German Lesson 9 — Verb Families

Families representing the verb families of German
Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Verbs with prefixes

Many German verbs come with prefixes such as auf, er, or um. The meaning of the verb is often similar to the same verb without the prefix, but usually not identical.

For example, steigen means to climb, but einsteigen means to get on board (a train, for example). Normally, the prefix itself provides a clue to what the verb is — ein means in, so einsteigen means to “climb into the train“.

As usual, most of the words (verbs) given here have multiple translations; only the most important ones are given here.

Here you will find a number of these verb “families”. They are easier to learn if you learn each whole family at once. Here they are:

Some very common verb families

arbeitenwork
bearbeitenedit
erarbeitenwork-out, elaborate

bringenbring, fetch
aufbringenapply
einbringenbring-in, earn
verbringenspend

findenfind (be located after being searched for)
befindenbe (in a specific, known location)
empfindenfeel (have a particular emotion)

führenlead
ausführenrun
durchführenperform (a specific action)
einführenintroduce

gebengive
abgebenleave-it-alone, deliver, submit
angebenspecify
aufgebengive-up
ausgebenthrow-away, spend, emit
begebenissue
eingebenenter (like data into a computer)
ergebensurrender
umgebenenclose
vergebenforgive

gehengo, walk, move-about
angehenapproach
ausgehengo-out (like to a restaurant)
entgehenescape
umgehenbypass, go-around, avoid
vorgehenproceed
weitergehenmove-along

gleichenbe-similar-to
ausgleichencompensate-for
vergleichencompare

haltenhold-steady (unchanging or unmoving)
aufhaltenmake-stop (as in arrest), stop
behaltenretain
einhaltenstick-to
enthaltencontain
erhaltenreceive
mithaltenkeep-up-with
unterhaltenchat
verhaltenrestrain

kommencome
aufkommenemerge
auskommenget-by (manage without a great deal of problems)
bekommenget
entkommenescape
vorkommenhappen

lassenlet-be, allow
entlassendismiss
erlassenremit, enact
hinterlassenleave-behind
verlassenabandon

lebenlive (as a breathing being, not as a resident of somewhere)
erlebenexperience

liegenlie-down (the self)
unterliegenbe-subject-to
vorliegenbe-present

machenmake, (possibly do)
ausmachenturn-off
mitmachenparticipate, corroborate

nehmentake
annehmenaccept
anzunehmenassume
aufnehmenrecord (audio or visual)
aufzunehmenrecord (audio or visual)
übernehmentake over
einnehmentake in (by observation)
entnehmenremove
hinnehmenaccept
unternehmenundertake (like a project)
vornehmenmake
vorzunehmenmake
zunehmenincrease

öffnenopen (like for the day)
eröffnenopen (like a first-time grand opening)

schaffenachieve
verschaffenprocure

sehensee
ansehenview
aussehenappear-to-others-as (as in fashionable)
versehenprovide, equip

setzenemplace
besetzenoccupy, be-unavailable-because-in-use-by-another
durchsetzenaccomplish (with some effort)
einsetzendeploy
ersetzenreplace
umsetzenimplement, translate

sorgencare-for, care-about
versorgenprovide-for

sprechenspeak
entsprechenbe-comparible-to
versprechenpromise

stehenstand
bestehenconsist-of
entstehenarise
verstehenunderstand

stellenput
bestellenorder (as in order something from Amazon)
einstellenadjust
erstellencreate, build
herstellenmanufacture, produce
vorstellenintroduce (people or an idea to a person)

zeigendemonstrate
anzeigenindicate

ziehenpull
beziehenobtain
einziehenmove-in
entziehenrevoke (could be permission)
zurückziehenwithdraw

Some other common verb families

bauenbuild
abbauendismantle
aufbauenbuild up, assemble
ausbauenremove
umbauenrenovate

bietenoffer
anbietenoffer
verbietenforbid

denkenthink
bedenkenconsider, remember, think about
nachdenkenconsider
überdenkenponder

dienenserve
bedienenserve
verdienenearn

fallenfall
ausfallenfail
einfallencollapse
entfallenbe-omitted
verfallenexpire (be no longer valid)

fangencatch
anfangenbegin
empfangen or empfängenrecieve

greifengrab
begreifencomprehend
eingreifenintervene
ergreifenapprehend

handelnbehave (in a certain way, good or bad)
behandelnattend-to, handle, medicate
verhandelnnegotiate

kaufenbuy (purchase)
einkaufenshop (in a store, even if you don’t buy anything)
verkaufensell

klärenclarify
erklärenexplain

langenreach-for
verlangendesire

laufenrun
verlaufenproceed

legenlay-down (something somewhere)
anlegeninvest
belegenoccupy, verify
hinterlegenstow
verlegenmisplace, move-it-elsewhere
vorlegenpresent

ließenlet, leave-alone or make-available-for-rent
verließendesert (withdraw help and walk away from)

schreibenwrite
beschreibendescribe
unterschreibenadd-your-signature-to

scheidenmake-separate, get-divorced
entscheidensettle
unterscheidendifferentiate

steigenclimb
aussteigenget off (as in get off a train)
einsteigenboard (as in get on a train), enter
umsteigenswitch (as in switch trains), transfer

suchensearch-for
besuchenvisit
untersucheninvestigate
versuchenattempt

tragenwear (clothing), carry
betragenbe
beitragencontribute
beantragenapply-for
ertragenendure

treffenmeet
betreffenaffect (cause an effect)

tretenstep (as in walk)
antretencompete
auftretenoccur
betretenenter (like a building)
eintretenenter (like a building), occur
vertretenrepresent

wartenwait
abwartenwait
erwartenanticipate

wählenselect
auswählenchoose (from a limited number of options)

Some less common verb families

achtenpay-attention, think highly of
beachtennotice
beobachtenobserve

bindentie (like a knot)
verbindenconnect

breitenspread (like butter on toast)
verbreitendisseminate, distribute

deuteninterpret
bedeutenmean (as in I mean everyone, not just you)

endenfinish, cease
beendenfinish, stop

fassentake
befassendeal
erfassencapture
umfasseninclude

fehlenbe-without-something
empfehlenrecommend

füllenfill
erfüllenfulfill (an expectation, promise, or agreement)

lösensolve
auslösentrigger (an event)

meldenreport
abmeldendisconnect-from
anmeldenenroll

passenbe-suitable
anpassenadjust

ratenguess
beratengive-advice-to
verratenbetray

richtenjudge
berichtenreport
einrichtenarrange
errichtenestablish

rufencall (like shouting)
anrufenphone (call on the telephone)
aufrufencall upon (as in visit)

stimmenvote
bestimmendetermine

teilensplit-apart, share
erteilengive (a due share of supplies)
verteilendistribute

treibendrive (control a vehicle or something else)
betreibenoperate (like a machine)
vertreibenexpel, sell

weisenpoint-to
aufweisenexhibit
beweisenprove
erweisenbestow
nachweisenprove
verweisenrefer-to

wendenturn
verwendenexpend

werbenadvertise
bewerbenapply
erwerbenacquire

wirkenact
auswirkenimpact-upon
bewirkencause

zählencount
erzählentell

zeichnendraw
bezeichnendescribe
verzeichnenrecord (as in taking notes)

 

Look for Jennie’s German Language Classroom for English Speakers on a Wednesday near the end of the month.

Copyright © 2020 by Jennifer Freeman. In particular, permission is not granted to assemble the parts of this series together and distribute them. You may of course post links to the individual posts.

Lesson 8, verbs

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