I want to translate the german word "Motiv" (with the meaning "Beweggrund") to English.
A sentence in english would be
People have various ... to do sport
What would be the most appropriate translation? I vary between "motive" and reason".
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The way you have constructed your sentence you would use the plural forms, motives or reasons.
Regarding which of the two words to use, they are almost synonymous here:
For example, here is how Oxford define the two words:
- A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.
- A reason for doing something.
In this case you are explaining what causes people to play sport, so reason works fine, and so does motive.
I say almost synonymous because there is a subtle difference, inanimate things can't have motives.
A motive force is motivating. Inanimate objects can't be motivated, only people can. If you are focusing on these sports persons lives in your writing motive may work better, because it has a connection to why people act the way they do.
Reason on the other hand is somewhat more sterile:
The reason your computer stopped working was because someone turned it off.
You can't use motive in a similar way with inanimate objects.
In summary both words work just fine, but if you want to add the idea of psychology - why people (especially), are acting they way they are, then motives would be a better fit I would say:
People have various motives to do sport.
You could actually also use the word motivated, with reasons if you wanted to touch on this idea of why people behave the way they do, and then want to go on to talk about the reasons: -
e.g.: People are motivated to do sport for various reasons
I would make one more change to your sentence though, and replace do, with play, as people 'play sport' and this reads more naturally than 'do sport':
So I would settle on either:
People have various motives to play sport
People are motivated to play sport for various reasons