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I am having difficulties figuring out the difference between "antreten" and "konkurrieren" in terms of the translation "to compete". In fact, both seem to be translated as compete. Maybe if I provide some example sentences, it would help to understand the difference:

  1. Children between the ages of 9 and 12 will be allowed to compete in the tournament.

Translation: Kinder zwischen 9 und 12 Jahren dürfen beim Wettbewerb (antreten/konkurrieren?)

  1. Team A played with a lot of energy, team B didn't even try to compete.

Translation: Team A hatte mit viel Energie gespielt, Team B hatte nicht einmal versucht (anzutreten/ zu konkurrieren?)

  1. Tomorrow, the German team has to compete against the Italian team.

Translation: Morgan muss die deutsche Mannschaft gegen die italienische Mannschaft (antreten/konkurrieren?)

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  • I'd say that in the first example compete is better translated with teilnehmen (take part/participate). Still, antreten is a valid translation. Just to give you a feeling for the possible width of meaning.
    – Erik
    May 5 at 13:38
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"Antreten" doesn't mean "to compete" directly. The meaning in this context is more like "to enter (a competition)", "to show up (for a match)", "to step up (to the opponent)" or "to report (for taking an exam)". It might help to note that having a group of soldiers to form up is called "antreten" (or "antreten lassen") as well.

But you're right in that "antreten" is often used to describe the competition that happens afterwards as well. This is especially the case when "antreten" is used with the preposition "gegen", like

Er tritt im Halbfinale gegen den Champion aus dem letzten Jahr an.

He steps up in the semifinal to last year's champion.

or

He competes in the semifinal against last year's champion.

"Konkurrieren" doesn't fit this meaning of "to compete" really well, either. This verb is more commonly used in a more abstract sense, for example

Die beiden Unternehmen konkurrieren um die gleichen Kunden.

The two companies are competing for the same customers.

For a more concrete competition like a sports match you can use several verbs. With regard to your examples

Children between the ages of 9 and 12 will be allowed to compete in the tournament.

Kinder im Alter von 9 bis 12 können am Turnier teilnehmen.

Here, "teilnehmen" means that the kids can enter the tournament, they can participate in it etc.

Team A played with a lot of energy, team B didn't even try to compete.

Team A hat mit viel Energie gespielt, Team B hat nicht einmal versucht mitzuhalten.

Here, "mithalten" means something along the lines of "to keep up" (with team A).

Tomorrow, the German team has to compete against the Italian team.

Morgen muss die deutsche Mannschaft gegen die italienische Mannschaft antreten.

Here, we can used "antreten" as explained above. The German team has to step up to the Italien team (and, implicitly, compete against them in the match).

If you want to go for the exact meaning of "to compete" in this context, you can for example use "sich messen (mit jemandem)" (literally "to measure up oneself (against somebody else)". But this wouldn't sound too natural in most cases.

In diesem Spiel können sich die Kinder mit ihren Altersgenossen messen.

In this game, the kids can measure up themselves against their contemporaries.

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  • You could emphasize more that antreten in the approximate sense of "compete" needs gegen [jemanden]. Simply in einem Wettbewerb antreten (without gegen jemanden) leans even more towards a simple "participate" or "show up". May 5 at 7:56
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica Good point, thanks. I edited the question. May 5 at 10:27
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It's one of the cases where the languages don't quite correspond to each other. There is no verb wettbewerben in the German language. The German near equivalents are emphasizing slightly different aspects. The difference is most pronounced in the first bullet point below.

  • "to compete [in a tournament etc.]", without a prepositional object: The German equivalents [an einem Turnier] teilnehmen or [bei einem Turnier] antreten emphasize mere participation.
  • [mit jemandem] [um etwas] wetteifern is one of the best equivalents, but it is not that common. Emphasis is on the commitment and immersion (my mental image is a children's sack race with their tongue hanging out);
  • sich mit jemandem messen emphasizes the comparison;
  • konkurrieren is long-term, with an economic emphasis.

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