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Verschieden, unterschiedlich, and anders

On Yabla German, you have probably come across these three words, which are most often all translated as "different." However, they are actually not always synonyms. The following distinction is to be taken with a grain of salt, but may be helpful:

 

anders = "different," implying "other" or "another"
verschieden = "different," implying "various" or "diverse"
unterschiedlich = "different," implying "dissimilar" 

 

Following this, you would say that these adjectives have unterschiedliche Bedeutungen, but not verschiedene Bedeutungen. What exactly is the correct usage of verschieden then?

 

Wir haben jetzt viele verschiedene Leute gefragt.
Now we've asked a lot of different people.
Caption 91, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Linkenheim

 

In the sentence above, the use of the adjective verschieden simply implies that a large number of people were asked about their New Year's resolutions in a survey. If the sentence used the phrase viele unterschiedliche Leute, it would emphasize that the people asked were different from each other, perhaps in terms of age or background. 

 

Es gibt ja unterschiedliche Gründe, warum Erwachsene spielen, ne...
There are indeed different reasons that adults play, right...
Caption 42, Gamification: Wie Spielen den Alltag interessanter macht

 

In this example, the opposite occurs, and the emphasis is on how dissimilar the reasons are, not the fact that a wide variety exists. 

 

Die Kündigung hat bestimmt andere Gründe.
The layoff probably has other reasons.
Caption 30, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

 

In this sentence, the use of andere Gründe emphasizes that there are reasons that are different from what has already been considered. Verschiedene Gründe would imply that there are a variety of reasons, while unterschiedliche Gründe would more likely be used if two people got fired for distinct reasons. 

 

Remember that anders can also be used with als for comparisons, which is not the case for the other two adjectives. 

 

Man kann hier natürlich noch andere Sachen tun als nur schwimmen.
You can, of course, do other things here besides just swimming.
Caption 6,  Berlin: Wannsee

 

Further Learning
There are many examples of these adjectives used on Yabla German. When you see them, ask yourself exactly which meaning is being implied. 
You might also want to watch this video, which looks at this tricky topic in more detail.

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