@Lisa-Lingvist said in Confusing Questions:
I agree that there is a fine line between Auftrag and Vertrag. I won't go into the legal details that you'll find if you google 'Auftrag Vertrag Unterschied', but Vertrag is the piece of paper, often many pages long, that you sign. In English usually contract or agreement. And Auftrag can be much broader, like Henning mentioned.
You're basically correct :) I'd like to add, though, that "Vertrag" can go beyond the physical stack of papers and refer to the agreement in a more abstract way. For example, one could say, "Unsere Agentur hat den Vertrag gewonnen", "Our agency has won the contract".
From my experience, there's a rule of thumb: If you're talking about physical goods and/or a task that's reasonably well delimitable, you'd probably use "Auftrag". If you're talking about a service, especially one that is performed continuously, you might use "Vertrag" to refer to the agreement in an abstract way.
To give an example: If the task is to build and deliver a new conference table, you'd probably use "Auftrag". The task has intrinsic limits, its beginning and end points are definied "out of itself" - at some point, the table is finished and set up.
If the task is to supply end user support for a company's customers, you might use "Vertrag". This task probably has no intrinsic limits, no beginning and end point "out of itself". There is no "natural end" to answering customer questions ;)
In the latter case, you can of course use "Auftrag", too, but you might run into cases like this where "Vertrag" goes beyond the physical manifestation of the agreement.