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"Das Fernsehen"


March 12, 2014



What is the difference between 'das Fernsehen' and 'der Fernseher'?


das Fernsehen is the medium or the activity.
der Fernseher is the device.


I am hard pressed to think of an example in English when referring to the medium or activity of television where the use of the article is appropriate. IOW, I would use simply televsion as the translation for das Fernsehen.


"Das andauernde Fernsehen machte ihn gereizt." - "The constant watching of tv made him irritable." But you can also leave out the article in German: "Andauerndes Fernsehen machte ihn gereizt."

I mainly added the articles because it's important to know the gender of nouns in German, not to suggest you have to use them.


Sorry, I think I made myself misunderstood. I was speaking to the English translation. the television and television are two different things in English. If someone can find a common case in English where the act or medium is used with the article, I would be appreciative.

Thank you for your work here!


Oh sorry, you meant to original translation. You are right, that's difficult; I am not even sure "television" can be used for the activity, wouldn't that be "watching (of) tv"?


That example is just because 'Drawing' is actually a noun. In German, Drawing is Die Zeichnung, which is not the same as Das Zeichnen. There are lots of english verbs where the Nounification is easy to do though.

By the way, if you really want to get into this, try doing a little in the Dutch tree, because it's just the middle ground between the languages. In this case, ''television'' is ''televisie'', but 'watching television' can be made into a noun: 'het Televisie kijken', where 'het = Das'. Many people report understanding more of the interplay between english and german if they know a little Dutch.


One word is countable, the other is not. So I think there is no instance of the television referring to the medium.




If you are going to teach Dutch here then please don't mix with it up with German and English spelling. It is just one word: televisiekijken or tv-kijken.

groetjes ;)


It would be something like "the televisioning" but I don't think it even exists in English.

That's always something strange to translate to English. "Das Zeichnen macht ihm Spaß" - "Drawing is fun for him". I don't think you would ever use an article in the translation.

Could somebody report to Duo?


You could potentially see the sentence, "The television changed the way we experienced storytelling." However, it points more to the device than the actual medium. Maybe a foot in both pools here.


"His eyes are ruined from all the television he's watched over the years."


Agreeing with NhormChimpsky. Addressing some comments below, what he refers to does not have to be limited to the activity of watching a television set. Some examples of "television" (without the article) referring to the medium of television, but not to the activity of watching a television set: "My father worked in television most of his career." "Television has changed our society."


Technically, the device is a television "set".. "TV set" but that is just left out in regular usage.


Seems like it's the equivalent to the English differences: 1. das Fernsehen ---> Television is a difficult industry to break into. 2. der Fernseher ----> I broke the television with a bat.

It would appear that German still adds the article even though example one would be considered noncountable in English, whereas example two would be countable and definite because it refers to a specific TV in a space. (It can literally be pointed to by the person [literally or figuratively in discourse]). Also, it could be the TV in the living room vs. the TV in the bedroom, etc.


This difference exists in italian too: "Televisione" for the medium, "Televisore" for the device, but it is not very much in use, since most of the people also call "Televisione" the device... But I immediately recognized the difference thinking of my native language...


For me, this helps - the television industry (Fernsehen) and the television set (Fernseher) He has been on television (Fernsehen) and he watched television (Fernseher). Am I right?


From what I've read (and I'm still not totally clear on this), "Das Fernsehen" is basically the actual programming that's happening on the screen. For instance: daytime television, primetime television, cable television, etc. Whereas "Der Fernseher" is the literal box that sits in your living room.


Thank you Ry-Dawg for that thought. I had surmised that Das Fernsehen indicates the act of watching television, but it wasn't consistently used in that context. Now you have helped me understand the other context in which it can be used. A lingot for you!


Wouldn't this correctly translate to "Watching Television" you wouldn't "I'm going to sit down and television for a couple of hours".


fernsehen is a verb that means "watching television". Das Fernsehen is a noun meaning the medium "television". Expecting different languages to map completely is not a good idea.


I appreciate your comments! I'm having a hard time keeping these words straight. When I learned German, many (40!) years ago, /fernsehen/ was the verb for watching television. /Fernsehapparat/ was the noun. I'm guessing that the times have changed (or perhaps meine Leherin was trying to keel it simple!). Danke vielmals!


I wasn't sure of the gender, so I looked it up in my Cassell's dictionary. I think perhaps it is a little outdated. The original date for the current revision was 1978, last printing, 1987. Anyway, for the device (television set), it gives "Fernsehapparat." Fernsehen just for "television." No "Fernseher." Of course, I was already familiar with the terms, but it was frustrating that I had to make an educated guess for the gender of Fernseher. I guessed right, though.


    Firstly, note the difference between (das) Fernsehen and der Fernseher in the top comments.

    Yes, Fernseher is just a word in common speech. The technical term (which has a Wikipedia article is Fernsehgerät or Fernsehapparat.


    So this would more accurately be translated as 'the watching of television', although it's a format that you would not find in normal English everyday usage.


    I think watching TV would be more accurately expressed with a verb like anschauen.. Das Fernsehen is simply the uncountable "television". It's an abstract sorta thing..


    Das Fernsehen! Lehrerin, Mutter, geheime Geliebte!


    Would you say that the TV set is not equal to television?


    I am pretty sure this means watching television and not the television.


    Is it "far-see"?


    Why is "Fernsehen" pronounced as if the first "e" is an "a", when it's not like that with "gern" and "lernen" and "herz"?


    This is inappropriate. The television is Fernseher. At least we have been taught so! Fernsehen is the activity of watching it! If you want to translate Television into German one would say Fernseher meaning ein Fernsehapparat. Too much television is a very special case!


    "Fernsehen" also refers to the medium of television-- for instance, "I am on television" or "I like television" would use "Fernsehen" rather than "Fernseher." ("Too much television" would fit into this category; it's not really a "special case.") So "the television" probably would refer to the physical device and be "der Fernseher," but just "television" could be either.

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