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Prefixes

The Genuine, reliable, and cheap Educational Consultancy in Kathmandu that uses advanced learning techniques (super memory, super learning techniques, super learning music, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and visualization) on German language, IELTS and TOEFL preparation class. Genuine Service for all divine students..German uses prefixes far more than English does. Also, a single verb derives a variety of new meanings from the prefixes.

schreiben                         write
anschreiben                     write up
beschreiben                     describe
zuschreiben                     attribute to

German has two categories of prefixes: inseparable prefixes and separable prefixes. But a few prefixes can be used in either category.

Inseparable prefixes

Prefixes are always attached to the front end of a verb, and inseparable prefixes are never removed from this position, no matter the tense or form of the verb. The inseparable prefixes are be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, wieder-, and zer-. The stress in a verb with an inseparable prefix is always on the stem of the verb (bestéllen). Attached to verbs, the inseparable prefixes look like this:

bekommen                              receive
besuchen                                  visit
empfehlen                               recommend
empfinden                               feel
entlaufen                                 run away
entschließen                            decide
erschlagen                               kill
erwarten                                  expect
gefallen                                    please
gehören                                    belong to
missachten                               ignore
misslingen                               be unsuccessful
vergessen                                 forget
verstehen                                 understand
zerreißen                                 tear to pieces
zerschmettern                         smash

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Notice the position of the inseparable prefix on the following verbs in all the tenses.

                                 besuchen (visit)                             entlaufen (run away)
present                   
er besucht                                      wir entlaufen
past
                        er besuchte                                     wir entliefen
present perfect
       er hat besucht                                wir sind entlaufen
past perfect
           er hatte besucht                              wir waren entlaufen
future
                     er wird besuchen                          wir werden entlaufen
future perfect        
er wird besucht haben                 wir werden entlaufen sein

In the perfect tenses, a ge- prefix is not required for past participles with inseparable prefixes. The inseparable prefix replaces ge-. Also, the function of the inseparable prefix is not affected whether the verb is regular or irregular or whether it requires haben or sein as its auxiliary.

Separable prefixes

There are many separable prefixes. These are adverbs and prepositions used to alter the meaning of a verb. Some of the commonly used separable prefixes are an, auf, aus, bei, ein, fort, mit, nach, vor, weg, and zu. But there are many others. The stress in a verb with a separable prefix is always on the separable prefix (vórstellen). Attached to verbs, separable prefixes look like this:

ankommen              arrive
aufhören                 cease
aussprechen            pronounce
beibringen              teach
fortfahren               continue
mitgehen                go along
nachahmen            imitate
vorstellen               introduce
weglaufen              run away
zunehmen              increase

When a verb with a separable prefix is conjugated, the separable prefix appears at the end of the sentence or clause in the present and past tenses and is separated from the past participle by the prefix ge- in the perfect tenses. In the future tense, the prefix remains on the infinitive. Notice the position of the separable prefix with the following example verbs in all the tenses.

                            aufhören (cease)                           mitgehen (go along)
present
               er hört auf                                     wir gehen mit
past
                    er hörte auf                                   wir gingen mit
present perfect
   er hat aufgehört                           wir sind mitgegangen
past perfect
        er hatte aufgehört                         wir waren mitgegangen
future                
er wird aufhören                           wir werden mitgehen
future perfect
    er wird aufgehört haben              wir werden mitgegangen sein

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Prefixes that can be separable and inseparable

A few prefixes are used in either category—separable and inseparable. If the stress is on the prefix itself, the prefix is separable. When the stress is on the stem of the verb, it is a signal that the prefix is being used as an inseparable prefix. Let’s look at some examples. Notice where the stress of the verb lies:

separable                                            inseparable
dúrchfallen            to fail                  durchdríngen                   to penetrate
hinter-                     N/A                   hintergéhen                      to deceive
sich übersehen       to get fed up        übertréiben                      to exaggerate
úmkommen            to die                 umármen                         to embrace
únterkommen        to find housing   unterbréchen                   to interrupt
vólltanken              to fill up the gas tank   vollzíehen              to carry out
wíderrufen             to retract            widerspíegeln                  to reflect
wíedergeben          to give back        wiederhólen                    to repeat

Compare the differences in the conjugations with the same prefix, used in one example as a separable prefix and in the second example as an inseparable prefix. The subject of each sentence will be er.

                             wíderrufen (retract)                           widerspíegeln (reflect)
present
                ruft wider                                           widerspiegelt
past                   
rief wider                                            widerspiegelte
present perfect  
hat widergerufen                               hat widerspiegelt

past perfect        hatte widergerufen                          hatte widerspiegelt
future                
wird widerrufen                              wird widerspiegeln
future perfect
     wird widergerufen haben              wird widerspiegelt haben

Prefixes on nouns

If a verb has a noun form, its prefix also accompanies the noun. If the prefix is separable, the stress is on the prefix of the noun. If the prefix is inseparable, the stress is on the stem of the noun. Prefixes on nouns always remain in one position. For example:

beháupten                die Beháuptung                 claim
áussprechen            die Áussprache                  pronunciation

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