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laufen oder rennen

Hi everyone! Can you help me to distinguish "laufen" and "rennen", when "laufen" is used and when "rennen", referring to the physical movement. Many thanks! :)

June 1, 2018



This gets asked quite a lot. So I will just post a link to a stackexchange question about it where I think it's answered quite well.

"Rennen" is running fast and means a type of movement where both your feet are leaving ground at the same time. "Laufen" will mean the same when you are talking about sports, otherwise it is a general word for moving by feet, and you need context to know if there is something said about speed.


Oh thanks med rotorrobot I had the same question yesterday but only in my mind ;-)


And thanks Hannah to ask this question.


rennen is faster than laufen. Rennen is more sprint style, while laufen is marathon.


Also, Rennen can be a competition (race) with vehicles, like Radrennen or Motorrennen, Formel-1-Rennen, ...


Laufen can refer to walking or running, usually with the intention of transportation. For example, you might say "Ich laufe bis der Schule zu das Kino" (I walk from the school to the movie theater). Rennen is in more of a competition. My first thought is a Dackelrennen, or a Dachshund race. Yes, it's as cute as it sounds, google it. When in doubt, I'd say use laufen, since rennen is more specific. That's at least the explanation my professors tend to give.


Without wanting to be picky but your German sentence is wrong.

Ich laufe von der Schule [zum, bis zum, zu dem] Kino.

Das Kino is neuter, but you have to use the position dative


In the south, we use "laufen" as well as "rennen" only in the meaning of "to run" ("rennen" feels even faster than "laufen") and "gehen" in the meaning of "to walk" or "to go", whereas in the north, "laufen", just like "gehen", means "to walk" or "to go" and "rennen" means "to run" (as mentioned before, in sports, "laufen" can also mean "to run" anywhere in the German-speaking countries). For example, in order to say "I walk to the train station", someone in the south would usually say "Ich gehe zum Bahnhof" while in the north they would rather say "Ich laufe zum Bahnhof" (which would sound like "I run to the train station" to someone from the south, even though most people are aware of the different use of words like this in different areas). So, it might sound easier to use only "gehen" and "rennen" in order to be well-understood all over the German-speaking countries, but then, "gehen" can also be misunderstood. For example "Ich gehe zur Schule" can mean "I go to school" as well as "I walk to school". So, in order to distinguish those two meanings in German, instead of "gehen" only, you can use "zu Fuß gehen" (literally to "go by foot" which means the same as "to walk"). So that sentence would be "Ich gehe zu Fuß zur Schule" ("I walk to school"). I hope this explanation made things clearer and not even more confusing. ;) Greetings from Bavaria Daniel

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