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  5. lernen vs. studieren


lernen vs. studieren

In an exercise of "mark all the correct ones", I ticked two:

  • Wann lernen wir am besten?
  • Wann studieren wir am besten?

Obviously, I was thinking them to be synonymous enough (although we tend to learn at schools first and then to study in the unis as students and labs as scientists), but that wasn't accepted.

So, what's the critical difference? Is there any in German beyond that between to learn and to study in English?

February 1, 2018



I think "studieren" is more intense than "lernen". We learn daily, but we study at the university (for example).

Please have a look at this website: http://www.thegermanprofessor.com/studieren-vs-lernen/


Thank you, that covers it indeed.


You are welcome. : )

  • 1394

That was helpful, thanks.


Please see my comment here on the difference.


Because of the sentences above: without any context both versions could be accepted. But it is not that easy at all :-)

In German we never use "studieren" for children, which go to school. We use "lernen" for their activity and they are called "Schüler" oder "Schülerin".

The same for people, who start an apprenticeship for learning a profession within two or three years. They are called "Lehrlinge" or "Auszubildende". In both casees the newer political correct language requires "Lernende".

So "studieren" is used for (adult) people, which study at a college (Hochschule) or university. They are called "Studenten" or "Studentinnen" - or according to political correct newspeak "Studierende".

You can use "studieren" also for a deeper study of a problem, like examining, researching.

For instance a lawyer could say: "Ich muss den Fall erstmal studieren." (First of all I have to study that suit.)

[deactivated user]

    I think it's one of those cases akin to talking vs. speaking in English... slight differences.


    From what I got it follows that the differences are not that slight, actually...

    The meanings of these words are like two circles one over the other with their projections partly overlapping.

    While studying is a process through which it is possible to learn as a result (that's where the projections overlap), it is also possible to learn without studying (e.g. from random experience), and it's possible to study without learning (e.g. to formally be enlisted as a uni student but skip or sleep through all the lectures, or examine the object and find nothing new about it, also by missing it through negligence).

    [deactivated user]

      Yes, agreed.

      • 1394

      Yes, agreed also.

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