Help! Separated verbs?

I’m learning German, and I’m curious about these separated words that actually go together! Like ‘aufpassen’ (to pay attention), which when used in a sentence is used as ‘pass auf ‘ (pay attention). Why is that? How can I identify them? Thanks! :grinning: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


They’re really weird :smile:!

As learner I used to compare them to phrasal verbs in English, but instead of having the two parts (main verb and particle/preposition) one after the other, the Präfix goes to the end of the sentence.

And about the meaning, the structure is also similar: I mean, there are many of them that have the same “main verb” but change the meaning when they change the Präfix/preposition/particle.

In English you have for e.g. get up and get over with, both with “get”. And in German you have “zumachen” and aufmachen", both with “machen”.



Like Yan said, they’re a bit like English phrasal verbs, only in German the particle (the prefix, which is usually a preposition) goes at the end of the sentence.

:bulb: You can have the same “main verb” with different prefixes, and the prefixes themselves usually have some broad meaning: for example, if you have a verb with the prefix “vor-” it will probably have something to do with the idea of doing something before (vorbereiten=prepare, vorhaben=plan).

:+1:t4: Identifying them while reading is not very hard: if there is a conjugated verb a dangling preposition at the end, it is most likely a separable verb and the preposition is the prefix.

:exclamation: If you want to study them you have to be careful because not all verbs with prefixes are separable. For example, the following prefixes are never separated: be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, & zer-.
And be careful with some verbs that look the same but have different meanings if they are separable or not:

  • Ich fahre den Baum um. → I knock the tree down with my car.
  • Ich umfahre den Baum. → I drive around the tree.

I hope this has made it a bit clearer! :nerd_face: