The meaning of “hängen” vs. “hängen” in German

The meaning of “hängen” vs. “hängen” in German

While teaching German classes online, I often experience how difficult it is for students to understand the difference between “hängen” and “hängen”. You might ask yourself now, which difference I am speaking about since both verbs look the same. This is exactly what I am going to explain in this article.

“hängen” vs. “hängen” in German

I agree that it seems very foolish to have the same two verbs and claim that they are different, but really, they are! It is the same in English, as you will realize in the following explanation. The verb “hängen” means to hang, and it can have two jobs:

“hängen” in the sense of movement

In German, we use the verb “hängen” if we would like to express that we hang something somewhere. As you can easily realize this means, that we perform a movement of whatever we decide to hang. Accordingly, the verb “hängen” is followed by the Accusative case.

E.g., Ich hänge den Mantel an den Haken. – I hang the coat on the hook.

 

“hängen” the sense of a state

In the same way, we do in English; we can use the verb “hängen” to show that something already hangs somewhere. Therefore, no further movement is needed, and the subject that hangs becomes an indirect object. This means that we would need to use the verb “hängen” in the Dative case here.

E.g., Der Mantel hängt an dem Haken. – The coat hangs on the hook.

 

Difference between “hängen” and “hängen” in German

After understanding the basic ideas of this verb, you might still wonder why I am talking about the difference between those to verbs. As in the present tense, both are the same, but when it comes to the past tenses like Präteritum or Perfekt in German, it becomes obvious why you should start to differentiate between both of them.

 

“hängen” as Accusative verb

Presens (simple present):

Ich hänge den Mantel an den Haken.

Präteritum (simple past):

Ich hängte den Mantel an den Haken.

Perfekt (present perfect):

Ich habe den Mantel an den Haken gehängt.

 

 

“hängen” as Dative verb

Presens (simple present):

Der Mantel hängt an dem Haken.

Präteritum (simple past):

Der Mantel hing an dem Haken

Perfekt (present perfect):

Der Mantel hat an dem Haken gehangen.

 

All the “hängens” are not the same

I hope that you could finally understand the difference between “hängen” and “hängen” in German. Remember: If you correctly understand the idea of Akkusativ and Dativ and study the different past tense forms of these two similar-appearing verbs, you will easily be able to use these two properly.

Feel free to let me know if you would like me to write about another specific German topic about which you wish to know.

 

Bis bald!

Steffie

 

 


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