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See also: Zahlen and zählen





From Middle High German zaln, zalen, from Old High German zalōn, from Proto-West Germanic *talōn, from Proto-Germanic *talōną (to tell, recount; to count, reckon). Cognate with Bavarian zoin, English tale, Dutch talen, Swedish tala, Danish tal. Equivalent to Zahl +‎ -en.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtsaːln̩/, /ˈtsaːlən/
  • Audio (Germany):(file)
  • Audio (Austria):(file)



zahlen (weak, third-person singular present zahlt, past tense zahlte, past participle gezahlt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (transitive or intransitive with an + accusative) to pay (money)
    Ich muss meine Steuern zahlen.
    I have to pay my taxes.
    Er muss noch die Gebühr an die Verwaltung zahlen.
    He still has to pay the fee to the administration.
  2. (transitive, figurative, with für + accusative) to pay for, to atone for
    Ich will keinen Fehler machen, für den ich später zahlen muss.
    I don't want to make a mistake that I'll have to pay for later.

Usage notes

  • In many circumstances, zahlen and bezahlen are more or less interchangeable. However, there are some cases where only one choice can be used. When the purpose of the payment is mentioned, for example reparations, hush money, tribute, etc., then zahlen is used. When the person being paid, or the items or services that are being paid for, are mentioned, then bezahlen is used.
    • Die Aktien zahlten eine Dividende von 7%.The stocks paid a dividend of 7%.
    • Wer bezahlt die Reparaturen?Who pays for the repairs?
    • Oftmals werden die Lehrer nicht genug bezahlt.Often the teachers aren't paid enough.



Derived terms


See also


Further reading

  • zahlen” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • zahlen” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
  • zahlen” in Duden online
  • zahlen” in