What is the correct preposition construct for the expression?

the experiment on the whole population

  • 3
    What do you think might be the correct preposition? Your question does not show any research effort in trying to find the right answer before asking us. This site is not a translation service. And you did not provide us with enough context to be able to answer the question correctly without making any assumptions. As a minimum context at least a whole sentence would be needed. Phrases without context can be interpreted in many different ways. – Hubert Schölnast Jan 4 at 13:05

Let me extend the phrase a bit:

to conduct the experiment on the whole population

In order to translate it correctly, we must first figure out what the term whole population refers to:

  1. in terms of statistics to all individuals of the basic population under consideration
    gesamte Population or Grundgesamtheit
  2. generally to all inhabitants of a geographic or political area
    gesamte Bevölkerung or Gesamtbevölkerung

If the statistical term is intended, then the preposition mit is typically used:

  1. das Experiment mit der Grundgesamtheit durchführen

If the general term is intended, then (at least) the two prepositions mit and an are possible:

  1. a) das Experiment mit der gesamten Bevölkerung durchführen
    b) das Experiment an der gesamten Bevölkerung durchführen

While a) is quite neutral, b) has the slightly negative connotation that humans serve as guinea pigs. This may be so because an is more often used in connection with objects. It, therefore, objectifies the humans who take part in an experiment. An experimenter myself, I always reply, when asked, that I do psychophysical experiments mit Menschen, not an Menschen.


Without any context, I'd say "das Experiment an der ganzen Bevölkerung", but this sounds somewhat negative, which might not be intended.

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