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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: What is the difference between wohnen and leben?
Wohnen and leben can both be translated as “to live” and are often used interchangeably in German. For example, you could say, Ich wohne in Deutschland or Ich lebe in Deutschland and both would mean, “I live in Germany.”
However, wohnen is only used when talking about your current living situation and might be closest to the English verb “to reside.” For example, Ich wohne in einer Wohnung in einer Wohngegend means, "I live in an apartment in a residential area." Wohnen and Wohnung, which means “apartment,” have the same origin.
The verb leben can be used to express this, too, but is also used in the more literal sense, like Er lebt, which means, “he's alive.”
Let’s do some examples so you can see how to use wohnen and leben correctly.
In this sentence, Ich wohne in Berlin, which means, “I live or reside in Berlin,” wohnen is more commonly used than leben, because it's talking about your address. However, both verbs are possible.
The sentence, Meine Katze ist sehr alt, aber sie lebt noch which means, “My cat is very old but she's still alive,” uses the word leben, because it's talking about the physical state of your cat.
Here is a sentence that uses both leben and wohnen – Ich habe ein Jahr im Ausland gelebt und in einer WG gewohnt. This means, “I lived abroad for a year and lived/resided in a share house.”
When referring to an experience such as living abroad, leben is commonly used because it usually implies the experience of living rather than just where your address would be in that foreign country. However, when discussing the actual living situation, we used wohnen to talk about the share house, which in German is a WG or Wohngemeinschaft.
When in doubt, the verb leben is a safe bet as it always fits whenever you want to express "to live." Wohnen, however, can only be used when expressing living in the sense of "residing." It's more commonly used than the English verb "to reside" though.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”


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GermanPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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What German learning question do you have?

GermanPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:39 PM
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Hallo robert groulx,

Danke schön for posting and studying with us. Let us know if you have any questions. 😉

Kind regards,


Team GermanPod101.com

robert groulx
Thursday at 06:32 AM
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thank you for the lesson transcript

favorite sentence are , “I live or reside in Berlin,” wohnen is more commonly used than leben, because it's talking about your address. However, both verbs are possible.


Friday at 07:17 AM
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Hi Joe,

Thank you for your interest.

There are two common phrases:

1. Since you are still on formal terms, the best way would be to say "Sie können mich

gerne duzen."

2. If the speaker expects beforehand that the other person will agree to the informal "du", they

might be bold and use the "du" immediately: "Du kannst gerne du sagen."

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Kind regards,


Team GermanPod101.com

Joe B.
Saturday at 03:53 PM
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Guten Tag!

Hi, Team!

I really enjoy Anja's explanations, and find them helpful.

In a conversation between two persons ( using the formal " Sie " ), when one of them gives permission allowing them both to use "du, " what is the German expression that says, " Let's use 'du' ?

Vielen Dank!

♥ Joe B. 🗽


GermanPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 02:24 AM
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Hello JP Do Bahia,

Thank you for commenting.

The correct way of saying is "Schön, dich kennenzulernen." or "Schön, Sie kennenzulernen.". The first is the informal way of saying, the second one the formal version.

"Sie" is used with strangers and authorities (if they haven't invited you to use "du" with them).

Please let me know if you have further questions.



Team GermanPod101.com

JP Do Bahia
Sunday at 07:09 AM
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What's the difference between schön dich kunnzulen and schön sie kunnzulen