bedingen = to require, have as a prerequisite or condition


erfordern = to necessitate, to require


The two words seems to mean the same. Is there a difference in meaning? Are they interchangeable?

2 Answers 2


Rarely have two words exactly the same meaning. Some words may be interchangeable in one context but not in another context.

In this case, you chose to ignore the entry "bedingen" 1: "to cause", which is the most common meaning.

In fact, I'm not sure that "bedingen" can mean "require", because it would lead to very ambiguous statements:

  1. A causes B.
  2. A requires B.

That is almost the exact opposite meaning, sentence 1 is first A then B, while sentence 2 is first B then A.

  • So you mean, that the meaning [2] of bedingen (require) can be safely ignored by a beginner language user?
    – Alexey
    Mar 6 at 21:57
  • As you said, [1] "cause" and [2] "require" are essentially opposite meanings. Provided that Wiktionary is not lying, how come that people use "bedingen" as "require", which is opposite from the main meaning of the word? Is it bad style by those people or is it not-nuanced-enough translation by Wiktionary or is it something else?
    – Alexey
    Mar 6 at 22:11
  • 1
    I was not aware that "bedingen" could mean "require" and would never assume that when reading the word. That also makes the first example on Wiktionary feel wrong. The second example there is useless, because both meanings fit (two things cause/require each other). So I don't know why someone would use that meaning.
    – RalfFriedl
    Mar 7 at 9:06
  • Thank you for clarification.
    – Alexey
    Mar 8 at 21:41

Erfordern's only meaning is to require.

Bedingen is somewhat similar to "to condition" in English which means either putting a requirement or causing something. Bedingen more often than not means "to cause".

If the context is clear you can use both:

"Diese Torpedos verlangen die rücksichtsvollste Behandlung, bedingen große Kenntnisse des Bedienungspersonals, erfordern bei den Zielstellen oder Beobachtungsstationen Dynamo- oder Dampfmaschinen und haben außer ihrer Kostspieligkeit noch sonstige höchst bedenkliche Nachteile."

  • In this example, "bedingen" and "erfordern" look like complete synonyms. Does the author "stretch" the meaning of "bedingen" here just to avoid repetition?
    – Alexey
    Mar 6 at 22:18
  • 1
    I wouldn't call it a stretch because you can see it used this way in various examples, just more rarely. Like the word require, you can require someone to do something, as in demand, or as in need.
    – daniel
    Mar 6 at 23:40
  • Thank you for clarification.
    – Alexey
    Mar 8 at 21:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.