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In chemistry, there is a term called "limit of detection" and the German literature equivalent is called Nachweisgrenze. Basically, it indicates the smallest quantity which can be detected.

However, there is another closely used term in German whose English equivalent does not exist. It is called Erfassungsgrenze see Terminology.

What is the subtle difference in the meaning of Nachweis and Erfassung in German and what would be a closest possible word in English for Erfassungsgrenze?

If we check Linguee, both Nachweisgrenze and Erfassungsgrenze are translated as "detection limit" which are essentially correct in the scientific context but when would someone use Nachweis vs. Erfassung?

  • At the given link there are two different formulae to calulate Nachweisgrenze and Erfassungsgrenze, so it depends on the context what was asked for when to use either or both. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 13 at 5:38
  • Thanks but I am asking about the difference in meaning (as in common usage), their statistical definitions are clear. If I were to translate Erfassungsgrenze in English, what would be the closest word? – M. Farooq Aug 13 at 5:50
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It has to do with the verbs from which the nouns are derived:

  • nachweisen = to prove, to verify, to provide evidence
  • erfassen = to determine, to register, to find out
  • bestimmen = to identify, to determine

Here are the translations of the definitions from the website you linked to:

  • Nachweisgrenze = verification limit

    Die Nachweisgrenze ist die kleinste Menge Gehalt einer Probe, die mit einem α-Fehler von 5% und einem β-Fehler von 50% qualitativ nachgewiesen werden kann.

    The verification limit is the smallest amount of content in a sample that can be qualitatively detected with an α error of 5% and a β error of 50%.

  • Erfassungsgrenze = registration limit

    Die Erfassungsgrenze ist die kleinste Menge Gehalt einer Probe, die mit einem α-Fehler von 5% und einem β-Fehler von 5% (qualitativ) nachgewiesen werden kann.

    The registration limit is the smallest amount of content in a sample that can be detected with an α error of 5% and a β error of 5% (qualitative).

  • Bestimmungsgrenze = limit of quantification

    Die Bestimmungsgrenze ist die kleinste Menge Gehalt einer Probe, die bei vorgegebener statistischer Sicherheit und maximal zugelassener relativer Abweichung quantitativ bestimmbar ist.

    The limit of quantification is the smallest amount of content in a sample that can be quantified with a given statistical certainty and maximum permissible relative deviation.

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  • Thank you. Would you consider nachweisen and erfassen as synonyms in common daily use? The definition of Nachweisgrenze is equivalent to "limit of detection" in English which is very well established term. The quantity Erfassungsgrenze does not have a name in English. I think registration limit could be the closest rendition of this quantity. – M. Farooq Aug 13 at 6:07
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    @M.Farooq: No erfassen means to record (to store data, to write down something) while nachweisen means to detect (Is there something or is there nothing?) – Hubert Schölnast Aug 13 at 16:58
  • So I registration limit is perhaps the closest English equivalent, may be one can say "Recording Limit.", i.e., this is the concentration which an instrument can "reliable" record or register. – M. Farooq Aug 13 at 18:54

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