Learn German Easily

Created by Lucas Kern

Difference between schlafen, einschlafen, ausschlafen, durchschlafen, verschlafen and weiterschlafen

Do you know what separable verbs are?

These are verbs with a prefix that work in a special way. I describe these changes in more detail in my article on separable verbs and German prefixes.

But today, I want to focus on the changes in meaning.

Difference schlafen einschlafen ausschlafen

First of all, let’s start with the base verb:

What does the word ‘schlafen’ mean?

The German verb schlafen is an irregular verb in the present form; also known as a strong verb. In its base form, its meaning in English is very straightforward: it can be translated to ‘sleep’.

Ich schlafe gewöhnlich um elf Uhr.
I usually sleep at eleven.

What does ‘einschlafen’ mean in German?

With einschlafen, the meaning gets a little different.

This one can be translated as ‘falling asleep.’

Like I said at the beginning, it is a separable verb, which means there will be some things to consider when conjugating, namely, that the prefix moves to the end of the sentence or clause.

Kurz darauf schläft sie auf dem Bett ein.
Shortly afterwards she falls asleep on the bed.

What does ‘ausschlafen’ mean in German?

Well, it’s another separable verb. And it means ‘sleeping for as long as you want’, or ‘until you’ve rested well’. In casual conversation, we also use it when we have slept late.

In English, it’d be similar to sleeping off or sleeping in.

Tom schläft samstags und sonntags gewöhnlich aus.
Tom usually sleeps off on Saturdays and Sundays.

What does ‘durchschlafen’ mean in German?

Durchschlafen is another separable verb. It means something like to ‘sleep through’ or ‘sleep all night’. While the previous word had to do with when you wake up, this one is related to sleeping without any interruptions.

Seit dem ich 50 Jahre alt geworden bin, schlafe ich fast keine Nacht mehr durch.
Since I turned 50, I hardly ever sleep through the night.

What does ‘weiterschlafen’ mean in German?

You probably guessed it already, but this word also belongs to the separable verbs. If you don’t manage to do the previous verb, you might need to use this one! 

Weiterschlafen means something like ‘to go back to sleep’ or to ‘sleep on’.

Blöder Wecker, hör auf zu klingeln. Ich schlafe jetzt weiter
= Stupid alarm clock, stop ringing. I’m going back to sleep now. 

What does ‘verschlafen’ mean in German?

Be careful with this word.

Unlike the others, this isn’t a separable verb.

This means that, when you conjugate it, the prefix must remain attached to the verb,

The word verschlafen means ‘to oversleep’.

It doesn’t mean sleeping until late, exactly, or sleep as much as you need, but specifically, sleep more than you should.

Ich verschlafe nie, egal zu welcher Zeit ich ins Bett gehe.
I never oversleep, no matter what time I go to bed.

Ich habe verschlafen. Ich hätte um 10 Uhr aufstehen müssen, aber ich bin erst um 11 Uhr aufgestanden.
I have overslept. I should have gotten up at 10am, but I didn’t get up until 11am.

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