Zahl vs. Nummer

Hermocrates

Senior Member
Italian & British English (bilingual)
Hi! Could you please tell me the difference (if any) between Zahl and Nummer in German?

I checked in the WR dictionary but it seems to me that they are synonymous. Is that so? Are there any differences in the use of these two terms?

vielen Dank

Rye
 
  • zapateado

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Does Zahlen also have the feeling, though not necessarily the intended meaning or usage, of counting, or a counting, or an accounting? I think of this because of the verb erzahlen, to tell, recite, or recount.
     

    çamegonfle

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    zahlen: to pay

    zählen: to count

    erzählen: to tell, recite, recount (die Erzählung: the story)

    They all have a commun origin but are felt like different meanings I would say.
     

    EvilWillow

    Senior Member
    German (Germany)
    Zahlen: 0-9

    Nummer: 0-infinity

    Eine Nummer besteht aus Zahlen.
    Eine Zahl ist sicherlich nicht auf die Ziffern 0 bis 9 beschränkt. Eine Zahl kann beliebig groß sein!

    Nummern kennzeichnen etwas Bestimmtes (Telefonnummer) oder geben eine Reihenfolge (Hausnummer, Zimmernummer) an. Mit Nummern kann man im Gegensatz zu Zahlen keine Rechenoperationen durchführen (was sollte z. B. die Summe aus zwei Telefonnummern darstellen?).
     

    Hermocrates

    Senior Member
    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    Eine Zahl ist sicherlich nicht auf die Ziffern 0 bis 9 beschränkt. Eine Zahl kann beliebig groß sein!

    Nummern kennzeichnen etwas Bestimmtes (Telefonnummer) oder geben eine Reihenfolge (Hausnummer, Zimmernummer) an. Mit Nummern kann man im Gegensatz zu Zahlen keine Rechenoperationen durchführen (was sollte z. B. die Summe aus zwei Telefonnummern darstellen?).
    I'm sorry, I don't really understand the second part (Nummern kennzeichnen...etc). I'm a complete beginner...

    I did notice that Nummer is used in compound nouns such as Hausnummer, Zimmernummer, Telefonnummer, which all make sense to me. But why wouldn't Zahl be used in that case?

    Danke!

    Rye
     

    Savra

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    Synonym können sie nicht gebraucht werden. Es gibt zum Beispiel die Hausnummer, Telefonnummer, Kontonummer oder Registrierungsnummer; hier läßt sich Nummer nicht durch Zahl ersetzen.

    Nummern dienen der Identifikation. 9580810 ist eine Telefonnummer; niemand sieht das als die Zahl Neunmillionenfünfhundert… an. Nummern könnten zudem sogar Buchstaben enthalten, etwa die Hausnummer 49a. Mit Nummern wird etwas geordnet, durchnummeriert.

    Zahlen dienen zum Rechnen oder Zählen. Die Zahl 2100 ist größer als 2000; auch hier kann man Zahl ebenfalls nicht durch Nummer ersetzen. Im Gegensatz zu Nummern müssen Zahlen nicht aus Ganzzahlen bestehen, etwa 0,315.
     

    zapateado

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Originally Posted by çamegonfle
    Zahlen: 0-9
    Nummer: 0-infinity
    Eine Nummer besteht aus Zahlen.

    Vielleicht in "Zahlen: 0-9" gibt es die Idee "integer" wie mann auf English sagt.
     

    EvilWillow

    Senior Member
    German (Germany)
    Nummern designate something specific, such as a phone number, or indicate the order of something, such as house numbers or room numbers. In contrast to Zahlen, you cannot apply arithmetic operators to Nummern. You may, for instance, add two telephone numbers (Telefonnummern) as if they were Zahlen, but the result is completely meaningless.
     

    Hermocrates

    Senior Member
    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    Nummern designate something specific, such as a phone number, or indicate the order of something, such as house numbers or room numbers. In contrast to Zahlen, you cannot apply arithmetic operators to Nummern. You may, for instance, add two telephone numbers (Telefonnummern) as if they were Zahlen, but the result is completely meaningless.
    Thank you very much! it makes sense :)

    Rye
     

    Vince12000

    New Member
    English
    I am a rank beginner at German, but have studied some mathematics and will comment from this standpoint. Mine will not be a complete or definitive answer, but might be helpful nevertheless to some degree. And it can't be worse then some of the answers above :=)
    You probably know that in math, English-speaking folks talk about positive numbers, negative numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, irrational numbers, etc. Doing so, they are talking about classifications or kinds of numbers, not any particular set of digits and decimal points. If I were to rewrite the last two sentences in German, I would not use the word Nummer or its plural. I would use Zahl and its plural. And in English I could write that that the division of the number 4 by the number 2 gives a quotient equal to the number 2, again using the word number. And if I were to rewrite that in German, I would use the word Nummer, not Zahl. 27.50 is a Nummer, whether it is my home address, my grocery bill total, my age or the number of times I've tried to understand the difference between Nummer and Zahl. Whether or not it makes mathematical or common sense in a particular context to perform arithmetic operations with 27.50 (square it, cube it, take the arc tangent of it) is irrelevant; 27.50 is a Nummer. It is not a Zahl. So, I believe, that if one writes "The U.S. unemployment numbers...", and wants to translate that into German, Zahlen would be the appropriate word to use for "numbers." But if he/she wants to translate "The U.S. unemployment rate is above 9%", that 9 is a nummer, not a Zahl. Again, I realize that this reply is not complete. But I hope it clarifies one small corner of the question.
     
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    Kurtchen

    Senior Member
    German - Norddeutschland
    Generally speaking, math deals with Zahlen only. In real life, if a Zahl is assigned to something or someone, it becomes a Nummer, see Patrick McGoohan :)
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    "Nummern" are always integers and thus subset of "Zahlen".

    "Zahlen" are composed of "Ziffern". Zahlen are always unique but there are just 10 Ziffern.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    ...
    You probably know that in math, English-speaking folks talk about positive numbers, negative numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, irrational numbers, etc. Doing so, they are talking about classifications or kinds of numbers, not any particular set of digits and decimal points. If I were to rewrite the last two sentences in German, I would not use the word Nummer or its plural. I would use Zahl and its plural:tick:. And in English I could write that that the division of the number 4 by the number 2 gives a quotient equal to the number 2, again using the word number. And if I were to rewrite that in German, I would use the word Nummer, not Zahl.:cross: you would say: "Die Division der Zahl/des Wertes 4 mit der Zahl/mit dem Wert 2 ergibt die Zahl/den Wert 2" - usually I would use Wert or omit the word ("Die Division von 4 und 2 ergibt 2") but 27.50 is a Nummer:cross: It is a Wert or a Zahl in case of calculations, ... whether it is my home address, my grocery bill total, my age or the number of times I've tried to understand the difference between Nummer and Zahl.:cross: It depends. It is a "Nummer" in the most of the cases. A Nummer is a kind of Zahl but not every Zahl is a Nummer. Whether or not it makes mathematical or common sense in a particular context to perform arithmetic operations with 27.50 (square it, cube it, take the arc tangent of it) is irrelevant; 27.50 is a Nummer.:cross: It is not a Zahl. So, I believe, that if one writes "The U.S. unemployment numbers...", and wants to translate that into German, Zahlen would be the appropriate word to use for "numbers.":tick: this is correct, but usually we say "die Anzahl der Arbeitslosen" rather than "die Zahl der Arbeitslosen." But if he/she wants to translate "The U.S. unemployment rate is above 9%", that 9 is a nummer, not a Zahl.:cross: in this case I would use "Wert", but a Wert is a Zahl. A Wert is usually not a Nummer. (May be in some context, but at the moment I cannot imagine.) Again, I realize that this reply is not complete. But I hope it clarifies one small corner of the question.
    We have following relevant words here

    Zahl (mathematics, it represents a value or a mathematical number, --- on coins it represents the side with the number, the other side is "Wappen")
    Anzahl (it represents a value or a number of elements - it is an integer value)
    Wert (it represents the value of a number, for example; Wert des Realteils und Wert des Imaginärteils einer komplexen Zahl)
    Nummer (it is a name or term to describe something with numbers, usually it looks like an integer number, but formatting depends on context, example: Telefonnummer, Hausnummer, Bauelementenummer). Usually you have a finite sequence of "Nummern".
    Ziffer (In mathematics it is a digit. In law it is a part of a paragraph.)
     
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    Hi folks,

    I'd describe it like this:

    - Zahl is a mathematic value wich you can perform mathematic operations (calculations) with. A Zahl always consists of digits (0-9).
    Exception: We say Postleitzahl (zip code) and Lottozahlen (lottery numbers) although there's no mathematical operation possible, but they still consist of digits.

    - Nummer is a designation, a label for something. You can compare it with Name. A Name usually consists of letters (A-Z, a-z), while a Nummer can consist of both digits and letters
    Examples: Hausnummer 38b, Seriennummer CGZ564-008, Telefonnummer 0049-711-890..., etc.

    Hope this helped.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    And it can't be worse then some of the answers above :=)
    Sorry having to tell you that but it can. All but one of your examples are wrong (see Hutschi's post). EvilWillow's answer (#9) is correct.

    have studied some mathematics
    Then let be explain the difference in mathematical terms: You use Nummer for values of numeric variables on a nominal or ordinal scale. For values of variables on a metric scale you use Zahl. In other words: A Nummer is a numeric identifier or a rank, a Zahl is a quantity.

    Bahiano listed some exceptions where Zahl is used for nominally scaled variables. There are no inverse exception: Nummer can never be used for variables on a metric scale, i.e. a Nummer is never a quantity.
     
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