Difference between “ausdrucken” and “ausdrücken” in German

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

The verbs “drucken” and “drücken” in German are often confused by non-native speakers, especially by those who cannot pronounce the vowel “ü” (to pronounce it, say “oo” as in “food” with your lips and “ee” as in “feed” with your tongue at the same time). They have the following meanings:

drückento press; to push
druckento print

It is quite understandable that the word for “print” would sound similar to “press”; printing used to be done with a printing press, after all, and print media (and their employees) are commonly called “the press” in English.

When the prefix aus- is added, the meaning of “drucken” does not change significantly, and it can be, depending on the context, translated as “to print out” or yet again as “to print”:

ausdruckento print (out)

The situation is slightly more complicated with “ausdrücken”. It can take the literal meaning, that is,

ausdrückento press out, to squash

but it more commonly has a different meaning, whose translation into English is, oddly enough, also formed by simply adding a prefix to the meaning of “drücken”:

ausdrückento express (oneself, a thought, etc.)

To summarize: When you talk about anything related to printing, use the version without the umlaut. When you want to talk about thoughts and opinions, use “ü”:

ausdruckento print (out)
ausdrückento express (a thought)

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