Is there such a universal verb in German as in English - "Get"?

If during a conversation with an English-speaking person I do not know the required verb, then I can replace it with "Get". Everyone will almost always understand me.

Is there a similar verb in German?

  • I get what you're getting at. You don't get a verb like that in German, sorry.
    – HalvarF
    Nov 8, 2020 at 10:29
  • 3
    I don't think this is a bad question. It's not really a translation request -- it is asking for the existence of a specific lexical function. Nov 8, 2020 at 10:40
  • 4
    I think what comes closest is the verb "machen". If you replace a verb you don't know by "machen" you will probably be understood although it will sound weird. I think with using "get" in English for any verb you don't know it's similar.
    – RHa
    Nov 8, 2020 at 10:53
  • Welcome to German.SE. Do you think you can explore a little bit further some "limitations" of the replacement "get"? Like where it would leed to confusion, like in which kind of conversation you would never use it, if there are any "introductionary" phrases like the German "äh"? Nov 8, 2020 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


When you can replace any verb with "get", you also can replace "lose" with "get", and still everyone will understand you, right? This means that, when you say "Tom gets money" everyone will understand "Tom loses money".

So, the very clear answer is: No, there is no German verb with this feature.

But I do not believe your proposal. I do not believe that you can replace lose with get and still will be understood. I do not believe, that there is any language that contains a universal verb.

  • There are languages with "universal verbs", but that only means that few verbs carry all the inflection information, while another inflective part carries the lexical meaning (e.g., Basque). But that's not more helpful than saying er tut das verlieren instead of er verliert das. Nov 9, 2020 at 9:31
  • @phipsgabler: You describe auxiliaries here.
    – Janka
    Nov 9, 2020 at 10:37
  • "He gets less money" would work though. Nov 9, 2020 at 11:02
  • @Janka I see the what you mean, it might just be a terminological point. But contrary to auxiliaries in other languages, which may behave "specially" in some sense, in Basque, it is the all other verbs that behave specially, in that they are defective and can only occur in compound constructions, whereas the "auxiliaries" are the only full verbs. (Which is not unique to Basque, that's just the best example I came up with.) Nov 9, 2020 at 11:55
  • money gets away from Tom
    – Andra
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:45

The asked for counterpart in my opinion is

dingsen ( See e.g. non-authoritatively here).

It is in the family of Dings(bums) (See Duden) for currently eluding substantives and Dingenskirchen (also Duden) for locations, the latter one having the benefit of looking like a real village name. All of these are colloquial.

Since the typical use is in real-time communication, it will not be easily found in writing, where time and search resources are typically available for finding the specific word. (But I caught one occurrence here: Magischer Kessel Blog.)

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