2

according to wiktionary:

stellen:

senkrecht, mit den Füßen den Boden, einen bestimmten Platz oder Gegenstand berührend, in eine bestimmte oder übliche Position bringen

example:

Er stellte die Vase auf den Tisch.

hinstellen

etwas an einem bestimmten Ort platzieren

example:

Sie stellt den Teller neben das Glas hin.

Still can't get a sense of when to use what. Why "to put on the table" and "to put near the glass" would assume different verbs? Can you give me more detailed explanation (more strict criteria) of what use when not only with examples

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    "Sie stellt den Teller neben das Glas hin." is bad German. To use "neben" and "hin" together is not used in general. – Thomas Jul 2 at 10:43
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    Let me take a wild guess based on the username, perhaps you're a Russian native speaker. In Russian you have a similar system where the prefix changes the meaning and where - with some exceptions - the rough meaning of the prefix is always the same. Consider: пойти, прийти, подойти ... из-, за-, над-, на- ... well, you probably know more about that than I 😉 – 0xC0000022L Jul 2 at 15:22
2

Welcome to hardcore German. "hinstellen" is usually used in two contexts:

  1. Something is to be placed to a specific location, this is 99% used together with direction specification "hier" or "dort". It is usually not used when the location is named.
  2. Something is fallen or not yet standing, it is laying. Then I use this verb to express I fix this by standing up something.

The difference is subtle but is important to know. Some examples, please ask if the translation is unclear:

  1. I stelle mich dort hin. I stelle die Tasse hier hin.
  2. I stelle den Stuhl hin. Ich stelle mich hin.

Funny fact: the word "stellen" is special, there are a lot of compounds making it hard to everyone foreign but the deeper meaning is very interesting: hinstellen, aufstellen, abstellen, einstellen, klarstellen, kaltstellen.

| improve this answer | |
  • Right, it's a versatile word which is often used metaphorically: unterstellen, unterstellen, überstellen, zustellen (2x), verstellen (2x), wegstellen, anstellen (2x), vorstellen (2x), Rückstellung, beistellen, durchstellen :-) – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 6 at 8:50
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Hin- implies a specific direction of an action, usually from the speaker away, possibly from the actor away.

I'd argue that it is most important in sentences that contain some form of jmdm. etwas hinstellen: that is like to provide sth. to so. In other sentences, it is more or less replaceable with stellen, as it is in the Wiktionary example (Sie stellt den Teller neben das Glas would also be possible).

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  • It's a bit "dangerous" to translate the sense of hinstellen with "provide", because there's also the other sense of stellen: wir stellten ihnen die Ausrüstung ( = provide) vs. wir stellten ihnen die Ausrüstung hin. Maybe "to place something for someone" would be better. – phipsgabler Jun 28 at 10:28
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    @phipsgabler I agree, I actually meant to provide sth. (to so.) which is closer to jmdm. etw. hinstellen, while to provide so. (with sth.) would in fact be closer to jmdm. etw. zur Verfügung stellen. – amadeusamadeus Jul 5 at 9:51

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