As a learner, I still get confused about the use of how the tenses of verbs work in German. So is it just as correct to use either of the following verb forms in the following sentences? "Wie die weisen Jungfrauen will ich den Bräutigam begegnen." and "Wie die weisen Jungfrauen will ich den Bräutigam treffen." Also, in that last sentence, would zutreffen mean the same and still be correct grammar as well? I hope that I have explained my question well enough but I am happy to provide further clarification if needed. Thanks in advance.

  • Forgot to add in the question above that I have checked it with several online grammar checkers, and they are all stating that all of the sentences are correct, but as a learner, I cannot be sure that grammar checkers are correct.
    – dazbek
    Mar 18, 2021 at 0:24
  • 2
    What does this question have to do with tenses? Your examples are all in the present tense. Mar 18, 2021 at 7:22
  • On an unrelated note, just making sure you are aware that "weise Jungfrauen" means "wise virgins". Could be an unintended misspelling or a clever play with weiß vs. weise in your context.
    – HalvarF
    Mar 18, 2021 at 9:24

1 Answer 1


In this context, "begegnen" and "treffen" means the same (encounter/meet). "Zutreffen" has another meaning: It means that something is correct. "Ist es zutreffend, dass du dich auf das Wochenende freust?" - "Ja, das trifft zu" (~"Is it correct that you are looking forward to the weekend?" - "yes, that's right"). Be aware, that in some cases ("Ich plane, ihn zu treffen"), the "zu" does not belong to the verb "treffen" itself as in "zutreffen", which is a completely independend word.

Concerning the difference between "begegnen" and "treffen": I think in most cases they can be used as synonyms. "Begegnen" means more like "unintentionally encounter", or in this case "to face", "treffen" could be used for both, meet intentionally or unintentionally (but then, it is normally used in the past). For example:

  • "Ich traf einen Freund in der Stadt" (I encountered a friend in the city)
  • "Heute treffe ich einen Freund in der Stadt" (Today I am going to meet with a friend in the city)

As for the sentence "Wie die weisen Jungfrauen will ich dem Bräutigam begegnen.": In this case you could use both, however, "begegnen" sounds more elegant and better, as it's more the context of "to face" instead of meeting to hang out. Please also be aware, that you need to use the Dativ when you use "begegnen" ("Wem willst du begegnen?"), however, if you use "treffen", it's the Akkusativ, and therefore "den" is correct ("Wen willst du treffen?")

  • Wow Convaldo, you amaze me. I don't know who you are but more blessings to you! I have been studying German for 4 years now fairly intensely, and sometimes I get frustrated with my lack of progress and think that I should understand more than I do, but it sure has not been for lack of trying. I think it is just my older brain (I will be 60 at the end of the year), but at any rate I sure hope I am doing as well as you are one day. Once again, thanks.
    – dazbek
    Mar 18, 2021 at 6:03
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    You're welcome! I think German is at its most difficult concerning poems, so don't be ashamed! And besides, your sentences are very nice and lyrical already! Regarding Dativ and Akkusativ, there are some rules for sure, however it's sometimes quite tricky to find them out and justify why they are used in certain constellations, even for native speakers.
    – convaldo
    Mar 18, 2021 at 6:16
  • Thanks very much for the encouragement. I actually re-did some of my poem (actually they are really song lyrics) and I incorporated some of your corrections. I thought you might like to see the finished product if you have an email address that I could send them to.
    – dazbek
    Mar 18, 2021 at 6:25
  • Sure. You can follow and contact me on twitter (see my profile page), so we can continue talking there.
    – convaldo
    Mar 18, 2021 at 7:25
  • I cannot confirm that begegnen is more related to unintentionally encounter. Both words have multiple meanings. I, as a German native speaker, think it's not possible to give a rule of thumb. It also depends on whether it's written or spoken German.
    – Wolf
    Mar 18, 2021 at 14:14

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