German edit

Etymology edit

From Middle High German phlëgen, from Old High German plëgan, from Proto-West Germanic *plehan.

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˈpfleːɡən/, [ˈpfleːɡən], [ˈpfleːɡŋ̩] (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ˈfleːɡən/ (most speakers in northern and central Germany)
  • (file)

Verb edit

pflegen (weak, third-person singular present pflegt, past tense pflegte, past participle gepflegt, auxiliary haben) or
pflegen (class 4 strong, third-person singular present pflegt, past tense pflog, past participle gepflogen, past subjunctive pflöge, auxiliary haben)

  1. Providing care or service for someone/something. [weak verb]
    1. (transitive, medicine) to nurse; to care for someone in poor health
      jemanden gesund pflegento nurse someone back to health
      Kranke pflegento care for the sick
    2. (transitive) to take care of, to tend to, to maintain
      sein Äußeres pflegento take care of one's appearance
      die Zähne pflegento take care of (one's) teeth
      Der Gärtner pflegt den Garten.The gardener tends to the garden.
      Sie hat sich stets sehr gepflegt.She has always taken care of her appearance. (literally, “She has always taken care of herself.”)
      Er setzte sich faul hin und pflegte sich.He sat down lazily and went easy on himself. (literally, “He sat down lazily and looked after himself.”)
      Daten pflegento maintain data (keep up-to-date)
      1. (intransitive, archaic, with genitive)
        • 1781, Friedrich Schiller, Die Räuber: Ein Schauspiel, Frankfurt und Leipzig, page 43:
          Daheim labt er sich mit süssem köstlichem Wein, und pflegt seiner morschen Glieder in Kissen von Eider, während sein grosser herrlicher Sohn darbt.
          At home, he refreshes himself with sweet, delectable wine and cares for his decaying limbs with cushions of down feathers, all while his wonderful and charming son starves.
  2. To improve or care for something in an intellectual sense. [weak or strong verb]
    1. (transitive) to cultivate; to foster; to nurture; to maintain
      Freundschaften pflegento cultivate friendships
      Beziehungen pflegento cultivate relationships
      Künste und Wissenschaften pflegento advance/promote the arts and sciences
      1. (intransitive, higher register or poetic, with genitive)
        der Liebe pflegento cultivate/nurture love
        der Ruhe pflegento foster tranquility
  3. Expressing habituality. [weak or strong verb]
    1. (transitive) to carry out regularly
      Umgang pflegento regularly be in contact
      Geselligkeit pflegento socialize regularly (literally, “to regularly engage in gregariousness”)
    2. (intransitive, with “zu” followed by an infinitive verb) to perform habitually; to be accustomed (to doing something); to be in the habit (of doing something)
      Ich pflege zu laufen.I usually walk.
      Er pflegte zu reisen.He used to travel.

Usage notes edit

  • In the sense of providing care or service, pflegen is conjugated as a weak verb.
  • For the other senses, both weak and strong conjugations are found. The weak conjugation is prevalent; the strong conjugation is generally dated or used in a higher register.

Conjugation edit


Derived terms edit

Further reading edit