bieten vs. anbieten
The bane of any English learner is the wide array of phraseology verbs that the English language seems to pocess. Though there are phraseology verbs in German, they don’t seem to pose as much of a confusion as verbs with prefixes do.
A prefix, a word or word part that we place before another word to alter its meaning. Common ones in English are un-, in-, and dis-. German has a broad pallet of prefixes that alter verbs to the point where the verb doesn’t mean anything close to what the stem verb means. What makes these even trickier is that the prefix is often separated from the verb and placed at the end of the clause.
Early on in anyone’s German learning career they will encounter the verb “anbieten” as a great example of a verb with with a separable prefix. Anbieten – to offer. So there you are using “bieten… an” all over the place, you feel great, you understand the verb and the separable prefix. No problem. German is easy. Until you give your text to a German to correct and they start crossing out all your “an“s. “What the?!” you ask. Silly Germans don’t even know their own language. The verb is anbieten, not simply bieten. Especially when it means “to offer” and not something else.
And here we are back to a topic discussed in one of the very first blog posts: German is a language of linguistic precision. Bieten and anbieten may both be translated into English as offer, but they have different connotations. Let’s take a look:
anbieten: (to make an offer)
1. to offer something to eat, drink or enjoy
- Ich könnte dir einen Kaffee anbieten.
- I could offer you a coffee.
2. to offer something for purchase, to trade or to take over
- Der Weinhändler bot heute besonders günstig Prosecco an.
- The wine merchant was offering especially inexpensive Prosecco today.
3. to offer a suggestion, to make something available
- Ich biete euch für die Zukunft eine bessere Zusammenarbeit an.
- I’m offering you better cooperative work conditions in the future.
4. reflexive: for something to come about through itself
- Es bietet sich geradezu an, dass wir in Zukunft mehr mit- als gegeneinander arbeiten.
- It has come to fruition that we’ll be working more with than against each other in the future.
bieten: (transitive): (to feature)
1. to confess, that one is ready to do something or offer something
- Dieser Raum bietegenügend Platz für Großveranstaltungen.
- This room offers enough space for large events.
2. to warrant something, to guarantee something, to afford something
- Irgendjemand wird dir schon ein Obdach bieten.
- Someone will offer you shelter.
3. to present something
- Auf der Feier wurde ein unterhaltsames Programm geboten.
- An entertaining program was offered at the party.
4. to allow somethng to become visible
- Dieses Gebäude bietetdem Auge wenig Ergötzliches.
- This building doen’t offer the viewer much beauty.
5. To expect something of someone
- So eine Schlamperei lasse ich mir nicht bieten.
- I won’t accept such sloppiness.
A very easy way to remember the difference between the two is by thinking of anbieten as being synonumous with making an offer (to be accepted or not) and bieten as to feature something (no offer is being made).
Just in case you need some more examples of the little known verb bieten:
Dieses Auto bietet Sicherheit und Komfort.
This car offers security and comfort. The car is not making an offer. The verb here refers to a feature of the car that is always there (always “offered” by the car).
Das Internet bietet nur beschränkte Anonymität.
The Internet offers only limited anonymity. Again, the Internet is not actually making an offer. As in the sentence above, the reference is to something that is always (not) “offered” by the Internet.