In English, we put the butter in the fridge, the plate on the table or the hat on the head. We can do this with only one verb. However, in German; we need three different verbs to express this! After this article and its free worksheet, you will know the difference between stellen, legen and setzen.


“To put” in German

Depending on your first language, you might already know the concept of the verbs “stellen, legen, setzen”. For everybody who does not know it yet, I will give you a brief introduction in the following.


In German, we separate the English verb “to put” in three verbs: “stellen”, “legen” and “setzen”. Accusative always follows all of them because they are referring to an active object:

  1. legen = meaning: to make sth. lay down
  2. stellen = meaning: to cause sth. to stand
  3. setzen = meaning: to cause sth. to sit


Recommended study materials on the topic:

    1. A-Grammar: Practice German grammar German (incl. answers)
    2. German self-study book for A1-B1 (incl. answers)
    3. Basic grammar knowledge of German (incl. answers)


Accusative vs. Dative

Now, you might ask yourself when to use which of the German verbs when you only need to use one verb in English. The answer is not so complicated because “legen”, “stellen” and “setzen” are the Accusative forms of the Dative verbs “liegen”, “stehen” and “sitzen”.


  1. legen vs. liegen = You need first to lay sth. down so it can finally lay down
  2. stellen vs. stehen = You need to cause sth. to stand before it can finally stand
  3. setzen vs. sitzen = You need to cause sth. to sit before it can finally sit


This means that if you know that in German a plate “stands” on the table and you would like to say that you put it on the table, you can be sure that the suitable verb is “stellen” because you will cause the plate to stand.


Reflexive verbs

All of these verbs are also available as a reflexive version which means that one is doing it with oneself:

  1. Ich lege mich ins Bett. (Akk.) I am still doing the action – Ich liege im Bett. (Dat.) –  I finished with the movement
  2. Ich stelle mich auf das Trampolin. (Akk.) I am still doing the action – Ich stehe auf dem Trampolin. (Dat.) – I finished with the movement
  3. Ich setze mich auf den Stuhl. (Akk.) I am still doing the movement – Ich sitze auf dem Stuhl. (Dat.) – I finished with the action



Now, after reading this article, you should be a pro regarding these three verbs, and you can practice your knowledge in the free Worksheet: The dilemma of using “put” in German.


Bis bald!



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