Verbs With Prefixes

Verbs can use prefixes to extend or modify their meaning. Verb prefixes are grouped into separable and inseparable.

Verbs with Inseparable Prefixes

Inseparable prefixes are be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, miß-, ver-, and zer-. They are never detached from their verbs and never stressed. The stress is placed on the verb stem. No ge- is added to these verbs to form the past participle.

Infinitive: gefallen - to please

Past participle: gefallen

Verbs with Separable Prefixes

Separable prefixes are ab-, an-, auf-, aus, bei-, ein-, her-, hin-, mit-, nach-, weg-, vor-, wahr-, zu-, and zurück. Separable prefixes are always stressed. In the present and past simple of Indicative and some forms of Subjunctive I and Subjunctive II they are placed at the end of the sentence.

abfahren - to leave

Present: Der Zug fährt in sieben Minuten ab. - The train leaves in seven minutes.

Past Simple: Der Zug fuhr am Morgen ab. - The train left in the morning.

Present perfect: Der Zug ist schon abgefahren. - The train has already left.

anfangen - to start

Du fangst an. - You start.

aufmachen - to open

Bitte, mach die Tür auf. - Please open the door.

Nicht precedes separable prefixes.

Er kommt nicht an. - He isn't coming.


Past Participle of Verbs with Separable Prefixes

In past participles of verbs with separable prefixes -ge- is inserted between the prefix and the stem.

anfangen - hat angefangen - started

anrufen - hat angerufen - called

aufhören - hat aufgehört - stopped

zurückkommen - hat zurückgekommen - came back


Verbs with More Than One Prefix

Many German verbs have more than one prefix attached to the verb. The first prefix in the combination is the one that determines whether the verb should be conjugated as a verb with a separable prefix or as a verb with an inseparable prefix. For example, veranlassen (to cause) has two prefixes: ver- and an-. Because ver- is the first prefix in the combination, the verb is conjugated as a verb with inseparable prefix: veranlasst, veranlasste, hat veranlasst.

Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension