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German Prefixes | Separable Verbs

Separable Verbs - German prefix

What are Separable Verbs (German Prefix + Verb)

Sometimes you can separate the German prefix from a verb. These verbs are called trennbare Verben (separable verbs).

There are many verbs of this kind and they always confuse students. On this page I will explain this subject as easy as possible.

However, if you don’t like grammar or German grammar confuses you, I suggest trying the TPRS method.

Through my method, you will learn the German language easily and you will develop a natural feeling it. You don’t need to learn grammar rules BY HEART, you will quickly feel what’s right and what’s wrong.

Separable Verbs | German Prefix + Verb Example

The German verbs with prefixes are very confusing for many students. As always, I try to explain this topic as easily as possible.

Let me explain it using the verb stehen (to stand).

Example sentence:

Wir stehen vor dem Spiegel.
(We’re standing in front of the mirror.)

If you add a prefix, the meaning of the verb changes!

For example:
stehen (to stand)
aufstehen (to get up, to stand up)
anstehen (to stand in line, to queue)
durchstehen (to stand something (difficult situation etc.))

If you conjugate the separable verbs (ich stehe auf, du stehst auf, er steht auf etc.), then the German prefixes are separated and go to the end of the main clause.

Ich stehe früh auf.
(I get up early)

Du stehst nicht gerne früh auf.
(You don’t like getting up early)

Er steht jeden Tag um 5 Uhr auf.
(He gets up at 5 o’clock every day)

Separable Verbs | German Prefix + Verb + Futur 1

As you already know, we form the future tense with the auxiliary verb werden.

Present tense: Ich stehe früh auf.
=> Future tense: Ich werde früh aufstehen.

Did you notice what changed?

1) Only the auxiliary verb „werden“ is conjugated.
2) The separable prefixe is added again.
3) The full verb is back in the basic form.
4) The full verb gets at the end of the main clause.

German prefix - Separable Verbs

German Prefixes and the conjunction ‘dass’

It is also important that you know how the separable verbs behave when you are using the conjunction dass (that).

For example:

Du stehst nicht gerne früh auf.
Ich weiß, dass du nicht gerne früh aufstehst.
(I know that you don’t like getting up early)


1) The separable prefix is added again.
2) The verb remains conjugated.
3) The verb goes at the end of the subordinate clause.

Not-separable verbs

In addition to the separable verbs, there are also non-separable verbs. That means, there are prefixes that are attached to a verb, but never get separated from the verb – for example the German verb „bestehen“.

stehen = to stand
bestehen = to pass (exam)

Du bestehst dein Examen ganz sicher.
Nicht: Du stehst dein Examen ganz sicher be.

The German prefix be- always stays attached to the verb and never gets separated from the verb.

Du wirst dein Examen ganz sicher bestehen.
(You’ll pass your exam for sure)

Ich bin mir sicher, dass du dein Examen bestehst.

Distinction between separable and non-separable verbs

In the case of separable verbs, the prefix is emphasized (aufstehen). The stress is on the prefix.

In the case of non-separable verbs, the word stem is usually emphasized (bestehen). The stress is on the word stem).

The following prefixes belong to the separable verbs:

auf / an / ab / aus / bei / ein / los / mit / nach / hin / her / vor / weg / zurück / zu

For example: aufstehen, anfangen, abgehen, etc

These prefixes are belong to the non-separable verbs:

be / er / emp(f) / ge / ent / miss / ver / zer

For example: bestehen, erfinden, empfangen etc.

And these prefixes can belong to separable or non-separable verbs:

um / über / unter / durch / hinter

umschauen (separable)
Er schaut sich um.

umarmen (non-separable).
Er umarmt seine Frau.


Do you want to read this article in German?

You can do it on my other website: Leicht-Deutsch-Lernen: Trennbare Verben – Zusammengesetzte Verben.

And here you can learn the German verb MACHEN and its prefixes.

Difference between „dann“ and „denn“

The next lesson explains another thing that is confusing for many students: the difference between dann vs denn.

There will be many examples to help you understand the difference.

Do you want to master German? Click the link and start with Lesson 1

Lesson 1
🔗 German Articles (Secret Decoded)

Wanna skip?
Go to:

Lesson 10
Numbers in German up to 999.999

Lesson 20
German Umlauts Ä Ö Ü

For more depth, try these selected intermediate lessons:

German Vocabulary 300+ Words Idioms and Expressions
Spice Up With Adjectives
Tense Mastery: Past to Future!
Crack Prefixes & Verbs
Clarify 'das' vs 'dass'

Blog Articles e.g.

German Work Permit: What You Need to Know and Do in Advance!

Palaces and Castles in Germany from Neuschwanstein (Cinderella’s) to Frankenstein’s Castle

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