German Lessons


"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. 


Was verdient denn der Durchschnittsmensch in Deutschland?

What does the average person earn in Germany?

Caption 20, LUKE! Die Woche und ich: Kinderquatsch mit Luke

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Die Schwestern im Kloster verdienen damit einen großen Teil ihres Lebensunterhalts,

The sisters in the cloister 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, weil sich das auch so anfühlt, als hätte man sich das verdient, weil man sich's erarbeitet hat.

Of course that feels great, because it also feels as if we have 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, dann hat man mal eine Auszeit verdient.

When you slog away here so much, 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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