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The Ultimate Guide to German Verbs & Prepositions: From Lost in Translation to Fluent in Expressions

As a German student @GermanMind, you have probably come across many verbs that require a preposition to be used correctly. These types of verbs are common in German and can sometimes be tricky to master. However, once you understand how they work and learn some of the most important ones, your German speaking and writing skills will greatly improve.

Learning German verbs with prepositions can be straightforward if the verb is always paired with a single preposition and case. In these instances, you only need to memorize the preposition and its meaning. However, more often than not, different prepositions convey varying meanings. Additionally, regarding the case following the preposition, there are three possibilities to keep in mind. Firstly, some verbs are always followed by prepositions that take the dative case, such as "aus," "bei," "mit," "nach," "von," and "zu." Secondly, certain verbs require prepositions that take the accusative case, such as "für," "gegen," and "um." Finally, some verbs have "true" two-way prepositions, which can take either the dative or accusative case, such as "an," "auf," and "in." However, only the prepositions "an," "auf," and "in" fall into this category.

Additionally, prepositions such as "über," "unter," "vor," and "zwischen" specify a place or position and have specific cases they require. For example, "über" takes the accusative case, "unter" takes the dative case, and "vor" and "zwischen" take the dative case.

German verbs with prepositions may have fixed meanings, or a verb can be paired with different prepositions to convey different meanings. Since the correct case to use after the preposition must be remembered, they can be challenging to learn. Adding to the complexity are reflexive verbs. However, there is no need to feel discouraged as our overview will provide you with the most essential German verb preposition combinations and the best techniques to remember them.

For English-speaking students, dative and accusative cases can be challenging concepts to understand in German. However, this blog aims to provide insights and better understanding of these cases. German uses three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, and each has a dedicated article.

It is essential to learn new nouns with their assigned articles to simplify case learning. The nominative case is used for sentence subjects, and the accusative case is used for direct objects. The accusative case answers the question "Whom?" and is denoted by changes in masculine gender articles. Meanwhile, the dative case is used for indirect objects that receive actions from the direct object in the accusative case or the subject. It provides information on the recipient and answers the question "To whom?"

A subset of German prepositions is used in verb preposition combinations, and they are limited to taking either the dative or accusative case, but not the genitive case. Some prepositions are classified as "two-way prepositions" since they can take both cases, but with distinct meanings and not interchangeable.

  • an (dat. + acc.) – to

auf (dat. + acc.) – on

  • aus (dat.) – from

  • bei (dat.) – at

  • durch (acc.) – by

  • für (acc.) – for

  • gegen (acc.) – against

  • in (dat. + acc.) – in

  • mit (dat.) – with

  • nach (dat.) – after

  • ohne (acc.) – without

  • über (acc.) – about

  • um (acc.) – to

  • unter (dat.) – under

  • von (dat.) – from

  • vor (dat.) – before

  • zu (dat.) – to

  • zwischen (dat.) – between

Here is an overview of some of the most important German verbs with prepositions, along with examples of how they are used in sentences:

To illustrate, the first example follows the simple structure of subject, verb, object. In this case, the verb "senden" (to send) takes two objects, with the preposition placed before the second object to indicate the recipient:

"Ich sende die E-Mail an meine Freundin." (I am sending the email to my girlfriend.)

The second example showcases the use of an auxiliary verb: the verb's infinitive form is placed at the end of the sentence, after the preposition and object:

"Wir müssen auf die Lautstärke achten." (We have to pay attention to the volume.)

Finally, for reflexive verbs, the pronoun precedes the preposition and the object, which typically takes the dative case:

"Er bedankt sich bei mir." (He is thanking me.)

Here is GMs list of TOP VERBS with prepositions

  1. warten auf - to wait for Ich warte auf meinen Freund. (I'm waiting for my friend.)

  2. sich freuen auf - to look forward to Ich freue mich auf das Wochenende. (I'm looking forward to the weekend.)

  3. sich beschäftigen mit - to deal with Ich beschäftige mich mit meinem Projekt. (I'm dealing with my project.)

  4. sich interessieren für - to be interested in Ich interessiere mich für Geschichte. (I'm interested in history.)

  5. sich kümmern um - to take care of Ich kümmere mich um meinen Hund. (I take care of my dog.)

  6. sich verlieben in - to fall in love with Ich habe mich in ihn verliebt. (I fell in love with him.)

  7. sich treffen mit - to meet with Ich treffe mich mit meinen Freunden. (I'm meeting with my friends.)

  8. denken an - to think of Ich denke an meine Familie. (I'm thinking of my family.)

  9. sich erinnern an - to remember Ich erinnere mich an meinen Geburtstag. (I remember my birthday.)

  10. sprechen über - to talk about Wir sprechen über unsere Pläne. (We're talking about our plans.)

  11. sich bewerben um - to apply for Ich bewerbe mich um einen Job. (I'm applying for a job.)

  12. sich beschweren über - to complain about Er beschwert sich über das Essen. (He's complaining about the food.)

  13. abhängen von - to depend on Es hängt von dir ab. (It depends on you.)

  14. träumen von - to dream of Ich träume von einem Urlaub in Italien. (I dream of a vacation in Italy.)

  15. sich entschuldigen für - to apologize for Ich entschuldige mich für mein Verhalten. (I'm apologizing for my behavior.)

Learning German verbs with prepositions can be challenging as the combination of verb and preposition can result in abstract meanings. Moreover, memorizing the prepositions and their respective cases is crucial.

Here are some tips to help you master German verbs with prepositions:

  • Learn the prepositions along with the verb and remember the case for each preposition.

  • Study example sentences with German preposition verbs and pay attention to the cases used.

  • Instead of studying verbs alphabetically, group them by prepositions and focus on learning the most important verbs with one preposition first, then move on to the next preposition.

  • Create mnemonic sentences to help you remember each German verb with a preposition. These sentences don't have to be logical, just memorable!


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