Menshen vs. Leute

Hi guys, What's the difference between this words?

I found this explanation at:

"The way I always explain it is that Menschen is shifted toward human while Leute is shifted toward a colloquial use of people... maybe a bit like folk(s)."

Is it right? Can you add something?


October 18, 2015


Sorted by top post

Good explanations already given.
Let me add a quote by Erich Kästner: "Der Mensch ist gut, nur die Leute sind schlecht..." (Mensch = general idea of humans; Leute = real people)

October 19, 2015

Awesome quote.

October 19, 2015

That answer on stackexchange really sums it up quite nicely.

I met some nice people = Leute

Fortunately the virus infects only cattle, not people = Menschen

October 18, 2015

Very nice, thank you!

October 18, 2015

I'm not exactly sure because I am not that great at German but the way I see it is Menschen = Humans/ More than one person, Mensch = Human/ 1 Human, and Leute= People. This is just I see it but you may need to ask a native speaker to confirm.

October 19, 2015

Thanks for the distinction - I was defaulting to "Menschen" due to hearing it used as such from grandma speaking Yiddish. =)

October 19, 2015

And where does 'Personen' fit into this? Thanks :)

October 20, 2015

Oh, my, I saw that coming ;-)

I think "Personen" is roughly similar to English "person", though maybe a little more formal in German.

It is used mostly when you talk about people as objects of transportation or generally when the number of persons is important. For example in each elevator there is usually a little sign like "Max. 8 Personen (640kg)". Similar notes are given in cars, buses, inflatable boats, etc.

October 21, 2015
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