German Grammar 107 – Separable verbs

A separable verb is basically a verb with a prefix. This kind of verbs also exist in English, but there are some differences. In English these are two-part verbs, or phrasal verbs, like for example “to get up“ or “to turn off“. In German however, these two parts are combined to one verb, for example:


to get up – aufstehen (auf + stehen)
to turn off – ausschalten (aus + schalten)

In a main clause sentence these verbs have to be separated from the prefix. The prefix then comes at the end of the sentence.

Thomas steht um 7:00Uhr auf. – Thomas gets up at 7.00am.

Sabine schaltet den Fernseher aus. – Sabine turns off the television.

Watch out! Not all German separable verbs are also two-part verbs in English.

Some of the most important separable verbs are:

abfahren – to depart
Der Zug fährt um 9:24Uhr ab. -The train departs at 9.24am.

abholen – to pick up
Sie holt Petra am Bahnhof ab. – She picks Petra up at the station.

anfangen – to start
Die Arbeit fängt um 9:00Uhr an. – Work starts at 9.00 a.m.

ankommen – to arrive
Er kommt am Montag an. – He arrives on Monday.

einladen – to invite
Wir laden sie zur Party ein. – We invite her to the party.

vorbereiten – to prepare
Er bereitet die Präsentation vor. – He prepares the presentation.

EXERCISE: 107 Separable Verbs | NEXT: 108 Questions