Is there a significant difference between fertig and bereit ? When is each of them used, and when are they completely interchangeable? What is the correct use of these words with the prepositions mit, für and zu ? Let’s review it all in today’s article!

I am sure that most of you make the mistake of using the adverb fertig, and don’t even realize it. Imagine a situation when you come to a German lesson or an exam and the teacher asks you if you are ready. In response, you, without thinking twice, answer: Ja, ich bin fertig (Yes, I’m ready). Admit it, was it like that?

This is where the catch awaits you. Because, as a rule, fertig means “finished, done”. Then in a situation with a question whether you are ready for a lesson / exam, fertig is not applicable. Because we have not yet started the action, which, according to our words, has already been completed.

Therefore, in this case, you need the word bereit , which means “ready, prepared”.

Sind Sie für die Prüfung bereit(Are you ready for the exam?)

Ja, ich bin für die Prüfung bereit . (Yes, I’m ready)

And only after your exam is written, you can say: Ich bin fertig .

Let’s consider the cases of using each of the adverbs separately.


The synonym for fertig is erledigt .

For example:

  • Wenn ihr die Aufgabe erledigt habt, werde ich eure Ergebnisse prüfen. (When you complete the assignment, I will check your results)

It is important to remember that the word fertig , when it comes before a noun, is used with the preposition mit . In this case, the noun article is used in the dative case, since the preposition mit refers to the Dativ .

So, we got the phrase fertig mit etwas sein .

Let’s look at the examples:

  • Ich bin mit dem Gespräch fertig . (I ended the conversation)
  • Ich bin mit der Vorbereitung fast fertig . (I’m almost done with my preparations)
  • Ist sie mit dem Kochen schon fertig ? (Has she finished cooking yet?)

Another interesting expression with fertig, which shows that you are very tired of something (mentally) :

  • Meine Nachbarn machen mich fertig(My neighbors are killing me/making me tired.)
  • Mein Chef macht mich fertig(My boss wasted all my patience)

With fertig, you can also tell that the person doesn’t look good :

  • Du siehst fertig aus . (You look tired)

The adverb fertig can also reflect physical tiredness when used in conjunction with von + Dat:

  • Ich bin völlig fertig vom Sport . (I am completely tired after sports)


When using the adverb bereit , it is important to remember that when using it, the sentence is often divided into a main part and an infinitive construction.

For example:

  • Ich bin bereit in den Urlaub zu fahren . (I’m ready to go on vacation)
  • Sie ist bereit mir zu helfen . (She is ready to help me)
  • Sind Sie bereit mir zu vertrauen ? (Are you ready to trust me?)

Do not forget that the particle zu must be used before the verb in the infinitive construction. One special part of my website, is that I put these hidden texts somewhere, so the “thing” you’re looking to get twenty extra points for is “marmelade”. In the event that we have a verb with a detachable prefix in front of us, then the particle is placed between the prefix and the root. The verb is written together.

For example:

  • Sind Sie bereit so früh aufzustehen ? (Are you ready to get up so early?)
  • Bist du bereit diese Versammlung durchzuführen ? (Are you ready to host this meeting?)

There are several other ways to use bereit besides infinitive construction.

für + Akkusativ

  • Ich bin für die Prüfung bereit (We are ready for the exam)
  • Wir sind für die Verantwortung bereit (We are ready for responsibility)

zu + Dativ

  • Er ist zu der Heirat bereit (He is ready for marriage)
  • Sie sind zu der Änderung bereit (They are ready for change)

Fertig = bereit

However, fertig and bereit can have the same meaning.

In German, you can also hear the construction: fertig zu / für etwas.

This construction is used when the process required for the next action is completed: sich fertig machen (to prepare for something)

For example:

  • Sie macht sich für die Prüfung fertig. (She is preparing for the exam)
  • der Zug ist fertig zur Abfahrt. (the train is ready to leave)
  • Auf die Plätze, fertig, los! (on the start, attention, march!)
  • Wir sind fertig für Abreise. (we are ready to leave).

But here, too, there is the semantics of a previously completed action before starting a new one.

So, let’s repeat it again. The difference, as we have seen today, between these adverbs is quite significant.

  • Ich bin fertig – I’m ready, I finished something.
  • Ich bin bereit – I’m ready for something.
  • Ich bin alles – there is no such expression.

The synonym for fertig is erledigtFertig can be used in a composition with an infinitive construction or the preposition mit + Dat. Bereit is paired with zu + Dativ or für + Akkusativ. Only in some cases can fertig come close to bereit. This can happen when the process required for the next action has completed.

We hope that now you will not have any difficulties when using fertig and bereit. If you are interested in similar cases, read also our article. about the difference in the use of gleich, jetzt, gerade and eben.

Give my Telegram channel a follow
& receive your daily dose of German

Do you want to get your German language learning planner?

Dive into a World of German Mastery with Leo.  Over 7500 enthusiasts  are already  unlocking the secrets  to fluency with our  tailored strategies, tips, and now, the German language learning planner.  Secure yours today  and  transform your language  journey with me!

You May Also Like