Grammar

Separable verbs (1)

In German it is possible to add a prefix to a simple verb, thus forming a verb with a new meaning.

prefix  + verb = new verb
fern + sehen = fernsehen
ein + kaufen = einkaufen

 

Many of these new verbs are separable. So, for a simple statement in the present, the original simple verb is conjugated and comes in second position in the sentence. The prefix comes at the end of the sentence.

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Lisa kauft ein.

Lisa kauft im Supermarkt ein.

Lisa kauft immer im Supermarkt ein.

 

You can often tell if a verb is separable by its prefix.

  • Verbs with certain prefixes, for example: ab-, an-, auf-, aus-, ein-, mit-, nach-, weg-, zu-  are always separable.
  • In contrast, verbs with certain prefixes, for example:  be-, ent-, er-, ver-, zer- are not separable.
  • Verbs with prefixes like durch-, über-, um-, unter- can be separable or inseparable.

 

You can also recognize separable verbs by their pronunciation. With separable verbs, the prefix is always stressed.

einkaufen: separable

verkaufen: not separable

 

Grammatical terms in German:

das trennbare Verb: Separable verbs have a prefix that can be separated in the sentence, and which then comes at the end.
Grammar