What is the Difference – “antworten vs. beantworten”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And today it is time for a short What is the Difference Special. And our, very legitimate question today is:

Pils or Lager? – What the heck is the difference… after all?

Let’s answer … this question.
The difference is not so big. Pils and Lager both were born out of the desire to make beer more long-lasting and hops are a great way to keep the nasty bacteria and mold in check. So both Pils and Lager contain a lot of hops and are hence rather bitter.
So this was our What is the Difference special… aaaaaand, we actually have a lot of time left. Tell you what, I have a spontaneous idea… why don’t we talk a bit about the difference between antworten and beantworten.… 

Both words, antworten and beantworten mean to answer. The difference lies in the dark forests of grammar…

Antworten can not be done with a thing. You cannot take a question and antworten es. But you can do it to someone.

  • Ich antworte dir.
  • I answer you.

I answer … I answer you… but I don’t answer the question… grammatically that is. If you want to answer it, you need a preposition to assist. Auf to the rescue.

  • Ich antworte dir auf die Frage.
  • I answer you your question (sounds weirds, I know).

So technically this is more like

  • I respond to your question to you (sounds weird,I know).

Beantworten on the contrary is done with the question. You pose it, I take it and answer the hell out of it till it will never raise its voice again … get it? Get it?… raise voice… like… at the end of a question…
so
funny.

  • Ich beantworte die Frage.
  • I answer the question.

If you want to include to whom you answer that question, you use the case 3 once again.

  • Ich beantworte dir die Frage.
  • I answer you the question.

So… from a grammatical standpoint antworten is actually to respond.

  • Where were you last night? Answer/ respond!
  • Wo warst du letzte Nacht? Antworte!
  • Wo warst du letzte Nacht? Beantworte!    is wrong
  • Wo warst du letzte Nacht? Beantworte mir das!
    would be correct but a bit more complicated than necessary… and NO. That does NOT mean that it is good German :)

So… you can just antworten but you always have to beantworten something. Here is an example for a situation in which beantworten is preferable:

  • Kannst du mir beantworten, wieso du immer zu spät kommst?
  • Can you answer me, why you’re always late?

The same expressed with antworten requires you to use one of the infamous da-words.

  • Kannst du mir darauf antworten, warum du immer zu spät kommst?

Why the darauf-stuff? Because if you want to use antworten and the question itself as object you need auf. That is news to you? Well … then you didn’t pay attention earlier ;).
No need to feel bad though… also me myself, I have something I haven’t payed yet… my beer(s).
So I’ll do that now and then head home, because… and here comes a REAL surprise… I have had NO INTERNET at home since last Wednesday and it is awesome…. so Zen.

Alright… sorry, if I was a little stupid but I have been working the whole weekend in the bar so I hope I am excused.
Questions or suggestions? Leave me a comment…. hope you liked it and see you next time.

0%
220

Test yourself on "antworten" and "beantworten".

1 / 4

Which of the following statements  is false?

2 / 4

Which of the following is the best translation for this statement:
Where were you last night? Answer/ respond!”

3 / 4

Which of the following are grammatically correct? (multiple answers)

4 / 4

Which of the following is a grammatically correct translations for “I’ll answer you that.”?

Your score is

The average score is 58%

for members :)

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Lisa
Lisa

Thank you! Or, ich soll vielen Dank sagen! You are the deutsche-grammatik Koenig! I will be a fan forever. Keep up the posts please!

Shannon.Kennedy

Very helpful! Thanks!

Erik Andersen
Erik Andersen

Hey Emanuel… Another good one! Very helpful. I’ve tried to figure ‘antworten’ versus ‘beantworten’ out few times and not found an answer, so this sorts that one out! Now, the question is can you continue to help with a number of the other verbs with inseparable prefixes that also don’t have clear rules around usage. As I am still in the intermediate stage of my German learning and not get a huge chance to speak with natives, I often come across verbs that are prefixed with ‘ver’, ‘be’ or ‘er’ and have the equivalent unprefixed version that, when looking in a dictionary, appear to have the same meaning and it’s unclear when to use one over the other. As you know, quite often the prefix distinctly changes the meaning, but in many instances it doesn’t appear to. So, when to use one or the other often remains perplexing…I know some of learning this will come with practice in real life, but it would be nice to have some source that can help. Are there a number of other key verbs like the ‘antworten/beantworten’ example where the rules are clear? I can’t readily think of the examples that have bothered me, but ‘wählen’ and ‘erwählen’ are one’s I’ve recently come across. There are many more!

patrik.osgnach
patrik.osgnach

Hello Erik, I don’t know if you still need it, but my understanding is that the be- prefix often turns intransitive verbs into transitive ones, which means, they can take a direct object expressed with the accusative case

JEAP
JEAP

Emanuel, wie geht’s dir?
Kannst du mir eine Frage… beantworten?

(ENGLISH MODE ON)
I’m guessing that in the sentence “Ich antworte dir auf die Frage” the article in “die Frage” stays in the accusative form because it wouldn’t be grammatically correct to say/write “der Frage” which can be easily confused with the genitive case, am I right?
(ENGLISH MODE OFF…back to spanish)

Bash
Bash

Thank you for a wonderful blog! Keep it up!

Elle
Elle

Those verbs with prefix really drive me banana…. :'( So it is really really helpful! Thanks for your great work!!
Ich habe nur eine einfache Frage, und ich glaube, dass du mir das beantworten kannst (LOL! I have no idea if the sentense is grammatically correct.)
Wo warst du letzte Nacht? Antworte!
Can I also say Antworte mir! ?
Danke schön! :DDDD

Toma
Toma

Is it the same with nutzen and benutzen? Vielen Dank :)

patrik.osgnach
patrik.osgnach

Few months ago I asked the same question to my German teacher and he told me that benutzen is used with concrete objects while nutzen is more abstract. For example “ich benuzte deinen Computer” and “ich nutzte deine Fähigkeit”

dane
dane

Ich danke ihnen für die Erklärungen der nutzen und benutzen. Würde es möglich der Unterchied zwischen überreden und überzeugen zu erklären bitte?

Jack
Jack

Hi Emanuel,

I just want to be totally sure on one thing with beantworten. If I want to simply say “I’m sorry that I didn’t answer you”, then I’m not specifically mentioning what I’m answering, so would it still be “Es tut mir sehr leid, dass ich dir nicht beantwortet habe”, or is it “…dass ich DICH nicht…” because there is no specific object?

I totally get the “I answer the question to you” and why we use the dative, but I see just the “you” as the direct object in the sentence and therefore it would be accusative..

Thanks!

jaygopalanmusic
jaygopalanmusic

Hallo, bitte darauf antworten Sie, warum diese Episode war so kurz? Nein, ich bin nicht wirklich sauer, ich wollte nur das Wort “artworten” verwenden…

Danke für eine weitere geniale Episode! (Und bitte erzählen Sie mir alle Fehler, die ich gemacht habe)

Kim bjerkebek

as usual, sorry i asked…;-)

Nina
Nina

Thank you so much for your work and your incredibly useful site! I’d like to ask about such pairs of verbs as schnuppern-beschnuppern, schnüffeln-beschnüffeln, riechen-beriechen.

Gastleser
Gastleser

Super Seite, sehr schön beschrieben! Das hilft unseren deutschlernenden Freunden wirklich weiter, DAUMEN HOCH :D

Miña
Miña

Vielen, vielen Dank! I love your blog is always so clarifying, also the way you do it (jokes, references, examples, etc.) makes it easier to remember!!

Ferro
Ferro

Hello, I’ve recently discovered your blog and I am completely amazed. I am reading it from beginning to end. Thank you very much for the great effort you make.

Back to the topic, I still have a question. How would you say “to answer the phone”? Could it be “das Telefon beantworten”? My dictionary only says “ans Telefon gehen” or “rangehen”, but I remembered about “der Anrufbeantworter”…

Mairead
Mairead

As always, thanks again for this site. Could you please explain if there is a difference between zahlen and bezahlen? Also, when is your book coming out? I want a copy ASAP.

Anonymous
Anonymous

A German told me yesterday that “bezahlen” is specific as in your example: “Ich bezahle den Kaffee, er bezahlt den Tee.” Ich möchte zahlen – is used for anything in general. Das macht Sinn, oder?

MichaelVG
MichaelVG

So do you antworten an email or beantworten it?