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differences between rechnen/errechnen/berechnen/ausrechnen/kalkulieren?

Can someone please explain to me the differences between these words?

May 11, 2017

1 Comment


I’ll try, although there is quite some overlap.

  • rechnen neutrally denotes the act of making calculations, without implying whether or not a solution is reached. It is normally used intransitively. You can say “Er rechnet eine Aufgabe” but it sounds rather colloquial to me.
  • errechnen places a focus on the solution. It is transitive, with the object being the result of the calculation (“Sie errechnet den Durchschnittwert”). It is also rather formal.
  • berechnen is very similar to errechnen. It too is transitive and normally implies that a solution is reached but that implication is not quite as strong as with errechnen and there is a bit more focus on the act of calculating than with errechnen.
  • ausrechnen is even more similar to errechnen. It also places a strong focus on the result, but it’s less formal.
  • kalkulieren is like rechnen or berechnen (transitive or intransitive with a focus on the act of calculating) but very formal. You won’t see it very often, especially without prefixes (e.g. einkalkulieren “to factor in, to take into account”).

To give an example: In a maths test, the task would say “Berechne die Höhe des Dreiecks.” The students then have to rechnen and in the end they hopefully will have successfully ausgerechnet/errechnet the altitude of the triangle.

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