What is the difference between Jdn davon abbringen, etwas zu tun and Jdn davon abhalten, etwas zu tun?

  1. Ich werde dich davon abbringen, von der Brücke zu springen.

  2. Ich werde dich davon abhalten, von der Brücke zu springen.

2 Answers 2


describes prevention by means of long-term persuasion.

describes prevention by means of any short-time action (it usually requires the person to already stand on the bridge).

Both verbs may describe a discussion, but only abhalten may also describe physical intervention or any other action against the will of of the other person.

  • actually i disagree with the "abhalten" being not physical. can someone else shed some light? after checking in duden i only felt reassured, but maybe it's just me.
    – Vogel612
    Dec 2, 2013 at 14:47
  • I wrote that abhalten may be physical. Is that what you disagree with?
    – flyx
    Dec 2, 2013 at 15:43
  • 1
    no, quite the contrary. i disagree with that it could mean non-physical action. "Both verbs may describe a discussion". I think that it has to mean physical intervention.
    – Vogel612
    Dec 2, 2013 at 15:50
  • 2
    Well, it derives from halten which is a physical action, so I'd say the usage for non-physical actions is metaphorical. An example from the Duden page: sie hielt ihn davon ab, noch mehr zu trinken. I'd interpret this as social rather than physical action.
    – flyx
    Dec 2, 2013 at 16:02
  • i'd still interpret this as a physical action. the social counterpart would be, "sie brachte ihn davon ab, / sie überzeugte ihn, nicht noch mehr zu trinken"
    – Vogel612
    Dec 2, 2013 at 16:09

In my understanding abbringen also includes that you are convinced not to do sth. So I wont jump from the bridge because you convinced me to shoot myself.

Abhalten just made me not to jump. Or you made me miss the bus to a certain bridge. But I will jump tomorrow.

  • That answer is just a short and example driven answer: abbringen = create an intrinsic motivation, abhalten = force by an extrinsic motivation. (while the example with shoot myself is not really the best alternativ ;-) Jul 6, 2020 at 10:40

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