How to Say To Put in German

by Expath Language School

Putting something somewhere in German is not as easy as it may seem.

Not an Easy Translation

In the sense of placing or positioning an object somewhere, the word “to put” is tricky in German. Although platzieren and positionieren can be used, these words are somewhat formal and not too common in everyday usage. The word hintun (essentially “to do something somewhere”), on the other hand, is quite informal.

Rather, the most common way to indicate that something is placed somewhere depends on the position that the object has once it’s been placed:

  • If the thing ends up lying somewhere, the word is legen (“to lay”, not to be confused with liegen, which means “to lie”)

  • If the object comes to rest in a standing position the word is stellen (not to be confused with stehen, which is “to stand”)

  • If the object is hanging, the word is hängen

  • If it’s plugged or stuck somewhere the word is stecken

  • If it’s sitting the word is setzen (not to be confused with sitzen, which is “to sit”).

For grammar buffs, it is important to note that such words take the accusative, whereas their counterparts that indicate the position are in dative.


Ich lege den Stift auf den Tisch. I am putting/laying the pen onto the table.

Der Stift liegt auf dem Tisch. The pen is (lying) on the table.

Ich stelle das Buch in das Regal. I am putting/setting the book into the shelf.

Das Buch steht in dem Regal. The book is (standing) in the shelf.

Ich hänge das Bild an die Wand. I am putting/hanging the picture onto the wall.

Das Bild hängt an der Wand. The picture is hanging on the wall.

Ich stecke den USB-Stick in den Computer. I am putting/sticking the flashdrive into the computer.

Der USB-Stick steckt in dem Computer. The flashdrive is (sticking) in the computer.

Note: “To put on” in the sense of “to dress” is anziehen in German.

Ich ziehe Jeans an. I am putting on jeans.

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