Difference between benötigen and brauchen ?

Can someone please explain the difference between them and in which case to use them. Thank you in advance.

July 23, 2014


They're mostly interchangeable. "brauchen" is more common and "benötigen" is more formal.

"brauchen" can also be used as a modal verb, but "benötigen" can't.

  • Du brauchst das nicht (zu) machen = You don't have to/needn't do that

In colloquial German, "zu" is often dropped.

July 23, 2014

I'd say that "brauchen" = "need" and "benötigen" = "require".

April 28, 2017

I realize that this is quite an old post, but I hope you don't mind if I ask: What about erfordern?

October 24, 2016

Erfordern means require. The difference can be subtle, but they can not always be used interchangably. For instance, orange juice requires oranges, but it doesn't really make sense to say that it needs oranges.

November 22, 2016

I see. So would you use erfordern in the case you described?

November 22, 2016

It helped me a lot, thanks!

August 12, 2017

I'm not exactly a linguist so I'm confused with this "can't be used as a modal verb". It seems that benötigen is a verb, and after looking up what modal verb is, benötigen sounds like one. it sets up the mood, does it not? Could you explain this in terms I can understand, when do I use benötigen?

January 6, 2018

What about 'bedurfen'? How is it different from these two?

July 6, 2016

bedürfen seems old-fashioned to me. You might find it in a scientific text "Es bedarf einer genaueren Analyse" and it means "to require".

August 8, 2018

To answer elabium’s question below. I’m not wild about calling brauchen a modal verb. The modal verbs in German are durfen, können, mogen, mussen, sollen, wollen. Recall that you use these verbs by putting an infinitive at the end of a sentence like Ich muss heute einkaufen. So with brauchen we can say ich brauche heute zu einkauken (i need to shop today) but it’s common to leave out the zu. That makes brauche look a lot like the modal verbs. But that doesn’t work with benötigen as ich benötige heute einkaufen is a messed up sentence.

Whether that makes brauchen a modal verb is closely argued. But not by me. Tschuss!

May 27, 2019
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