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In English the phrase "all kinds of" is usually assumed to be an informal, hyperbolic way of saying "a large variety of", for example if I say "There are all kinds of animals in these woods," then you probably wouldn't think I mean that you can find sea slugs and penguins there. I'm wondering how this compares with "alle Arten von" and whether there is another German phrase that would be a better translation. Would it would be more accurate to drop the hyperbole and just say "viele Arten von"?

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The German equivalent is "alle möglichen Tiere", which likewise never means literally all possibilities, but just an unexpected variety.

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  • +1 wanted to tell you to answer in English, but your edit was faster than my comment ^^ – miep May 29 at 6:17
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    You could also use the word "allerlei" – maja May 29 at 7:00
  • @maja I had the same idea. Maybe you can add this as an answer as I think it's a good alternative :) – mtwde May 29 at 7:56
  • Yes allerlei is OK - I think it is better than "alle möglichen" which I mentioned together. And for plants and people. "allerlei" seems a good choice. – rastafile May 29 at 9:12
  • My literal translation of the German phrase is "every possible animal", which to me would be even more inclusive than "all kinds of animals". I guess the moral is that if the literal translations doesn't make sense then perhaps what you're translating is not meant to be taken literally. – RDBury May 29 at 10:48
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You could also translate "There are all kinds of animals in these woods" as such:

Es gibt allerlei Tiere in diesen Wäldern.

or

Es gibt allerhand Tiere in diesen Wäldern.

While they look very similar, the second one has an emphasis that there are actually a lot of animals in the woods. The first one doesn't.

Both sentences would be understood as "all kinds of animal species", even without the "species" clarification.

As a native speaker, I would use those sentences for writing. For talking, I think it's more common to use "alle möglichen Tiere" like Kilian suggested because it sounds a bit less formal, though all 3 variations are perfectly okay.

Es gibt viele Arten von Tieren in diesen Wäldern.

(from rastafile) is also good, but as he stated it's not very elegant. "Es gibt viele Tierarten in diesen Wäldern." is better.

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  • Ich finde "allerhand" hier super, und nicht umgangssprachlich wie duden sagt, höchstens ein klein wenig veraltend, vielleicht? Ich sehe gerade den Forschungsreisenden von vor 200 Jahren vor mir - aber genau das trifft den Kontext. Am Ende sagt der Zuhörer wirklich: Allerhand! – rastafile May 29 at 15:48
  • "allerhand" wird zwar schon gerne umgangssprachlich verwendet, ich denke aber das es auch in einer formelleren Situation verwendet werden kann. Veraltet würde ich nicht unbedingt sagen... höchstens dass die Verwendung im Alltag seltener geworden ist? Das ist aber eine subjektive Einschätzung, ob dem tatsächlich so ist kann ich nicht sagen. – maja May 29 at 17:14
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You should avoid "Arten von" in biological context (=species), unless you mean it. "Seltene/geschützte Arten" in plant or animal context is "rare/protected species". So in German "Viele Arten" often is unlucky, because it collides; there is "Artenvielfalt" and "artgerechte Tierhaltung", nowadays.

But try allerart:

There are all kinds of animals in these woods.

Es gibt allerart Tiere in diesen Wäldern.

Duden.de says it is "veraltend" - true, that is why I hesitate a bit.

I still think it fits nicely in this case, because suddenly the biological collision is an advantage. You can not use "Alle Arten von", so you fall back to old "allerart".


The English original could be meant more in the sense of "besides sea-slugs, you will find just about anything in these forests". With "alle möglichen" and "allerlei" it tends in this direction.

God (or: Nature) created all kinds of animals

It is not really clear what kind of "all kinds of" is, but that is here exactly the point, in Genesis as in "these woods".


According to Tristram Shandy, when you open a drawer and find more than you were expecting, you do a typical "hmph!". With allerart Tiere I try to avoid that impression a bit.


Es gibt viele Tierarten in diesen Wäldern.

This is correct, but boring (the hyperbole is dropped)

Es gibt alle Arten von Tieren in diesen Wäldern.

correct, maybe, but naive.


Es gibt mancherlei Tiere in diesen Wäldern.

I was fearing duden's "veraltend" again, but now the first definition is:

verschiedene einzelne [ins Gewicht fallende] Dinge, Arten o. Ä. umfassend

ins Gewicht fallende: that is the point. Allerart Tiere, allerlei Pflanzen, allerlei Sportarten.


The yellow-winged darter is a dragonfly found ...

Die Hufeisen-Azurjungfer ist eine Libellenart...

(from wikipedia; I deleted the latin names which define the species)

This shows the subtle difference. Google translates "Libellenart" with "type of dragonfly". I find better "kind of dragonfly". In this sentence, German is easier, auf eine Art (=in some way ;)

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  • So in a biological context 'Art' is likely to be translated as 'species', and therefore you should use some other word instead unless you actually mean a biological species. I guess 'mancherlei' or 'allerlei' could be better than 'viele Arten von', but apparently they can also be translated as 'various', which is somewhat weaker than what I was going for. It depends on the situation I guess. The English 'all kinds of' can be meant literally; to me though, unless it's in a formal setting where everything is supposed to be taken literally, it would taken figuratively. – RDBury May 29 at 11:52
  • Über die Entstehung der Arten (englisch: On the Origin of Species) I guess you can trace the confusion back to there. I realiize it sounds stronger in German. "die Art" is overloaded with "kind/sort" and "species". – rastafile May 29 at 16:27

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