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  5. Ich sage vs Ich spreche.


Ich sage vs Ich spreche.

This is an interesting topic for me and I'm sure there's no easy answer. However I was wondering if i could have some enlightenment on theses words. We have both of these words in English the literal translation of each being Sage - Say Spreche - speak. Now in English it seem a bit obscure on when to use these however of course I know since I'm an Australian, BUT if you asked me a rule on when to use what I could not tell you, even thought I know when. Is this similar obscurity in Deutsch existent?

August 31, 2017



From my experience I would say the usage in German is similar to that in English.

One difference I would say is that "sagen" can be used when in English we would use the verb "to tell". This can be confusing as the literal translation for "to tell" is "erzählen", but for me I just think of "erzählen" as stories etc. and "sagen" just as pieces of information.

P.S. Also, there is the interjection „Sag mal!“ which can be used for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is when someone won't tell you something you need to know, but in the TV series "Stromberg" (the German version of The Office) I heard it used quite a lot where in English we would say something like "Oi!" or "Hey!" - both angrily when someone bumps into you or something like that.

  • 1139

Hi Adam, I like The Office; I think there is a British and an American version but I'm not 100% on that though. I do not watch a lot of TV, I don't even have one but I watch shows on my computer. How do you get Stromberg as I think that would be a great show to learn conversation from?

Deine Freundin, Susan

P.S. I see you are at level 25 in German, what are you doing now? I know that I would not just stop there but keep on reinforcing the material.

  • 1139

I was able to find the TV series Stromberg. Too bad it has no German or English captions, it just makes it a little more difficult for me to learn from it. But it is still good for total immersion.


Use them the exact same way in English.

Can I speak with you? Can I say with you? (Kann ich mit dir sprechen?) (reden works there as well)

But when saying which languages you speak, you say "Ich kann Deutsch". The "sprechen" isn't needed in that case.


It is a re leaf to realize that in German and English they're the same


sagen and say are transitive verbs: you have to say something; you can't just say. sprechen and speak are intransitive verbs: you just speak; you can't speak something. (I guess there are rare exceptions in set phrases like "speak truth to power", but that's the basic idea.)

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