Bestimmt vs. Auf jeden FallWhat's the difference?

Whats the difference between bestimmt & auf jeden Fall? The two phrases come with slightly different levels of certainty. Let's explore what that means!

Quick Answer

The difference between bestimmt & auf jeden Fall is that bestimmt expresses a very high likelihood for something, whereas auf jeden Fall is used when you are 100% certain. "Bestimmt" is also often used when you want to express hope.

Questions about the difference between bestimmt & auf jeden Fall come up surprisingly often with German learners.

This is quite surprising, as the difference is pretty straightforward. In this quick blog post, we're going to have a look at when to use which.

Bestimmt vs. Auf jeden Fall

The reason for this confusion is that you often hear people use these two expressions in very similar contexts and with very similar meanings:

Kommt Martin morgen auf die Party?
Is Martin coming to the party tomorrow?
Martin kommt auf jeden Fall! Ich habe gestern mit ihm gesprochen.
Martin is definitely coming! I spoke to him yesterday.
Und Erik?
And Erik?
Ich habe Erik länger nicht gesehen, aber der kommt bestimmt auch.
I haven't seen Erik in a while, but he'll probably come too.

Do you understand how these two expressions mean different things in this example dialogue?

Let's see what exactly the difference is.

What's the difference?

In everyday usage, it often seems like there is no substantial difference in meaning.

However, using bestimmt implies that you are a little less sure about what you are saying - even though you are heavily rooting for one option. You are quite hopeful - but it does not amount to 100% certainty.

Use bestimmt to express hope

It's often use when you want to express that you are hopeful about something:

Die Prüfung morgen früh wirst du ganz bestimmt super schaffen!

There is an element of hope in here, similar to saying: "You will ace the exam tomorrow, that I'm sure of!" or "Fingers crossed! 🤞"

However, you could also use bestimmt to express your lack of hope:

Ich habe noch 2 Tage Zeit um das Buch auswendig zu lernen. Das schaffe ich bestimmt nicht!

You are 98% sure that you are not going to succeed in memorizing this book for the day of the exam. But you're not giving up just yet: You could be wrong.

Agreement Phrases

certainly, probably
auf jeden Fall
absolutely / ~ for sure
mit Sicherheit
certainly / with (absolute) certainty
in jedem Fall
in any case


We have looked at the differences between bestimmt & auf jeden Fall. In the beginning, this difference can be tricky for learners, as it sounds often like native speakers use both phrases interchangably.

But once you know that bestimmt implies a little less certainty than auf jeden Fall, everything should make a lot more sense.


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