I came across the phrase: ans Telefon gehen, which was translated as "answer the phone". Reading German literature, however, I also came across the word rangehen. It was also translated as to answer the phone. And my question is, what's the difference? And could I possible use "ans Telefon rangehen"?

2 Answers 2


Firstly, "ran", "rein", "rauf", etc. are short forms from "heran", "herein", "herauf" etc. While the short forms are more common in speech, in written texts "heran" etc. are used.

"Ans Telefon gehen" (literally to go close to the phone) means answering the phone. There is also "An die Tür gehen", meaning "answer the door".

So "an etwas gehen" has the meaning of "answer". It is now natural to try to omit the "Telefon" part as it is long and usually clear from the context. But then, the "an" part would also be omitted. Then only "gehen" would remain, and the "an etwas gehen" meaning would be lost. So "ran" substitutes this "an" and "rangehen" means "an etwas gehen".

"Gehst du ans Telefon?" -> "Gehst du ran?"

"Ans Telefon rangehen", however, will be understood as literally coming closer to phone, since the "ran" here can't be a substitute for an "an". So the original meaning of "rangehen", which is "going close to", is used.


As I understand it, "rangehen" comes from (short of) "Telefon herangehen" -> "Telefon rangehen".

And.. both, "Telefon gehen" and "Telefon rangehen" can be used

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