Little differences in German — anders, verschiedene, unterschiedliche

Screen Shot 2013 03 24 At 16 24 08

Little differences in German — anders, verschiedene, unterschiedliche

“Ich hätte gern noch ein anderes Bier, bitte.” 

This is a phrase that I hear far too often from non-native German speakers. The confusion lies in the translation of the English expression “I’d like another beer, please.” The word another.

To help everyone getting confused with the words ander-, verschieden-, and unterschiedlich-. But before we do, I’ll just correct that wrong expression from up above. So what you really want is an additional beer to the one/ones you’ve already consumed, therefore, you want to say: “Noch ein Bier, bitte.

noch ein = another (as in one more or a further)

Getting back to the purpose of this post if you look them up in the German learners’ most trusted online resource: LEO.org, you’ll find the following translations:

andere | anderer | anderes (Adketiv / Adverbien) — different / other

andere | anderer | anderes (Indefinitpronomen) — other (pronoun)

ein anderer | eine andere | ein anderesanother (pronoun – different person/thing)

verschieden- (Adjektiv / Adverbien) — different / diverse / unlike / varied

unterschiedlich- (Adjektiv / Adverbien) — different / diverse / unequal / varied / varying

So you’re looking and thinking, “What a silly language with three ways of expressing different.” But wait, let’s look at their actual usage.

andere | anderer | anderes

Meaning:

1.a. Tells us that a being or thing is not identical to that with which it is being compared. If there are two things the meaning is close to “the second” (der Zweite).

1.b. If there are many things being compared the meaning approaches that of “the next” (der Nächste), “the following” (der Folgende), or “the additional” (der Weitere)

2. not the same, different

Usage:

1.a.

  • die eine Hälfte essen, die andere aufheben (eat half and save the other)
  • von einer Seite auf die andere (from one side to the other)
  • am anderen Ende (on the other side)
  • weder das eine noch das andere (keins von beiden) (neither this nor that)
  • das eine tun und das andere nicht lassen (beides tun) (to do one thing and not leave the other thing alone (to do both))

1.b.

  • ein anderes Problem besteht darin, dass sie keine Arbeit findet (another problem is that she can’t find work)
  • er durfte bleiben, die beiden anderen mussten den Saal verlassen (he was allowed to stay, but the other two had to leave the room)
  • ein[e]s nach dem ander[e]n erledigen (etwas der Reihe nach, nacheinander erledigen) (to do one thing after another)
  • eine Zigarette nach der anderen rauchen (to smoke one cigarette after another)
  • sie sprach unter anderem über ihre neuen Pläne (amongst the things she spoke about were also her new plans)
  • zu den Rednern gehörte unter anderen sein Bruder (his brother was one of the speakers)
  • sie sassen einer hinter dem ander[e]n (sassen hintereinander) (they were seated one after another)
  • am ander[e]n Tag (am folgenden Tag) (the next day)

2.

  • das ist eine andere Welt (this is another world)
  • andere Massstäbe anlegen (to set other standards)
  • mit anderen Worten, er hat die Wette verloren (in other words, he lost the bet)
  • er ist anderer Meinung als ich (he’s of a different opinion than me)
  • das ist etwas [ganz] anderes (this is something totally different)
  • mit jemand anderem sprechen (to speak with someone else)
  • jemand anderen fragen (to ask someone else)
  • ein anderer Mensch werden (sich völlig verändern) (to become another person)

There you see some of the different usages of the word ander- in its different forms. Remember here that the endings change. It’s tricky, so here is a table to learn:

Positiv

Starke Deklination (ohne Artikel)

 

Singular

Plural

Kasus

Maskulinum

Femininum

Neutrum

alle Genera

ArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelForm
Nominativandererandereanderesandere
Genitivanderenandereranderenanderer
Dativanderemandereranderemanderen
Akkusativanderenandereanderesandere

Schwache Deklination (mit bestimmtem Artikel)

 

Singular

Plural

Kasus

Maskulinum

Femininum

Neutrum

alle Genera

ArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelForm
Nominativderanderedieanderedasanderedieanderen
Genitivdesanderenderanderendesanderenderanderen
Dativdemanderenderanderendemanderendenanderen
Akkusativdenanderendieanderedasanderedieanderen

Gemischte Deklination (mit ein, kein etc.)

 

Singular

Plural

Kasus

Maskulinum

Femininum

Neutrum

alle Genera

ArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelFormArtikelForm
Nominativeinanderereineandereeinanderes(keine)anderen
Genitiveinesandereneinerandereneinesanderen(keiner)anderen
Dativeinemandereneinerandereneinemanderen(keinen)anderen
Akkusativeinenandereneineandereeinanderes(keine)anderen

Just going back to our beer situation quickly. Looking at the examples above, now suppose it’s Monday and you’re trying to tell some friends at work or university that your colleague was drinking far too much beer on Friday night, when you went for the traditional Friday evening pint. How would you say it?

You could say… “Am Freitagabend, als wir aus waren, trank Martin einfach ein Bier nach dem anderen. Er trank viel zu viel.”

One last note. You may encounter the abbreviation u. a. in German. That means “unter anderem” –> including or among others / among other things

Let’s carry on to verschieden- and unterschiedlich-. These two can often be used as synonyms for each other, but they do have a slight difference in meaning and usage.

verschieden-

Meaning:

1. different from one another, differing

2.a. many, some, several

2.b. a lot, this and that, miscellaneous

Usage:

1.

  • verschiedener Meinung, Ansicht, Auffassung sein (to have a different opinion, position, point of view)
  • zwei ganz verschiedene Qualitäten (two completely different qualities)
  • verschiedene, die verschiedensten (sehr viele verschiedene) Interessen haben (to have many different interests)
  • Kleider in verschiedener Ausführung (different clothing designs)
  • die beiden sind sehr verschieden, sind verschieden wie Tag und Nacht (the two are very different, they’re as different as night and day)
  • das ist von Fall zu Fall verschieden (it varies from case to case (each case is different))
  • darüber kann man verschieden denken (it’s possible to have different opinions about the situation)

2.a.

  • verschiedene gewichtige Gründe sprechen dafür (different important reasons speak for that)
  • verschiedene Zuschauer klatschten (some of the audience clapped)
  • er hat sich verschiedene Mal, Male nach ihr erkundigt (he asked about her on several occasions)
  • durch den Einspruch verschiedener Delegierten (through the objection of some delegates)

2.b.

  • Verschiedenes war mir unklar (anything to the contrary was unknown to me)
  • das behandeln wir unter dem Tagesordnungspunkt Verschiedenes (we’ll look at that when we get to the miscellaneous business on the agenda)

German Collocations with verschieden-:

kollokationen mit verschieden auf deutsch

A note on verschieden- :

Let’s say you’re talking about your friends Mark and Jenny. They’re a great couple, have a lot in common, but Mark loves to stay home and cook, or work in the garden and Jenn loves to go bungee jumping and kite surfing, which Mark’s not into. If you just say: “Sie haben verschiedene Interessen.” it sounds like they have totally different interests (nothing in common). To avoid this use the superlative form: “Sie haben die verschiedensten Interessen.” (They’re interested in many different things.)

unterschiedlich-

Meaning:

1. different from one another, not the same

Usage:

  • unterschiedliche Auffassungen, Charaktere (different points of view, character)
  • Veranstaltungen der unterschiedlichsten Art (different kinds of events)
  • Gebiete von unterschiedlicher Grösse (areas of different sizes)
  • Schülerinnen und Schüler unterschiedlich behandeln (to treat pupils differently (from one another))

German Collocations with unterschiedlich-:

Kollokationen mit unterschiedlich auf Deutsch

An example of the difference between verschieden- and unterschiedlich-:

You get home to your house and it’s been broken into (Es gab einen Einbruch). The police come and find many fingerprints (verschiedene Fingerabdrücke). At first the police can’t say if there was just one burglar (der Einbrecher) or many.  However, once the police establish that there were indeed uniquely different fingerprints (unterschiedliche Fingerabdrücke) then they can say there were at least two burglars at work. An individual can create several diverse fingerprints (verschiedene Fingerabdrücke) but not completely different fingerprints (unterschiedliche Fingerabdrücke).

(This example comes from Zwiebelfisch)

Summary:

The easy way to think about it is this:

  • verschieden emphasizes the difference between different objects
  • unterschiedlich emphasizes differences within a group of beings or objects that are considered a group

A friend of mine has a restaurant in Zurich with a big selection of handcrafted beers. To a guest he would want to say: “Wir haben verschiedene Biere von kleinen Brauereien in Italien. Sie schmecken alle sehr unterschiedlich.” (We have many different beers from small breweries in Italy. They all taste very different.)

Notice in the first case we have a collection of beers — different varieties. In the second sentence we are differentiating them from each other.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: