Antworten and beantworten

Dear German learners,

In the past days I was asked the same question by my students several times: "but what is the difference between “antworten” and “beantworten?”. As many of you might have the same question, I decided to bring this topic up in the community forum. :grinning:

So, when do we use “antworten” and when “beantworten” instead? Indeed, in English, both verbs just mean “to answer”. The difference lies in the grammar…


  • Without preposition the verb asks for DATIVE (WEM antworten wir?). Therefore, after the verb we need a person, and not a thing.
    Eg. Laura antwortet DEM Lehrer.
  • If we want to use antworten with a thing we need a preposition, eg. AUF, which asks for accusative.
    Eg. Laura antwortet AUF DEN Brief.
  • In German we can also say how we answer. In this case we also need a preposition, eg. MIT, which again asks for accusative.
    Eg. Laura antwortet MIT EINEM Nicken (head nodding).


  • The verb asks for ACCUSATIVE (WAS beantworten wir?).
  • Here, the “be-” gives us the option to replace the preposition AUF in the way that we can make the sentence without preposition, even if we want to use the verb with a thing.
    Eg. Laura beantwortet DEN Brief.

I tried to keep the explanation as simple as possible and I hope that it helps some of you to better understand these two verbs… :blush:

Keep up studying :grinning:

Sunny greetings from Egypt,


@Aline4 sehr gute Erklärung. Danke :slight_smile:

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Very well explained :ok_hand: Thank you for your effort :slightly_smiling_face:

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Very well explained!
But MIT asks for dative, not accusative :slight_smile: