Lezioni Tedesco

Argomenti

An experience or life experience?

For this week's lesson, we will look at the nouns das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung, and the related verbs erleben and erfahren

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Consider the three examples below:

 

Das ist einfach das beste Erlebnis, das man als Künstler haben kann.

That is simply the best experience that you can have as an artist.

Caption 17, Helge Schneider - Auf der Bühne geht's mir gut

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Also, das war eigentlich eine sehr tolle Erfahrung.

Well, that was actually a really great experience.

Caption 21, Eva Croissant - Interview - Part 2

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Ich bin selbst Mutter von zwei wundervollen Kinder [sic, Kindern] und spreche aus eigener Erfahrung.

I myself am the mother of two wonderful children and speak from my own experience.

Captions 5-6, Cettina interviewt - Mütter

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In English, the word "experience" has a few definitions. In the first two sentences, the speaker is referring to a particular instance of encountering or undergoing something. In the third sentence, they are referring to the knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what they have observed, encountered, or undergone. In German, it is possible to use both das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung to describe this first kind of "experience." However, when we are talking about life experience, only die Erfahrung is appropriate in German. 

 

The verbs erleben and erfahren similarly can both indicate the process of experiencing something:

 

Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden, ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.

It should become a place of living democracy, a building for everyone who wants to experience politics next to their skin [idiom, up close].

Captions 16-17, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Ich denk', jeder muss für sich selber wissen, wo er hinfährt und wie er da ist und welche Länder und was er dort erfahren will.

I think everyone has to know for himself where he's heading and how he is there and which countries and what he wants to experience there.

Captions 41-42, Anna - Am Strand in Mexiko

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

However, erfahren is also often used to express learning of or finding out about something new:

 

Wir haben nichts gefilmt. -Niemand wird davon erfahren.

We didn't film anything. -Nobody will find out about it.

Caption 30, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 4

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Further Learning
Conjugate erfahren and erleben and search for the various conjugations (erfahre, erfährst, etc.) on Yabla German to find more examples of the verbs used in context. Try to guess what the words das Erlebnisbad, das Erlebnisgeschenk, der Erlebnispark, erlebnisreich, and die Erlebniswelt mean now that you have an understanding of the word Erlebnis. 

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