It can mean "abhängig sein von jemand oder etwas" or, if followed by "whether" it would mean "darauf ankommen (ob)".

Words do not always have the same meaning. Sometimes they change meaning because of other words, sometimes they just change because of different time or location. Sometimes they just change because the intention of the writer or speaker has changed (ie. irony). ;)

  • 2
    This does not seem to answer the question at all. Aug 9 '19 at 7:18
  • Yes, it does. .
    – javafx_ing
    Aug 9 '19 at 10:31
  • You are talking only separately about »je« and »nach«. Nowhere in your posting you addressed the phrase »je nach«. I can't see an explanation of the meaning of »je nach« in yout posting. So, you posting is not an answer of the question. Aug 10 '19 at 2:31

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