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German Verb Prefixes

Part 2: Separable Verb Prefixes

Verbalpräfixe - Vorsilben bei Zeitwörtern

This verb prefix guide, with a prefix chart, is part of Lesson 19 of our of free German for Beginners course. To learn more about German verbs, also see our German Verbs section and the Verb-Lexikon.

Also see: Verb Prefixes and Rechtschreibreform


Separable Prefixes 1
Below we have listed the most common separable prefixes in German. For more of the separable prefixes, including less common ones (fehl-, statt-, etc.), see Separable Prefixes 2.

Verb Prefixes: Inseparable > Separable 1 > Separable 2 > Dual >
  Rechtschreibreform > Sample Sentences with verb prefixes

Separable Prefixes 1
Trennbare Präfixe 1

Prefix Meaning Examples
ab- from abblenden (screen, fade out, dim [lights])
abdanken (abdicate, resign)
abkommem (get away)
abnehmen (pick up; decrease, reduce)
abschaffen (abolish, do away with)
abziehen (deduct, withdraw, print [photos])
an- at, to anbauen (cultivate, grow, plant)
anbringen (fasten, install, display)
anfangen (begin, start)
anhängen (attach)
ankommen (arrive)
anschauen (look at, examine)
auf- on, out, up, un- aufbauen (build up, put up, add on)
aufdrehen (turn on, unscrew, wind up)
auffallen (stand out, be noticeable)
aufgeben (give up; check [luggage])
aufkommen (arise, spring up; bear [costs])
aufschließen (unlock; develop [land])
aus- out, from ausbilden (educate, train)
ausbreiten (extend, spread out)
ausfallen (fail, fall out, be canceled)
ausgehen (go out)
ausmachen (10 meanings!)
aussehen (appear, look [like])
auswechseln (exchange, replace [parts])
  See The 10 Meanings of the German Verb 'ausmachen'.
bei- along, with beibringen (teach; inflict)
beikommen (get hold of, deal with)
beischlafen (have sexual relations with)
beisetzen (bury, inter)
beitragen (contribute [to])
beitreten (join)
durch-* through durchhalten (withstand, endure; hold out)
durchfahren (drive through)
*The prefix durch- is usually separable, but it can also be inseparable. See Dual Prefixes.
ein- in, into, inward, down einatmen (inhale)
einberufen (conscript, draft; convene, summon)
einbrechen (break in; break down/through, cave in)
eindringen (force entry into, penetrate, besiege)
einfallen (collapse; occur to, remind)
eingehen (enter, sink in, be received)
fort- away, forth, onward fortbilden (continue education)
fortbringen (take away [for repair], post)
fortpflanzen (propagate, reproduce; be transmitted)
fortsetzen (continue)
forttreiben (drive away)
mit- along, with, co- mitarbeiten (cooperate, collaborate)
mitbestimmen (co-determine, have a say in)
mitbringen (bring along)
mitfahren (go/travel with, get a lift)
mitmachen (join in, go along with)
mitteilen (inform, communicate)
nach- after, copy, re- nachahmen (imitate, emulate, copy)
nachbessern (retouch)
nachdrucken (reprint)
nachfüllen (refill, top up/off)
nachgehen (follow, go after; run slow [clock])
nachlassen (slacken, loosen)
vor- before, forward, pre-, pro- vorbereiten (prepare)
vorbeugen (prevent; bend forward)
vorbringen (propose, bring up; bring forward, produce)
vorführen (present, perform)
vorgehen (proceed, go on, go first)
vorlegen (present, submit)
weg- away, off wegbleiben (stay away)
wegfahren (leave, drive off, sail away)
wegfallen (be discontinued, cease to apply, be omitted)
weghaben (have got done, have got done)
wegnehmen (take away)
wegtauchen (disappear)
zu- shut/closed, to, towards, upon zubringen (bring/take to)
zudecken (cover up, tuck in)
zuerkennen (bestow, confer [on])
zufahren (drive/ride towards)
zufassen (make a grab for)
zulassen (authorize, license)
zunehmen (increase, gain, add weight)
zurück- back, re- zurückblenden (flash back [to])
zurückgehen (go back, return)
zurückschlagen (hit/strike back)
zurückschrecken (shrink back/from, recoil, shy away)
zurücksetzen (reverse, mark down, put back)
zurückweisen (refuse, repulse, turn back/away)
zusammen- together zusammenbauen (assemble)
zusammenfassen (summarize)
zusammenklappen (fold up, shut)
zusammenkommen (meet, come together)
zusammensetzen (seat/put together)
zusammenstoßen (collide, clash)
NOTE: All of the separable verbs form their past participle with ge-, as in zurückgegangen (zurückgehen).
NEXT > Separable Prefixes 2 | Dual Prefixes (Separable/Inseparable)

Also see: Verb Prefixes and Rechtschreibreform

Comments: Separable Prefix Verbs
German separable prefix verbs can be compared to English verbs like "call up," "clear out" or "fill in." While in English you can say either "Clear out your drawers" or "Clear your drawers out," in German the separable prefix is almost always at the end, as in the second English example. A German example with anrufen: Heute ruft er seine Freundin an. = Today he's calling his girlfriend (up). This applies to most "normal" German sentences, but in some cases (infinitive forms or in dependent clauses) the "separable" prefix does not separate. See Lesson 19 and the Sample Sentences page for more about this.

In spoken German, separable verb prefixes are stressed.

All of the separable-prefix verbs form their past participle with ge-. Examples: Sie hat gestern angerufen, She called/telephoned yesterday. Er war schon zurückgegangen, He had already gone back. - For more about German verb tenses, see our German Verbs section.

NEXT > More Separable Prefixes | Dual Prefixes (Separable/Inseparable)
MORE > Sample Sentences with verb prefixes
BACK > Inseparable Prefixes


Related Pages

Lesson 19
An introduction to separable-prefix verbs and their conjugation. Includes a brief look at inseparable prefixes as well. Part of our online German for Beginners course.

Verb Prefixes and Rechtschreibreform
How do the new German spelling rules affect verb prefixes?

The 10 Meanings of the German Verb 'ausmachen'
There are at least ten different basic meanings for the German verb ausmachen. This lesson examines each meaning and provides examples in German and English.

Verb-Lexikon
An alphabetical list of common German verbs, many with links to their conjugations.

German Verbs
An index of all of our German verb pages.

English-German Glossaries
All of the annotated glossaries on this site - from aerospace to travel.

German Grammar
All of the grammar resources on this site.


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