What's the meaning of "die Schule schaffen", like in this sentence:

Es hängt davon ab, ob er die Schule schafft.

I googled it but found nothing helpful in english, with dict cc showing something similar but (I think) unrelated.

  • Please use google translate or deepl with the sentence... both return valid and correct translations... This platform is not here to answer questions that translation sites can answer easily...
    – Tode
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 14:37
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    @Tode That is poor advice. How is a learner supposed to know whether a given translation is correct? Or whether the translation given by the tool is the only correct one?
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 14:52
  • @David Vogt: It's true that automatic translators only get it 90% right, and then only 90% of the time, but an English speaker should know when the translation makes sense to a human and if it fits the context. There are no idioms in the sentence, and really the hard part is schaffen, whose meaning varies wildly depending on the object its paired with. At the least, the question should include a machine translation and some explanation as to why it doesn't seem to make sense.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 15:27
  • 2
    @DavidVogt: Sorry, I don't understand. I just repeated what our help about "on-topic" questions sais: If your question could be answered by a dictionary, a grammar book, or another general reference, consult these. Explain why this did not help you when asking your question.. Just tried to explain my "Close"- vote...
    – Tode
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:13
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    @Tode "Can be translated via machine translation" is a new close reason for me, and one that I disagree with, for the reasons stated in my previous comment.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


The verb "schaffen" has several meanings, but in this case, it means something like "to be successful at", "to achieve". Knowing that, your result on dict.cc is actually closely related, even though it is a slightly more complex construction than just "schaffen" with an accusative object.

Now, said accusative object of "schaffen" usually denotes something that involves some kind of a test that needs to be accomplished (but that can realistically be failed, as well):

  • eine Prüfung schaffen
  • den Abschluss schaffen
  • eine Aufgabe schaffen

Thus, "die Schule schaffen" is a shorter way of saying something like "alle Prüfungen an der Schule bis hin zum Abschluss bestehen" - in other words, "to manage to graduate from school".

The difference to just saying "to graduate from school" is that the latter is just a description of what happens in terms of the subject's school career, whereas "schaffen" also conveys a sense of accomplishment; that said graduation is not guaranteed.

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    Supplement: schaffen is a verb with many meanings so I advise to check a dictionary anyway. Note that den Lehrer schaffen (colloquial) can have the entire different meaning of achieving to get the teacher exhausted or even near to a nervous breakdown.
    – guidot
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:04
  • Thanks a lot. I actually knew that schaffen means something similar to "accomplish" or "achieve", but it has other (for me) confusing meanings, like "create", or //den Zug schaffen// meaning "catch the train"...so I didn't know if //die Schule schaffen// means "succeed at school", "catch up with your peers at school" or even "create the school". Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 19:19
  • I even came across a sentence where //die Schule schaffen// was translated as "gradute from school", but as I said before, I was confused between the different possible meanings of the verb schaffen: //Laut Schulmedizinischer Auskunft von damals, hätte er niemals eine normale Schule schaffen können, und wäre auf einem geistigen Niveau von einem Kleinkind stehen geblieben.// Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 19:23
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    @KeNSmilePachI: I'd say "den Zug schaffen" is exactly the same meaning as described in my answer: You manage to arrive in time to get on the train, which may, for one reason or another, have easily failed. Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 19:28

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