What is the difference between anlegen and erstellen? I have read the statement

unser Gehirn ist dafür angelegt

Would it be wrong to say the following?

unser Gehirn ist dafür erstellt


2 Answers 2


As a native speaker, the second example would imply that someone / something was actively involved in the brain creation.

However, I personally would say

unser Gehirn ist dafür ausgelegt


Probably no native speaker would use either of those in that context.

I would disagree with the previous answers, as I can say "Ich habe eine Liste angelegt" ("I made a list"), which is me being actively involved in its creation.

According to the Duden, "Anlegen" means that you create a structure or structured thing. For example a statistic, a document or a stash of something. It would not be used when talking about creating a die for example. "Anlegen" is not usually used for the creation of physical structures.

"Erstellen" leans more towards actual creation, but is still a bit abstract and imprecise. It means you created something without specifying the process. For example, lets take the creation of a figure. "Ich habe eine Figur erstellt" means "I created a figure". One would not say "Ich habe eine Figur angelegt". As it is a physical object that one has created.

That being said, its imprecise. "Ich habe eine Figur gezeichnet" would mean you drew a figure. "Ich habe eine Figur gebastelt" would mean you hand crafted a figure. "Ich habe eine Figur geschnitzt" would mean you carved a figure. All precise regarding the means of creation. Now if you said "Ich habe eine Figur erstellt", created, then that could mean any of the above.

Now in the context of what our brain is made for, one would probably go with "gemacht" or "ausgelegt", which would imply that that's the purpose our brain was made for. It has been made with that goal/functionality in mind. "ausgelegt" leans more towards, its what your brain is adapted to do. It has evolved its functionality in a specific direction, or an existing concept has been refined to function better for a specific task or a specific environment. "gemacht" leans more towards something being created for a specific purpose from the moment it has been thought of. But mostly these two can be used interchangeable in this context.

  • 1
    Ein Gärtner kann also kein Beet anlegen oder ist ein Beet kein physisches Ding? Des Weiteren kann ein Rennrad nicht für Hallenrennen ausgelegt sein, weil es absichtsvoll dafür entworfen wurde? Jan 15, 2020 at 6:59
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    Ja es gibt Grauzonen. Es sind Synonyme aber doch wissen wir aus dem täglichen Sprachgebrauch als Muttersprachler, dass es an einigen Stellen merkwürdig klingt. Das mit dem Beet ist z.B. so eine Grauzone aber da könnte man argumentieren dass es nicht "erstellt" wird, weil es nicht aus mehreren Bestandteilen zusammengebaut wird. Es ist eine Umstrukturierung der Erde für einen Zweck. Bei dem Rennrad muss ich dir recht geben, ich werd meine Antwort entsprechend anpassen wenn ich Zeit hab. Jan 15, 2020 at 11:39

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