Separable Verbs II: Prepositions as prefixes Posted by on Dec 9, 2010 in Grammar, Language

Separable verbs can be separated because they consist of two independent words, that is, they consist of the core verb and a particular prefix. The prefix is always either: a preposition, an adverb or an adjective.

In the list below, you can find one example verb for every prepositional prefix.

1. ab- :

2. an- :

3. auf- :

4. aus- :

5. bei- :

6. mit- :

7. vor- :

8. zu- :

9. nach- :

abfahren (to leave, to depart)

anrufen (to call)

aufstehen (to get up, to stand up)

ausdenken (to imagine, to make up)

beifügen (to enclose, to attach, to add)

mitsingen (to sing along)

vorstellen (to imagine, to introduce)

zuhören (to listen)

nachschauen (to look up; to check)

When you want to use a separable verb in a sentence, all you have to do is to remove the prepositional prefix from the verb, conjugate the core verb according to person, number, mood, and tense, and then move the preposition to the end of the sentence.

Here are some example sentences in the present tense and the preterit.


Der Zug fährt jetzt ab. – The train is departing now.

Der Zug fuhr gestern ab. – The train departed yesterday.


Ich rufe Dich morgen an. – I will call you tomorrow.

Ich rief Dich gestern an. – I called you yesterday.


Sie fügt dem Brief ein Foto bei. – She is adding a photo to the letter.

Sie fügte dem Brief ein Foto bei. – She added a photo to the letter.


Wir hören ihm zu. – We are listening to him.

Wir hörten ihm zu. – We listened to him.

For the Perfekt, Plusquamperfekt, and Futur II, you need the Partizip II. Forming the Partizip II is very easy. All you have to do is to insert the affix -ge- between the prepositional prefix and the core verb. When you use the Partizip II you do not have to conjugate the verb because it exists only in one form. Compare the these example sentences:

1. Ich habe dich gestern angerufen. – I called you yesterday.

2. Wir haben dich gestern angerufen. – We called you.

3. Er hat sie gestern angerufen. – He called her.

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra