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"To Earn" and "To Deserve": The Verb Verdienen

The verb "to earn" in German is verdienen, and it is the verb we use when talking about earning money or making a living. 


Die Schwestern im Kloster

The sisters in the cloister

verdienen damit einen großen Teil ihres Lebensunterhalts.

earn a large portion of their livelihood with that.

Caption 39, Hostien für den Papst - Abtei Sankt Gertrud in Alexanderdorf

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But, like in English, you can also "earn" things other than money, such as a break or success. 


Das fühlt sich natürlich toll an,

Of course that feels great,

weil sich das auch so anfühlt, als hätte man sich das...

because it also feels as if we have...

verdient, weil man sich's erarbeitet hat.

earned it because we have worked for it.

Captions 15-16, Culcha Candela - zieht Bilanz

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Wenn man hier so viel ackert,

When you slog away here so much,

dann hat man mal eine Auszeit verdient.

you have at some point earned a break.

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier - Neben der Spur

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There are times when either the verb "to deserve" or "to earn" can be used in English, and in German verdienen is used in both cases. It is used for positive outcomes and negative circumstances alike. Note, however, that the tense may change in the translation.


Na und? Der hat auch seine Strafe verdient.

So what? He also deserves his punishment. 

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Also, ich finde, du hast den Preis echt verdient.

Well, I think you really deserved the prize.

Caption 91, Free Birds - Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

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Weil ich glaube, dass ein Typ wie Sie eine zweite Chance verdient hat.

Because I think a guy like you deserves a second chance.

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier - St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Further Learning
On Yabla German you can find the verb verdienen used to express both "to earn" and "to deserve." Pay attention to the tenses, which will not always align in English and German.

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