“Einschlagen” means specifically that the person broke into the window (probably intentionally) by hitting it or knocking something through it? Like if you accidentally broke a window while doing something else you would use “zerbrochen”, right? And you could also use “einschlagen” in less destructive ways right, like stamping something or hammering something in in the course of making or fixing something? I want to make sure I understand these words.
Einschlagen implies that you do it with the intention of entering. Its almost the same with doors (eintreten) or generally einbrechen (unless you break in the ice, though some people might like doing that intentionally as well :D)
I don’t like the word ‘zerbrechen’ with glass (zerbrechen is used for things that remain dull when broken), usually you’d use zerspringen, zersplittern etc for glass but those don’t work for windows, not in active constructions. Zersplittern is either used for small objects or for a large surface area, not for a construction (such as a window, with glass, frame and handle)
If you talk about the windows being broken by a ball or something like that, you’d most of the time use (1) ‘kaputt gemacht’ / (2) ‘beschädigt’. Or you’d say it with a passive construction (3) ‘Weil die Nachbarskinder den Ball auf das Fenster schossen, ist das Fenster zersprungen’ (that would be common). ‘Ich habe das Fenster zersprungen’ is a big no, ‘Ich habe das Fenster zersplittert’ doesn’t work either.
In conclusion, choose from either 1, 2 or 3.
Einschlagen is also used for very large, violent objects (like meteorites, bombs) or when talking about nails. And figuratively as in ‘Das Produkt ist in den Markt eingeschlagen wie eine Bombe’.
Thanks much, this is a fantastic explanation and I think this will help me fit it all together as I hear people use these different words.
I just encountered a new sentence with yet another way of expressing this, here on Clozemaster:
Ein Fenster ging zu Bruch.