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I have a question, what is the difference between "einzeichnen" and "zeichnen". It is really confusing and my teacher says there is no difference between the two words, they are not used the same. Can you explain?

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As the prefix "ein" means into einzeichnen means to draw into/onto something already existing.

Ex:

Ein Kreuz auf einer Karte einzeichnen.

You can usually replace "einzeichnen" with "zeichnen" but not the other way around.

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I consider the example above not quite correct. I think it should rather be

„Ein Kreuz auf / in einer Karte einzeichnen.

I would use „einzeichnen“ for graphically adding something to a given structure, map or sketch.

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The difference is not so much in the actual meaning of the verb. It is mostly in the situation where you use it:

Good (well-formed) sentences are

Zeichnen

Ich zeichne eine Skizze mit Kreidestiften.

Er zeichnet einen Akt.

Zeichne mir mal ein Kuh und ein Pferd!

These are chiefly artistic activities.

Einzeichnen

Der Architekt zeichnet eine Tür in die Wand ein.

Kannst du hier mal ein Blumenbeet einzeichnen?

Zeichne hier mal eine Schnittlinie ein.

These are chiefly technical activities, in both examples technical personnel is drawing plans. I could not find other examples (from the top of my head) for the use of einzeichnen but such technical things where technicians draw a certain element or detail into some plan are drawing. (This doesn't mean that other examples weren't possible, but I could not come up with one now.)

Still the Architekt zeichnet a plan.

Der Architekt zeichnen einen Bauplan. Dann zeichnet er noch den Lageplan dazu. Die vertikalen Schnitte lässt er von seinem Assistenten zeichnen.

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  • @infinitezero I did not claim that it is. I just was not able to find an example for einzeichnen in areas other than technical. If you have one, go ahead! – Christian Geiselmann Mar 23 at 12:03

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