top of page

Sehr vs. Viel - What is The Difference in German?

Updated: Jan 22

Little words are often tricky to use in German, and it’s easy to see why students struggle to distinguish between “sehr” and “viel” since both have a similar meaning. This post will explain the difference and help you use them correctly moving forward.

Navigating the Fine Line between Sehr and Viel in German

In the labyrinth of German language intricacies, even seemingly small words can pose significant challenges. One such pair that often perplexes learners is "sehr" and "viel." Both carry a similar meaning, often translated as "very" or "a lot," making their differentiation a common stumbling block. This blog post is your guide to unraveling the distinctions between "sehr" and "viel," helping you wield these words with precision in your German expressions. Let's dive into the intricacies and master the art of choosing between these two linguistic allies.

The Adverb Sehr

The adverb "sehr," translating to "very," serves dual purposes—it describes an adjective and conveys the intensity of an action.

  • Die Verkäuferin war sehr nett. (The sales assistant was very nice)

  • Ich freue mich sehr auf meinen Urlaub. (I very much look forward to my holiday)

  • Das Essen hat mir sehr gut geschmeckt. (The food was very tasty to me)

Viel in German- Adverb or Adjective?

On the other hand, "viel" translates as "a lot" or "much" when functioning as an adverb, and as "many" when employed as an adjective. Delve into the intricacies of "viel" and "viele" in my dedicated article, and explore why saying "vielen Dank" is correct, but not "viel Spaß" or "viel Erfolg."

  • Er arbeitet viel. (He works a lot)

  • Es macht viel Sport. (He exercises a lot)

  • Viele Leute denken, dass Deutsch eine schwierige Sprache ist. (Many people think that German is a difficult language)

Sehr and Viel Combined

To add a layer of complexity, we can amplify the intensity of "viel" by combining it with "sehr."

  • Er arbeitet sehr viel. (He works too much)

  • Er macht sehr viel Sport. (Same translation as above, with emphasis on a lot of sport)

The silver lining is that "sehr" merely intensifies the meaning of "viel," ensuring a consistent application. Dive deeper into the realm of adjectives in German, including their declensions, comparatives, and superlatives. Explore other perplexing pairs of adjectives and adverbs, such as "am meisten" vs. "meistens," and unravel the word order of adverbs in German sentences on our German language blog.


Featured Posts

bottom of page