The German language is not only pluricentric, but also versatile enough to have several words sharing the same meaning with the slightest of differences. One of the words that grab our attention is “to stay”. While in English “to stay” means the same, and has no alternatives, the case isn’t the same with German. When you take up a German language course in cp, you will be surprised the number of variants that the word “to stay” has.

To stay in German can have different forms. While most German speakers are aware about only one word, which is bleiben, there are better options to say to stay in German instead of this word in specific situations to sound like a native.


You have a couple of choices to say to stay in German. The first two alternatives are highlighted in the sentences below:

Ich werde bei einem Freund wohnen.

Ich übernachte bei einem Freund.

Both the sentences translate to: I am staying with a friend. Here, wohnen and übernachte are the two words which mean “to stay” in German. While both the words can be used interchangeably, there is a tiny difference that draws a line between them.

Wohnen means ‘to live’ and übernachte means to ‘stay over’. Though these words have different literal translations, they both express the fact that you are staying somewhere. If you are looking for some more in depth information, we have that as well. Here are the situations that describe the exact usage of the two words:

When to use wohnen

This words is best used when you stay for a longer period of time. It translated to “to live”. So you can use this word when you are living at somewhere for longer than usual.

When to use übernachte

Use the word übernachte when you are staying as a part of an excursion or a trip. It translates to “to stay over”. So you can use this word when you’re on a vacation.

Though both the words have slightly different meanings, they still can be used in an alternate fashion.

Did you know that Germans talk about the future by using the present tense? Do you know why they do it? Because, it’s easier. That’s why Germans aren’t friends with the future tense.

Here’s an example:

Ich werde im Hotel wohnen.

In the above sentence, the literal translation is “I will live at a hotel.”

But instead of using that, this is what the Germans say:

Ich wohne im Hotel. 

Here, the sentence translates to: “I live at a hotel”. However, the Germans don’t mind using the present tense.


Another set of alternatives that to stay in German past tense is bleiben/ sein. For example:

Ich blieb (für) fünf Tage in Berlin. 

The sentence translates to “I stayed in Berlin for five days.”

Bleiben means “to stay” and sein means “to be”. So amid all this confusion, how do you use the right word? Here’s a formula to help you remember it:

The case of wohnen / übernachten:

Use the formula: wohnen / übernachten + duration of the stay + the person with you’re staying

The case of bleiben/ sein:

Use the formula: bleiben/ sein + duration + location

In this case the person with whom you’re staying doesn’t matter.


Now that you are well versed with the word “to stay” and its forms, we are sure that you will pass with flying colors. For more in depth knowledge about German words and concepts, study German from the Best German Language Institute in Delhi.

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