As far as I know, there are two ways to write There is a refrigerator in the kitchen:

In der Küche gibt es einen Kühlschrank.

In der Küche befindet sich ein Kühlschrank.

Is there difference in meaning? and in what situation should I use the latter over the former?

  • You can also say "In der Küche ist ein Kühlschrank."
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


The two sentences given have almost the same meaning, but I think the second one could be rendered in English as "A refrigerator is located in the kitchen," stressing the location rather than the mere existence of the refrigerator. In general, the impersonal verb es geben means "there is" or "there exists", would almost always have an indefinite article when used with a singular, countable noun, and would not require a location. On the other hand, the reflexive verb sich befinden means "is located", can be used with a definite article or a proper noun, and would always include a location. In other words, if you're giving the location of a specific thing or person, then you could only use sich befinden.

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    Da man selten mit offenen Kühlschrankleugnern diskutiert ist der Hinweis auf die pure Existenz wenig praxisrelevant. Der letzte Satz sollte wahrscheinlich heißen "only then you could use sich befinden". Du willst ja nicht verneinen, dass man auch "Es gibt in der Küche einen Kühlschrank" sagen kann. Neben location kommen aber auch andere Bildungen in Betracht: "Das Projekt befindet sich in der Planung.", "Susi befindet sich im Tiefschlaf", etc. Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 20:16
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    @user unknown: Auch im Englischen gibt es kaum einen praktischen Unterschied zwischen There is a refrigerator in the kitchen und A refrigerator is located in the kitchen, aber die Verben There is und is located haben im Allgemeinen unterschiedliche Bedeutungen. Ja, "befinden" hat viele Bedeutungen, und ich habe nur die diskutiert, die hier relevant sind. Thanks for the corrections; I am functionally illiterate without spellcheck. But I think the phrasing in the last sentence is correct. "Only then" would mean that you would never use sich befinden with an unspecific person or thing.
    – RDBury
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 22:51
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    @userunknown Bestreiten die offenen Kühlschrankleugner die Existenz offener Kühlschränke? Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 11:56
  • "the impersonal verb es geben" - this is a bit shaky as an infinitive, because "es" isn't part of the infinitive and cannot go together with the unconjugated "geben". I think speaking of an impersonal phrase es gibt would be more accurate. Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 13:07
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    @O. R. Mapper: Yes, I'm abusing the terminology a bit there. Technically "there is" and "is located" aren't verbs either (see my other comment). It wouldn't always be es gibt though: es gab, es hat gegeben, es wird geben, es muss geben, etc.
    – RDBury
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 22:59

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