beweisen vs. erweisen

  • I keep getting Letztendlich hat sich diese Entscheidung als richtig erwiesen wrong because every time I guess bewiesen.

    What is the difference between beweisen and erweisen? The dictionary lists both as "to prove," so I would assume that either in past participal form would be acceptable.

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  • Moderator

    @Jonathan is on the right track, but the difference isn't about active or passive. "sich erweisen" is a reflexive verb, meaning the direct object and the subject are necessarily the same. So, the correct translation probably wouldn't be just "prove", but rather "prove itself": "The decision proved (itself) to be for the best", or "the decision turned out to be for the best".

    "Beweisen" on the other hand probably always acts on something other than the subject (maybe unless if we're talking artificial intelligence 😉 ).

    As a side note, there's also the non-reflexive verb "erweisen", that has a different meaning: "Ich erweise ihm einen Gefallen", "I do him a favor". "Ich erweise ihm eine Ehre", "I bestow an honor upon him", and so forth.

  • Lingvist graduate

    In my understanding is “erweisen” more passive than “beweisen”. When you actively prove something, then “beweist du es”. When something eventually turns out to be right, it is “erwiesen”. I hope that helps you.

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