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"Menschen" vs. "Volk"

Hallo, Duolingo!

I have a small question about the word "people" in the German language. In some contexts (including those which Duolingo gives out as examples), the word "Menschen" is used to refer to people, while in others, especially political contexts, the word "Volk" is used to also refer to people.

From what I've seen, the words "Volk" and "Menschen" refer to the same word in English; however, I suspect there's some difference between these words I can't seem to figure out. Is there any difference between the words "Volk" and "Menschen"? If so, what are those differences, and if not, are there are least differences between when the terms are generally used?

Dankeschön for your help!

June 25, 2018


  • 1279

People without grammatical plural form (inherent plural meaning) = Menschen. I see a lot of people. Ich sehe viele Menschen. (Individuals)

People with a plural option = Volk. In Afrika leben viele verschiedene Völker. Many different peoples live in Africa. (The people of a country)


Thank you so much for your help! Upon doing further research on this topic, I've discovered that there's actually another word for people in German, "leute". I've also discovered this resource that I believe gives a good explanation on all three words:


Would you say this site's description of the different words for people are accurate, and if not, what is wrong with its descriptions? Thanks again for your help, and have a nice day!

  • 1279

Good information on that site. Except I would never say “die Menschen von IBM”! That strikes me as rather bizarre. Googling this expression with some of the biggest companies results in only a handful hits. “Die Leute von Microsoft”, on the other hand, has plenty of hits.

I would use Leute also in similar constructions: die Leute vom Theater, die Leute vom Vorstand (here, Mitglieder/members is most likely more common), die Leute vom Museum, die Leute von Duolingo... It generally refers to the people working for X or running X and/or being responsible for something X did, without identifying a specific group.


I think Niko got it.

Menschen is like humans, the more technical term.

Volk is like the people as a people, I would refer to "People's Republic of China" but I may be wrong. Also "Volkswagen" the car, the folk's car.

Leute is like people in general, how you would most likely say it. "Hallo Leute" "diese Leute sind nervig" etc.


I think English is very unsatisfactory because it uses "men" when "humans" or "human beings" are meant. Like in "All men are created equal" or "God created man in his own image". In these instances it is "Mensch(en)" in German, includes both sexes and has nothing technical about it.


You can tell the difference in English if you consider both the singular and plural:
person/people = Mensch/Menschen
& people/peoples = Volk/Völker :)


you can say also Leute, it's like to say guys

Hallo Leute, willkommen zu meinem neuen video

(Hello guys, welcome to my video)

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