• Sarah

German grammar hint of the day! Open your books, please!


Did you know that German verbs can have separable prefixes? Well, they do! And these prefixes change the meaning of the original verb. They even create a new word.




Separable prefixes are separated from their verb; the verbs are conjugated as normal: einkaufen, ich kaufe ein. In a main clause, the prefix is moved to the end of the sentence.

Separable prefixes: ab-, an-, auf-, aus-, bei-, ein-, her-, hin-, los-, mit-, nach-, vor-, weg-, zu-, zurück-

Ich kaufe im Supermarkt ein.


Inseparable prefixes are not separated from their verb; the verbs are conjugated as normal: verkaufen, ich verkaufe. The prefix determines whether a verb is separable or not.

Inseparable prefixes: be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, zer-

These prefixes remain a permanent part of the verb, even in the finite form.

Ich verkaufe mein Auto.


Separable or inseparable prefixes: durch-, hinter-, über-, um-, unter-

Some verbs with these prefixes are always separable.

umschauen – er schaut sich um

Some other verbs with these prefixes are never separable.

umarmen – sie umarmt ihn

Some verbs with these prefixes can be either separable or inseparable. In this case, the separable verb and the inseparable verb have two different meanings.

umfahren – Er fährt das Schild um. – Er umfährt das Schild.


Puh! I know... and yes, you have to listen to the end of the sentence to really understand it. Some people say this is especially tricky for some men... what do you think?


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