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What is the difference between the words die Station and der Bahnhof? Can they be used interchangably? When should one be used over the other?

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Most of the times these words cannot be used interchangeably, they are conceptually different.

Bahnhof means "station".

The word Station is a false friend, and it does not mean "station". Station is the a stop on a line. This can be on any line, regardless of the means of transportation, on a train, a bus, a ship, an airplane, you name it.

Nächste Station: Altes Rathaus

Wieviele Stationen hat die Linie 16?

A Station can happen to be a Bahnhof:

Nächste Station: München Hauptbahnhof

But that does not imply that the words Station and Bahnhof are the same, just as english stop and station do not mean the same, although a stop can be a station.

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The two words are quite different and in general cannot be used interchangably.

Bahnhof is the German word for railway station. By extension, it is sometimes also used for other public transport facilities, such as Busbahnhof for a big bus station where many lines meet, or in a figurative sense such as großer Bahnhof for a big reception.

Station in German is originally a general word for a location where something or someone stops or remains for some time. Usages include the hospital ward, a refreshment point on a hike or run, or the waypoints of the catholic way of the cross, as well as the stopping points of public transport lines. It is not however in common use for an intersection point of railway lines. So "main station" must be translated as Hauptbahnhof. Hauptstation would be wrong.

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  • Soll der letzte Satz eine doppelte Verneinung darstellen? Wie würdest Du ihn vorlesen? Apr 30, 2022 at 16:48
  • Welcher letzte Satz? "Hauptstation would be wrong"? Da ist überhaupt keine Verneinung drin und ich würde ihn genau so vorlesen wie er dasteht, allenfalls mit einer leichten Stimmhebung auf dem ersten Wort zur Distanzierung. Apr 30, 2022 at 18:13
  • Da ist eine Durchstreichung bei mir zu sehen - bei Dir nicht? Wie sonst, wenn nicht als Verneinung, würdest Du eine Durchstreichung interpretieren? May 12, 2022 at 11:10
  • Die Durchstreichung kennzeichnet das Wort als falsch. May 12, 2022 at 15:14
  • Aber im Satz "Hauptstation would be wrong" ist es ja nicht falsch, d.h. die Falschmarkierung ist da falsch. May 16, 2022 at 2:07
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In formal terms, Bahnhof has to have at least one switch, else it is a Haltepunkt / Haltestelle.
Station is less common when talking about railroad, it may be of regional use or a generic term for any stop on a line, regardless of size. If the context is established, you may use Station occasionaly, just for variety.

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