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German Verb Prefixes

Verbalprfixe - Vorsilben bei Zeitwrtern


Verb Prefixes
There are three kinds of verb prefixes in German:
separable (trennbar),
inseparable (untrennbar), and
dual prefixes (usually a preposition) that can be both.
Separable prefixes are stressed (betont) in their pronunciation;
inseparable prefixes are unstressed (unbetont). n this verb prefix chart,
!e have divided the prefixes into their three cate"ories.
#y addin" various prefixes to a base verb, German can produce ne!
meanin"s:
kommen $
abkommen (di"ress),
ankommen (arrive),
bekommen ("et),
entkommen (escape).
(%n"lish does the same thin", usin" Greek and &atin prefixes: form $
deform, inform, perform, etc.) 'no!in" the basic meanin" of a verb
prefix can be helpful in learnin" German vocabulary, but not all prefixes
have a specific meanin", nor does each prefix al!ays have the same
meanin". (or instance, kno!in" the meanin" of the prefix
ver) may or may not help you understand the meanin" of verbs like
verschlafen (to oversleep) or
versprechen (to promise).
The prefix meanin"s can be interestin" and helpful, but they are no
substitute for learnin" vocabulary.***
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Separable Prefixes
Trennbare +r,fixe
Prefix Meanin !xamples
ab) from
abblenden (screen, fade out, dim -li"hts.)
abdanken (abdicate, resi"n)
abkommem ("et a!ay)
abnehmen (pick up; decrease, reduce)
abschaffen (abolish, do a!ay !ith)
ab"iehen (deduct, !ithdra!, print -photos.)
an) at, to
anbauen (cultivate, "ro!, plant)
anbrinen (fasten, install, display)
anfanen (be"in, start)
anhnen (attach)
ankommen (arrive)
anschauen (look at, examine)
auf) on, out, up, un)
aufbauen (build up, put up, add on)
aufdrehen (turn on, unscre!, !ind up)
auffallen (stand out, be noticeable)
aufeben ("ive up; check -lu""a"e.)
aufkommen (arise, sprin" up; bear -costs.)
aufschlie#en (unlock; develop -land.)
aus) out, from
ausbilden (educate, train)
ausbreiten (extend, spread out)
ausfallen (fail, fall out, be canceled)
ausehen ("o out)
aussehen (appear, look -like.)
auswechseln (exchan"e, replace -parts.)
bei) alon", !ith
beibrinen (teach; inflict)
beikommen ("et hold of, deal !ith)
beischlafen (have sexual relations !ith)
beiset"en (bury, inter)
beitraen (contribute -to.)
beitreten (/oin)
ein)
in, into, in!ard,
do!n
einatmen (inhale)
einberufen (conscript, draft; convene, summon)
einbrechen (break in; break do!n0throu"h, cave
in)
eindrinen (force entry into, penetrate, besie"e)
einfallen (collapse; occur to, remind)
einehen (enter, sink in, be received)
fort) a!ay, forth, on!ard fortbilden (continue education)
fortbrinen (take a!ay -for repair., post)
fortpflan"en (propa"ate, reproduce; be
transmitted)
fortset"en (continue)
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forttreiben (drive a!ay)
mit) alon", !ith, co)
mitarbeiten (cooperate, collaborate)
mitbestimmen (co)determine, have a say in)
mitbrinen (brin" alon")
mitfahren ("o0travel !ith, "et a lift)
mitmachen (/oin in, "o alon" !ith)
mitteilen (inform, communicate)
nach) after, copy, re)
nachahmen (imitate, emulate, copy)
nachbessern (retouch)
nachdrucken (reprint)
nachf$llen (refill, top up0off)
nachehen (follo!, "o after; run slo! -clock.)
nachlassen (slacken, loosen)
vor)
before, for!ard,
pre), pro)
vorbereiten (prepare)
vorbeuen (prevent; bend for!ard)
vorbrinen (propose, brin" up; brin" for!ard,
produce)
vorf$hren (present, perform)
vorehen (proceed, "o on, "o first)
vorleen (present, submit)
we) a!ay, off
webleiben (stay a!ay)
wefahren (leave, drive off, sail a!ay)
wefallen (be discontinued, cease to apply, be
omitted)
wehaben (have "ot done, have "ot done)
wenehmen (take a!ay)
wetauchen (disappear)
"u)
shut0closed, to,
to!ards, upon
"ubrinen (brin"0take to)
"udecken (cover up, tuck in)
"uerkennen (besto!, confer -on.)
"ufahren (drive0ride to!ards)
"ufassen (make a "rab for)
"ulassen (authori1e, license)
"unehmen (increase, "ain, add !ei"ht)
"ur$ck) back, re)
"ur$ckblenden (flash back -to.)
"ur$ckehen ("o back, return)
"ur$ckschlaen (hit0strike back)
"ur$ckschrecken (shrink back0from, recoil, shy
a!ay)
"ur$ckset"en (reverse, mark do!n, put back)
"ur$ckweisen (refuse, repulse, turn back0a!ay)
"usammen) to"ether
"usammenbauen (assemble)
"usammenfassen (summari1e)
"usammenklappen (fold up, shut)
"usammenkommen (meet, come to"ether)
"usammenset"en (seat0put to"ether)
"usammensto#en (collide, clash)
%&'!( 2ll of the separable verbs form their past participle !ith e), as in "ur$ckeanen ("ur$ckehen).
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Separable Prefixes
Trennbare +r,fixe
Prefix Meanin !xamples
da) there
dableiben (stay behind)
dalassen (leave there)
dabei) there
dabeibleiben (stay0stick !ith it)
dabeisit"en (sit in on)
daran) on0to it
daraneben (sacrifice)
daranmachen (set about it, "et
do!n to it)
empor)
up,
up!ard,
over
emporarbeiten (!ork one3s !ay up)
emporblicken (raise one3s eyes up,
look up)
emporraen (to!er, rise above0over)
enteen)
a"ainst,
to!ards
enteenarbeiten (oppose, !ork
a"ainst)
enteenkommen (approach, come
to!ards)
entlan) alon"
entlanehen ("o0!alk alon")
entlanschrammen (scrape by)
fehl)
a!ry,
!ron"
fehlehen ("o astray, err)
fehlschlaen ("o !ron", come to
nothin")
fest)
firm,
fixed
festlaufen (run a"round)
festleen (establish, fix)
festsit"en (be stuck, clin")
een$ber)
across
from,
opposite,
con)
een$berlieen (face, be opposite)
een$berstellen (confront,
compare)
leich) e4ual
leichkommen (e4ual, match)
leichset"en (e4uate, treat as
e4uivalent)
her)
from,
here
herfahren (come0"et here)
herstellen (manufacture, produce;
establish)
herauf)
up from,
out of
heraufarbeiten (!ork one3s !ay up)
heraufbeschwren (evoke, "ive rise
to)
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heraus)
from, out
of
herauskrieen ("et out of, find out)
herausfordern (challen"e, provoke)
hin)
to,
to!ards,
there
hinarbeiten (!ork to!ards)
hinfahren ("o0drive there)
hinwe)
a!ay,
over
hinweehen (disre"ard, pass over)
hinwekommen (dismiss, "et over)
hin"u)
in
addition
hinbekommen ("et in addition)
hin"uf$en (add, enclose)
los)
a!ay,
start
losbellen (start barkin")
losfahren (set0drive off)
statt) ) )
stattfinden (take place, be held
-event.)
statteben ("rant)
"usammen)
to"ether,
to pieces
"usammenarbeiten (co)operate,
collaborate)
"usammeneben (mix -in"redients.)
"usammenhauen (smash to pieces)
"usammenheften (staple to"ether)
"usammenkrachen (crash -do!n.)
"usammenrei#en (pull oneself
to"ether)
"wischen) bet!een
"wischenblenden (blend in; insert
-film, music.)
"wischenlanden (stop over -flyin".)
%&'!( 2ll of the separable verbs form their past participle !ith e), as in "ur$ckeanen ("ur$ckehen).
)omments( Separable Prefix Verbs
German separable prefix verbs can be compared to %n"lish verbs like 5call
up,5 5clear out5 or 5fill in.5 6hile in %n"lish you can say either 57lear out
your dra!ers5 or 57lear your dra!ers out,5 in German the separable prefix
is almost al!ays at the end, as in the second %n"lish example. 2 German
example !ith anrufen:
*eute ruft er seine +reundin an, 8 Today he3s callin" his "irlfriend
(up).
This applies to most 5normal5 German sentences, but in some cases
(infinitive forms or in dependent clauses) the 5separable5 prefix does not
separate.
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-nseparable Prefixes
Untrennbare Prfixe
Prefix Meanin !xamples
be)
like English be-
makes verb take a
direct object (acc.
s, befinden (be located)
befolen (follo!)
befreunden (befriend)
beenen (meet)
bekommen ("et)
bemerken (notice, remark)
emp) sense, receive
empfanen (receive)
empfehlen (recommend)
empfinden (feel)
ent)
a!ay from
English de-!dis-
entarten (de"enerate)
entbehren (miss, do !ithout)
entdecken (discover)
entfallen (elude, slip)
entfernen (remove, take out)
entkalken (decalcify)
entkleiden (disrobe, undress)
entkommen (escape, "et a!ay)
entlassen (dischar"e, release)
entstehen (ori"inate, be formed0created)
entwerten (devalue, cancel)
er)
fatal, dead
erhnen (han", execute)
erschiessen (shoot dead)
ertrinken (dro!n)
like English re-
s, erinnern (remember)
erkennen (reco"ni1e)
erholen (recover, relax)
e) ) )
ebrauchen (use, make use of)
edenken (commemorate, intend)
efallen (like)
ehren (belon" to)
elanen (arrive at)
eloben (vo!)
enesen (recover, recuperate)
estalten (shape, form)
estehen (confess)
ewhren ("rant, "ive, offer)
miss) English mis-
missachten (disre"ard, disdain)
missbrauchen (abuse, misuse)
misstrauen (mistrust)
missverstehen (misunderstand)
ver) bad, a!ry
English mis-
verachten (despise)
verbilden (miseducate)
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verderben ("o bad, spoil)
s, verfahren ("o astray, "et lost)
verkommen ("o to ruin, become run do!n)
verschlafen (oversleep)
lose, a!ay0out
verdrnen (drive out)
verduften (lose its aroma)
verlassen (leave, abandon)
verlieren (lose)
English for-
verbieten (forbid)
vereben (for"ive)
veressen (for"et)
999
verbinden (banda"e, link, tie)
verr#ern (enlar"e)
verhaften (arrest)
versprechen (promise)
voll): full, complete
vollenden (complete, finish)
vollf$hren (execute, perform)
vollstrecken (enforce, execute)
:%&'!( Some verbal expressions !ith voll treat voll as an adverb rather than a prefix, and are spelled !ith the adverb
voll separated from the verb, even in the infinitive form. %xamples include: voll drhnen (dope0tank up), voll essen
("or"e oneself), voll machen (fill -up.).
"er)
collapse, shatter,
shred
"erbrechen (shatter)
"erreissen (rip up, shred)
"erstren (destroy)
%&'!( nseparable)prefix verbs do not add the normal past participle prefix e) in the perfect tenses. See the examples
belo!.
)omments( -nseparable Prefix Verbs
There are verbs in %n"lish that are constructed and used much like
German inseparable)prefix verbs: contend, extend, pretend, and intend
are all based on the verb 5tend.5 2 similar example in German is the verb
finden (find). #y addin" various inseparable prefixes, German alters the
meanin" of finden to create ne! meanin"s:
sich befinden (be located),
empfinden (feel), or
erfinden (invent).
2s you can see, many common German verbs are inseparable)prefix
verbs.
German verbs !ith inseparable prefixes do not add the normal past
participle prefix e) in the perfect tenses. %xamples: bekommen (to "et)
hat0hatte bekommen; erwarten (to expect, a!ait) hat0hatte erwartet;
verstehen (to understand) hat0hatte verstanden.
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.ual or Variable Prefixes
Separable0-nseparable Prefixes
(7an be either one or the other)
Prefix Meanin !xamples
durch) throu"h
durchdrinen (sep., penetrate)
durchfahren (sep., drive throu"h)
durchfressen (insep., eat throu"h -acid, rust, etc..)
hinter) behind
hinterlassen (insep., leave; be4ueath)
hinterlassen (sep., allo! s.o. to "o behind)
$ber)
over,
across
$berfahren (insep., run over)
$berfahren (sep., ferry across, cross over)
$berfallen (insep., attack, hold up -a bank.)
$berset"en (insep., translate)
$berset"en (sep., ferry across)
$berwinden (insep., overcome)
um) around
umarmen (insep., embrace, hu")
umbauen (sep., renovate, convert)
umbauen (insep., enclose, surround)
umbinden (sep., tie on)
umkehren (sep., turn back, turn inside out)
umschreiben (sep., re!rite, transcribe)
umschreiben (insep., paraphrase, outline; skate around -fi"..)
um"iehen (sep., move -to ne! residence., chan"e -clothes.)
unter) do!n
unterbrechen (insep., interrupt, disconnect)
unterbrinen (sep., accomodate)
unterdr$cken (insep., oppress, repress, suppress)
unterehen (sep., sink, perish)
unternehmen (insep., do, undertake)
unterwerfen (insep., con4uer, sub/u"ate)
unter"eichnen (insep., si"n -a document.)
wider) a"ainst, re)
widerklinen (sep., resound)
widerleen (insep., refute, disprove)
widerraten (insep., advise0counsel a"ainst)
widersprechen (insep., contradict)
widertnen (sep., echo)
wieder) a"ain
wiedereben (insep., restore, "ive back; recite, perform;
represent, reproduce, convey)
wiederkehren (sep., return, repeat, recur)
wiedersehen (sep., see0meet a"ain)
%ote( 2ll of the dual verb prefixes are stressed !hen separable, unstressed !hen inseparable: berset"en (ferry
across) vs. #bersetzen (translate).
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)omments( .ual-Prefix ( Variable-Prefix ) Verbs
n most cases, dual prefixes tend to be either mostly separable or
inseparable. (or example, the prefix durch) is usually separable. ts use
as an inseparable prefix is limited to only a fe! instances, such as the
verbs durchfressen, to eat throu"h (chemically) or durchblit"en, to
flash throu"h (one3s mind). ;n the other hand, the prefix $ber) is usually
inseparable, as in $berset"en, to translate. ;thers, such as hinter), are
used in very fe! verbs at all. So it is best to concentrate on learnin" the
fe! exceptions for the dual prefixes. Simply learn those exceptional dual)
prefix verbs as vocabulary.
2nother helpful "uideline concerns the meanin" of verbs !ith dual
prefixes. f the verb is used in its literal sense ($berset"en, carry across,
transfer), the prefix is separable. f the prefix is used in a fi"urative sense
($berset"en, to translate), the prefix is inseparable. The same verb
spellin" can have different meanin"s. (or instance, !hen separable,
umbauen means 5to renovate.5 6hen inseparable, umbauen means 5to
enclose, surround5 (to build around).
n spoken German, separable verb prefixes are stressed, !hile the
inseparable prefixes are unstressed. This also applies to the dual prefixes,
dependin" on !hether they are separable or inseparable.
The form of the past participle for dual)prefix verbs also depends on
!hether the prefix is separable or inseparable, as outlined on the previous
pa"es.
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S/MP0! S!%'!%)!S
#elo! are sample sentences !ith separable (trennbar) and inseparable
(untrennbar) prefixes.
n the examples belo!, the separable or inseparable prefix is sho!n in
red, as in anfanen (to be"in, sep.) or versprechen (to promise,
insep.). %ach verb is sho!n !ith various pronouns0persons and in various
tenses.

Separable Prefix Verbs
Verb
.eutsch
English
+ r e s e n t T e n s e
anfanen
6ann fanen !ir an9
$hen do %e begin&
anfanen
6ann fnt sie an9
$hen does she begin&
einatmen
#itte atmen Sie tief ein.
Please take a deep breath.
+ r e s . + e r f e c t T e n s e
%&'!( Separable)prefix verbs use the normal past participle prefix e) in the perfect tenses. See the examples
belo!.
anfanen
6ann haben sie anefanen9
$hen did the' begin&
+ a s t + e r f e c t T e n s e
anfanen
6ann hatten Sie anefanen9
$hen had 'ou begun&
+ a s t T e n s e
anfanen
6ann finen !ir an9
$hen did %e begin&
anfanen
6ann fin sie an9
$hen did she begin&
6 i t h < o d a l s
anfanen
'=nnen !ir heute anfanen9
(an %e begin toda'&
10
anfanen
ch muss /et1t anfanen.
) have to begin no%.
-nseparable Prefix Verbs
Verb
.eutsch
English
+ r e s e n t T e n s e
versprechen
ch verspreche nichts.
)*m not promising an'thing.
versprechen
6as versprichst du mir9
$hat are 'ou promising me&
+ r e s . + e r f e c t T e n s e
%&'!( nseparable)prefix verbs do not use the normal past participle prefix e) in the perfect tenses. See the
examples belo!.
versprechen
1as hast du mir versprochen2
$hat did 'ou promise me&
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