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Handout: Separable and Inseparable Prefixes

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Handout: Separable and Inseparable Prefixes
As you know, German verbs can have separable prefixes. These prefixes change the meaning of the original verb, and make a new word. In the present tense, separable prefixes are separated from the verb and placed at the end of the sentence bracket. The separation rule also applies in the imperative. When used in the infinitive, however (e.g. with a modal auxiliary), separable prefix verbs are not divided. As you will shortly learn, the participle forms in the past tense are also combined.




Hans steht jeden Tag um 9.00 Uhr auf.

Hans gets up every day at 9:00.

Hans, steh jetzt auf!

Hans, get up now!

Hans muss jeden Tag um 9.00 Uhr aufstehen.

Hans has to get up every day at 9:00.


Common separable prefixes. Remember that this list is only a rough guide to the meanings of prefixes, since their use is highly idiomatic.

ab = off, down

abholen

= to pick up

abnehmen

= to take off

an = at, on

anfangen

= to start, begin

anrufen

= to call, telephone

anziehen

= to put on, dress

auf = up

aufhören

= to stop

aufräumen

= to clean up

aufstehen

= to get up, stand up

aus = out

ausgehen

= to go out

aussehen

= to look, appear

ein = in, into

einkaufen

= to shop

einschlafen

= to fall asleep

fern = far

fernsehen

= to watch TV

fort = away

fortgehen

= to leave, go away

her = ‘hither’, to here

herholen

= to fetch

herkommen

= to come from

hin = ‘thither’, to there

hinstellen

= to place, put

mit = with, along

mitbringen

= to bring along

mitkommen

= to come along

mitnehmen

= to take along

nach = after

nachdenken

= to think, reflect

nachfragen

= to inquire, ask after

um = around, at

umsehen

= to look around

vor = before

vorhaben

= to have planned

vorstellen

= to introduce

vorbei = by, past

vorbeikommen

= to come by

weg = away

weggehen

= to go away, leave

wegnehmen

= to take away

zu = to, closed

zuhören

= to listen

zumachen

= to close

zurück = back

zurückgeben

= to give back

zurückkommen



= to come back

zusammen = together

zusammenkommen

= to come together



Some German verbs have recognizable prefixes that are INSEPARABLE, e.g. they remain with the verb at all times.

Das Feuer zerstört unser Haus.

The fire is destroying our house.

Zerstör das Haus!

Destroy the house!

Das Feuer kann unser Haus zerstören.

The fire can destroy our house.


The meanings of these prefixes are much harder to explain, since they often perform a grammatical function but do not have a direct English cognate. Nonetheless, here’s a short list of common INSEPARABLE prefixes and example verbs.

be = makes a verb transitive

beantworten

= to answer (a question)

          or turns action towards object

besuchen

= to visit

bekommen

= to receive, get

ent, emp = beginning of action

entgehen

= to escape

          or separation

empfangen

= to receive

er = stress on outcome

erleben

= to experience

          or accomplishment

erkennen

= to recognize

ge = result, completeness or

gewinnen

= to win or gain

          successful action

gebrauchen

= to use up, consume

miss = same as English ‘mis-’

missverstehen

= to misunderstand

missbrauchen

= to abuse

ver = action of the verb has

verschlafen

= to oversleep

          miscarried (BUT NOT ALWAYS!)

verlaufen

= to go astray

zer = asunder, apart

zerbrechen

= to break into pieces

zerstören

= to destroy



Let’s practice just a little. Form complete German sentences out of the elements.

ich / vorbeikommen / heute / um 8 Uhr

wann / du / müssen / aufstehen ?

wir / gewinnen / das Fußballspiel .

Hans, / aufräumen / dein Zimmer!

Hans, / besuchen / mich !

fernsehen / du / jetzt ?

erkennen / du / ihn ?

zurückgeben / mir / mein Buch !






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