Is there a difference in meaning between the preterite buk, from backen, and backte?

If so what is it?



3 Answers 3


The text Backte oder buk, haute oder hieb? - Schwache oder starke Flexion by Jacqueline Kubczak (published in Sprachreport, Jg. 32 (2016), H. 4, S. 24-31) goes into great detail about backte vs. buk. Quoting its gist:

Die Formen buk/buken sind im heutigen geschriebenen Deutsch noch lebendig. Man findet sie nicht nur in literarischen, sondern auch in eher umgangssprachlich geschriebenen Texten. In der alltäglichen gesprochenen Sprache muten die starken Formen von backen aber doch altmodisch oder gestelzt an.

So, apart from the fact that buk is considered archaic in some contexts there is no difference in meaning.


For those verbs which have both a strong and a weak Präteritum form, there is generally no difference in meaning. That's true for backen et al.

Be careful however, as there are a lot of verbs which have very similar cousins:

liegen, es lag, gelegen

legen, es legte, gelegt

lügen, es log, gelogen

lugen, es lugte, gelugt

laugen, es laugte, gelaugt (auslaugen and entlaugen are meaningful)

For such verbs, you may misidentify the weak form as a modern replacement of the strong form, when it's actually two different verbs. The legen←→liegen misinterpretation is especially common as those verbs mean a very similar thing.

  • Note that that last one is especially tricky for native speakers of English, since English is in the process of losing the distinction between the homologous "lie"/"lay" as well. Aug 26, 2019 at 6:45
  • There are pairs of similar verbs where the strong one is intransitive and the weak one is transitive: Stehen/stellen, liegen/legen.
    – RHa
    Aug 26, 2019 at 8:31
  • 2
    @RHa Some more: fahren/führen, sitzen/setzen, hängen/hängen, fallen/fällen, biegen (can be both by now) / beugen (can only be transitive), erschrecken/erschrecken. Not, btw, schleifen/schliff/geschliffen and schleifen/schleifte/geschleift.
    – sgf
    Aug 26, 2019 at 9:33
  • springen/sprengen (man Kausativ)
    – Carsten S
    Aug 26, 2019 at 14:45

"buk" is just an archaic form of "backte", both are past tense of "backen"

Source: I am German

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