Word of the Day – “der Grund”

Hello everyone

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of

der Grund


Gandalf, the White looked down between the
battlement into the black ocean of iron clad
And there, for the first time since Saruman had betrayed him,
a shiver ran down his spine.
But not what he saw made his heart feel weary
. It was what he heard.
For as the wooden carriage pulled ever forth by massive beasts slowly
 moved toward the gates that had withstood for centuries,
hundreds, then thousands of Orcs voices joined into a guttural choir
rhythmically chanting one word:
Grund, Grund, Grund…
Gandalf turned away. 
He needed to warn Bella, ASAP.

This is of course a scene from the movie “Return of the Mac”, the third part of Peter Jackson’s stellar movie adaptation of one of the greatest romantic fantasy pro marriage novels ever written: “The rings of the Lord” by Stephanie Meyer… …
Okay…  der Grund is of course not a huge iron clad wooden ram designed to break the gates of Gondor but it is a very massive sounding word anyway… like… imagine you have a heavy rock in your hand… and by heavy I mean heavier than metal and by rock I mean harder than… uh… Stones… …. … … … uhm …  what?… oh … yeah, puns actually were on sale…  in fact, they still are till Friday so if you wanne get so… anyway, so you have this massive boulder in your hands and then you drop it onto the grass and it makes this dull, deep thud-sound … “Grund“. You can feel your feet vibrate. That is how Grund sounds to me, massive, down to earth, stable…. and that makes the word super-fitting to what it originally means… ground. Like the beef.
If you’re confused now, let me tell you, I have been confused for years by the weird name ground beef… I thought of it as ground as in as in… soil beef and I couldn’t make sense of it. Like… why is it called that? Is it because the cattle feeds on stuff from the ground? Or because it is maybe not the best meat? Or because it looks like ground? Then eventually I figured out that it comes in fact from the verb to grind and it is the past pablahblabluh… and then, when I did my research for today I was quite surprised to find that  this is actually to grind is actually close to the origin of the words… the Indo European root *ghren- which meant something like “to rub hard over something, to grind“. So…. ground and Grund originally were used to refer to stuff like sand or gravel and only slowly took on the meanings they have today… the foundation, soil, bottom, land… it is hard to “umschreiben” what ground is :). By the way… there is also a German word Grind. It is pronounced “grint” and it is dry bloody stuff you peel off of a small wound… the English word is scab.

Anyway… so Grund can mean the same as ground but it is used mainly in fixed phrasings or compound nouns

Remember im Grunde genommen … it is really common :).
Now… Ground as in soil or earth under my feet is a very important thing. It supports us and if it good ground it allows things to grow. Soooo…. it makes some sense that der Grund would later take on a second meaning: reason. Because… reasons support our actions and reasons lead to things happening :).
Yep, it’s true. Der Grund is THE German word for reason. I think this is why Grund is not used that much to refer to ground anymore. Because it would be confusing.

Now… in English you say for a reason. In German you need to use the preposition aus… and again, it makes sense because stuff that grows like trees or flowers quite literally comes out of the soil.

The aus irgendeinem Grund is pretty common by the way.
Strangely, there the also the word aufgrund which is kind of just a short version of aus dem Grund… and still it uses auf. But anyway… aufgrund is pretty common especially in writing.

All right. Now before we move on to look at some other words with Grund in them I’d like to say a few words about the usage. First off, Grund is a very good translation for reason so long as reason is not shifted too much toward common sense.  This is especially important for words like to reason or reasonable. Translations for those  have nothing to do with Grund as the underlying idea is not so much the foundation, the cause.
And then, what we also should mention has to do with the following phrasings:

  • What is the reason for….
  • That is the reason why/for…

These phrasings sure exist. If you want to do it right you might need to use da-words…

But if you think now “Ugh… that is SO complicated”… well, the good news is that in German these phrasings are not used as much. Grund is a very massive sounding noun, pretty stiff and I feel like German likes things moving. So unless our context is formal to which stiff phrasings fit well, we’ll avoid the heavy boulder Grund and keep it simple using some lean adverbs:

Especially deshalb is really really common and is the best choice for English phrasings like the one above or that is why… so don’t ever say: das ist warum. Say deshalb ! Sounds soooo much more German.

All right. Now let’s look at some words with Grund in them. The first one is begründen and if you’ve read my article on the prefix be- you know that this can only mean “inflict reason on something”. Now begründen has many possible translations (check them at Dict.cc) but I think the essence is best captured by a combination of  to justify and to explain.

There is also a noun die Begründung which is not so much the reason but more the justification for something if that makes sense.

Then, there is also the verb gründen… and means to found… makes sense, I think ;)

In some weird rare phrasing, also begründen can mean to found but that is really nothing to worry about.
There is actually a third verb with Grund  … grundieren. This word is imitating real Latin based words like diskutieren or operieren but it has a rather limited range as it means to undercoat. So you want to paint your wall but first you have to put on there one layer of some chemical so your paint will stick well.

A quite common compound is the word Grundidee. This could be translated as basic idea or underlying idea.

Another noun is der Grundsatz. Satz alone is sentence but together with Grund it becomes…  well, guiding principle, policy or maxim. Based on this word is the word grundsätzlich … again, this has quite a number of possible translations but I think the idea is best captured by as a matter of principle.

And then finally there is a word which is kind of stereotypical for Germany… at least in my mind, it is like one of those qualities our teachers preached to us :). The word I mean is gründlich and it could be translated as thorough(ly) or in depth.

I really have to.
All right… I am sure that there are more words with Grund in them out there but I think it is enough for today. This was our German Word of the Day der Grund. It comes from ground but Germans soon used it in a metaphorical way so today it basically means reason.
If you have any questions or suggestions then you have a Grund to leave a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.

for members :)

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Emma in Euroland

Great post. Thanks! I have a question about begründen meaning to justify though. If this is the case, what is the difference between that and rechtfertigen? Thanks!


Brilliant :) Loved this post, and the intro was hilarious.

About these words you mentioned…

Aside from warum and darum, how do you use those other four words and what do they mean? It seems that there are so many words for ‘because of this’ or ‘that’s why’ that I’m getting a bit confused between the nuances between them.

Cheers :)


“Ich will nicht immer alles bergünden, was ich mache” oder “Ich will nicht immer alles begründen, was ich mache” :-)


Ich bin noch stark verwirt wie man richtig Deshalb benutzt, ist der Folgelnde Dialog korrekt?
F: Warum hast du das bloss gemacht?
A: Ich hab’s nur gemacht, um dich zu belästigen. dass ist ja deshalb.

… und wie immer, einfach tolles Post. Weiter so!:)


ohhhhhhhh, Ja, ganz klar, ich verstehe. Vielen Dank!


When do you use aufgrund and when do you use wegen, since they both seem to mean “because of” or “due to”.


In English we also use “ground” and “grounds” for “reason,” as in: On what grounds am I being arrested? or She has grounds for divorce.


Hi there,
first, thanks. Second, questions: you use Grund “von” Bauarbeiten, and “dafür” somewhere else. What would be the most common (failproof? foolproof?) preposition for Grund (the reason “for”). And another: I have been using “gründlich” as “basically” up until I read your post. I realize I was wrong. What would you advice as a good substitute for “basically” (meaning something like “the basis for” or, “when you look at it, it is reduced to” kind of meaning). I realize now that, English not being my mother language, I may not be using “basically” right, either!. But thanks again. I owe you dearly for your posts.


I’ve heard “das ist der Grund, dass …” before. Is this correct or colloquial (or wrong)? Thanks!


When you say you were “irritated” about the ground beef do you mean “confused”?

Ich lerne Deutsch seit über 10 Jahren und habe trotzdem unglaublich viel von deinem Blog gelernt! Ich lese mir gerade das Archiv durch.

Hab vielen Dank und mach bitte weiter so!


I googled Der Grund to find the meaning, after encountering it in “Hard Fall” by Ridley Pearson, a crime mystery novel dealing with sabotaging airplanes to fall at a certain moment. In the first chapter, the phrase is introduced in a long sentence, “A year earlier, Backman had pilfered a file from Daggett’s desk, hand-carried it to the Special-Agent-in-Charge, and claimed credit for its authorship — a file that connected Bernard with the little-known West German terrorist group Der Grund.”

Simon Boyd
Simon Boyd

Vielen Dank für noch ein hilfreiches Wort des Tages . bin so viel mal in Schwierigkeit gekommen wann ich brauche das englisches Wort” the reason”. Aber ein kurze Frage dazu . du hast nicht uber der Plural gesprochen. Wie kann man sagen zB. “There can be reasons for this, but the most likely for me is..”. I need this sentence a lot for work!


Hey I’ve got a question how do german folks use grundsätzlich cause in my dictionary reverso context it shows me basically and fundamentally do they usually use it when stating the general case before stating an exception or also like im grunde genommen when summarising something:)


This is of course a scene from the movie “Return of the Mac”, the third part of Peter Jackson’s stellar movie adaptation of one of the greatest romantic fantasy pro marriage novels ever written: “The rings of the Lord” by Stephanie Meyer… …

You give me Whiplash every time you do something like this

Burns Grund
Burns Grund

Definitely an interesting discussion regarding Grund. I’ve always thought it only meant “ground”. Resulting in a lot of my ancestors involved in farming and land-owning.