German's Separable-Prefix Verbs

Words in English, liked "jumped out" are analgous with German's separable prefix verbs. Getty Images / Hans Berggren

There are two charts below. The first lists German's most frequently used prefixes, the second the including less common ones (fehl-, statt-, etc.) Click here for an overview of inseparable 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 anrufenHeute 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. 

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.

Separable PrefixesTrennbare Präfixe

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])
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)
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)

*The prefix durch- is usually separable, but it can also be inseparable.


Less Common, but Still Useful, Separable Verbs

Above, are listed the most common separable prefixes in German. For many other, less frequently used separable prefixes, see the chart below. While some of the separable prefixes below, such as fehl- or statt-, are used in only two or three German verbs, they often turn out to be important, useful verbs that one should know.

Less Common Separable PrefixesTrennbare Präfixe 2​

Prefix Meaning Examples
da- there dableiben (stay behind)
dalassen (leave there)
dabei- there dabeibleiben (stay/stick with it)
dabeisitzen (sit in on)
daran- on/to it darangeben (sacrifice)
daranmachen (set about it, get down to it)
empor- up, upward, over emporarbeiten (work one's way up)
emporblicken (raise one's eyes up, look up)
emporragen (tower, rise above/over)
entgegen- against, towards entgegenarbeiten (oppose, work against)
entgegenkommen (approach, come towards)
entlang- along entlanggehen (go/walk along)
entlangschrammen (scrape by)
fehl- awry, wrong fehlgehen (go astray, err)
fehlschlagen (go wrong, come to nothing)
fest- firm, fixed festlaufen (run aground)
festlegen (establish, fix)
festsitzen (be stuck, cling)
gegenüber- across from, opposite, con- gegenüberliegen (face, be opposite)
gegenüberstellen (confront, compare)
gleich- equal gleichkommen (equal, match)
gleichsetzen (equate, treat as equivalent)
her- from, here herfahren (come/get here)
herstellen (manufacture, produce; establish)
herauf- up from, out of heraufarbeiten (work one's way up)
heraufbeschwören (evoke, give rise to)
heraus- from, out of herauskriegen (get out of, find out)
herausfordern (challenge, provoke)
hin- to, towards, there hinarbeiten (work towards)
hinfahren (go/drive there)
hinweg- away, over hinweggehen (disregard, pass over)
hinwegkommen (dismiss, get over)
hinzu- in addition hinbekommen (get in addition)
hinzufügen (add, enclose)
los- away, start losbellen (start barking)
losfahren (set/drive off)
statt- - - stattfinden (take place, be held [event])
stattgeben (grant)
zusammen- together, to pieces zusammenarbeiten (co-operate, collaborate)
zusammengeben (mix [ingredients])
zusammenhauen (smash to pieces)
zusammenheften (staple together)
zusammenkrachen (crash [down])
zusammenreißen (pull oneself together)
zwischen- between zwischenblenden (blend in; insert [film, music])
zwischenlanden (stop over [flying])

NOTE: All of the separable verbs form their past participle with ge-, as in zurückgegangen (zurückgehen).

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Flippo, Hyde. "German's Separable-Prefix Verbs." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Flippo, Hyde. (2020, August 26). German's Separable-Prefix Verbs. Retrieved from Flippo, Hyde. "German's Separable-Prefix Verbs." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).