Inseparable Prefix Verbs in German (Untrennbare Verben)

Hallo, Deutschlerner. In this lesson I will teach you how to use the inseparable prefix verbs in German. I explain when not to separate the prefix from a German verb and I’ll show you a list of the inseparable prefixes. You will learn how these inseparable verbs work and how to use a variety of inseparable verbs in German through a ton of example sentences. You will also learn how these inseparable prefixes change the meanings of the verbs. To skip to a particular verb or prefix, click on the prefix from the table of contents below. 

This lesson is the first of a series of lessons about prefixes added to German verbs. This will be the only lesson about inseparable verbs. In the next several lessons I will explain how to use the separable verbs, which prefixes are separable and how each prefix changes the meaning of the verbs. Once I have those lessons made, they will be linked here. 

To get all of Herr Antrim’s materials about verb prefixes including worksheets, video scripts, mp3 files and more, click here.

You can get a copy of the verb lists for free here.

Herr Antrim created flashcards on Quizlet for every group of inseparable prefix verbs in this lesson. You can find them all in this course here.

German Verb Prefix Overview

First off, let’s talk about prefixes in general. German verbs are often modified with prefixes. They change the meaning and morph one verb into another. For example, the verb “geben” is often translated as “to give”, but when you add the prefix “aus-” we translate it with the English verb “to spend”. While this does more accurately represent the usage of the verb “ausgeben”, you can also translate it as “to give out”. This tells us the prefix aus- changes the direction of the “geben” from a more general non-specific “away from the subject” direction to a slightly more specific “outward” direction.

Basically every verb in German has a direction of sorts. The direction of “lernen” is “from less to more”. For “leben” the direction is “forward”. The direction of “singen” is “from your mouth away”. These directions are changed by prefixes.

Separable & Inseparable Prefix Examples

Most prefixes, like “aus-” are separable. This means that the prefix is often moved to the end of the sentence. For example: 

Ich gebe zwanzig Euro für das Konzert aus.
I am spending twenty Euros for the concert. 

Some prefixes are inseparable. This means that they modify the meaning of the verb, but they stay attached instead of being moved to the end of the sentence. For example, “kommen” means “to come”, but “bekommen” means “to receive”.

Ich komme aus Frankfurt.
I am from Frankfurt.

Ich bekomme einen Brief aus Frankfurt.
I am receiving a letter from Frankfurt.

Although these prefixes don’t get removed, you should be aware of them, because they won’t take the ge- prefix that is added in the Perfekt tense, while the separable verbs will.

List of Inseparable Prefixes

Inseparable Prefix List
Inseparable Prefix List
be-, ent-, emp-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, zer-

Missing from the list above is emp-, which is an alternative version of ent-

Rules for Inseparable Prefix Verbs

Now that we know what they look like and have a general idea of their purpose, let’s talk about the rules. As I mentioned, the inseparable prefixes are the easy ones. They simply act like normal verbs. You may recognize the base of the verb, but the meaning has changed due to the prefix. In the present, future and simple past (Präteritum) tenses, you simply treat them like normal verbs. If the non-prefixed version is irregular in the present or past, the prefixed version is irregular in the same way in the same tenses (usually).

When you use a verb with an inseparable prefix in the Perfekt tense or any tense based on the Perfekt tense, the Pluperfect (Plusquamperfekt) and the Future Perfect (Futur 2), you don’t add ge- to the beginning of the past participle of those verbs. 

InfinitivePast ParticipleInfinitivePast Participle
antwortengeantwortetbeantwortenbeantwortet
dankengedanktbedankenbedankt
kommengekommenbekommenbekommen
deutengedeutetbedeutenbedeutet

No Bee Gees or Heebie Jeebies in German

This is why in my German 2 classes we have a saying: “If you have a be-, you don’t need a ge-.” This is mostly due to the fact that the only inseparable prefix their textbook seems to care about is the be- found at the beginning of words like “bekommen” (to receive), “bedanken” (to thank), “bearbeiten” (to edit), “beantworten” (to answer), and so on.

Obviously this rule applies to all of the prefixes, but it is particularly helpful for verbs that aren’t really seen as having prefixes at all like “beginnen” (to begin) and “begegnen” (to meet), as there is no such thing as “ginnen” or “gegnen”, but “beginnen” and “begegnen” are both treated as if the be- at the beginning is simply an inseparable prefix. 

Where to Put the Emphasis in an Inseparable Verb

The only other thing that is special about the inseparable prefixes is that the emphasis of the pronunciation is on the main part of the verb and not on the prefix. So it is beantworten, bedanken, bekommen and so on NOT beantworten, bedanken, bekommen. 

That’s it. There is really only one special rule for inseparable prefixes and if you are just starting to learn German, this probably won’t affect anything you are trying to express right now. At least until you start trying to speak in the past tense. Then you obviously need this rule. 

be- 

Each prefix changes the verb in a distinct way. Now that you know the rules for using the inseparable prefix verbs, I will show you each of the inseparable prefixes and explain what they do to the meaning of the verb. 

This prefix generally does stuff that involves direct objects or the transitivity of a verb. In other words, sometimes it makes a verb that didn’t used to be able to take a direct accusative object take a direct object.

I even wrote a song for this prefix at the request of one of my YouTube subscribers. It is one of my better songs.

This happens with verbs like “antworten” and “beantworten”. Both mean “to answer”, which is often confusing for German learners. “antworten” is used to answer people and that person is indicated in the dative case. There is a sort of implied direct object of “the question”, but there is no real direct object to speak of. “beantworten” by contrast is used to directly answer questions, letters and the like. For example: 

(be)antworten
to answer 

Er antwortet mir nicht.
He doesn’t answer me. 

Er beantwortet die Frage nicht.
He doesn’t answer the question. 

(be)zaubern
to do magic, conjure up, (to enchant)

This is the same for the difference between “zaubern” (to do magic or conjure up) and “bezaubern” (to enchant). 

FINDE EINEN MUTTERSPRALICHEN LEHRER ONLINE / FANG AN ZU SPRECHEN

Die Hexe zaubert einen Besen.
The witch conjures up a broom. 

Die Hexe bezaubert den Besen.
The witch enchants the broom. 

In the first one, the witch created a broom (probably from “thin air” or out of nothing). In the second, there is already a broom there and she enchants it, as in the movie “The Sword in the Stone” (Die Hexe und der Zauberer) or Fantasia

(be)kommen
to come, (to receive)

Sometimes the prefix be- shifts the action onto the object or changes it from one object to another. For example the verb “kommen” means “to come”. This indicates that the subject is going in the direction of a destination. If you add be- to this verb, it becomes “bekommen”, which means “to receive”. This moved the action from the person going somewhere to the object moving and the person being stationary. Here it is in action. 

Ich komme um 3 Uhr.
I’m coming at 3 o’clock. 

Ich habe deine E-Mail bekommen.
I received your email.  

(be)achten
to respect, esteem, (to pay attention to, heed)

Here is another example of this happening with a be- verb. 

Du solltest deinen Vater achten.
You should respect/esteem your father. 

Du solltest die Regeln beachten.
You should heed/pay attention to/respect the rules. 

be- Prefix Verb List

The be- prefix is easily one of the most used inseparable prefixes. One website I read said approximately 25% of all inseparable prefix verbs are made with the be- prefix. That being said, I don’t know where their numbers come from, so take these percentages with a grain of salt. Below you can see a list of all of the verbs I could find with this prefix. I didn’t come up with this. This is from wiktionary.org. A lot of these I have personally never heard or used.

beachten
to pay attention to, heed
beabsichtigen
to intend
beanstanden
to object, make a complaint
beantragen
to request, plead
beantworten
to answer (a question)
bearbeiten
to work on, rework
bedauern
to regret, commiserate
bedanken 
to thank 
bedecken
to cover
bedenken
to consider, deliberate
bedeuten
to mean, signify
bedienen
to serve, operate 
bedrohen
to threaten
beehren
to honor
beeilen
to hurry, be quick
beenden
to finish, complete
beerben
to succeed, inherit
beerdigen
to bury, inter
befehlen
to command, order
befeuern
to heat
beflecken
to sully, taint, stain
befördern
to convey, send
befragen
to question (someone)
befreien
to free, liberate
befürchten
to fear 
begehen
to commit (an act)
begehren
to desire, covet
begleiten
to accompany
beglücken
to please, bless
begreifen
to comprehend
begrüßen 
to welcome, greet
begünstigen
to promote, favor
behalten
to retain, keep
behandeln
to treat, handle
behaupten
to claim, assert
beheizen
to heat
beherrschen 
to control
beirren
to confuse, mislead
bejahen
to affirm, to say yes to
bekämpfen
to fight against
beknien
to lean on, be urgently
bekochen
to cook for someone
bekommen
to receive, get
beköstigen
to feed someone, cater for
bekümmern
to trouble, distress
belassen
to leave something
belasten
to strain, burden
belauschen
to overhear, eavesdrop
belehnen
to mortgage
belehren
to instruct, lecture
belobigen
to commend, praise
belohnen
to reward
belügen
to lie to someone
belustigen
to amuse
bemächtigen
to seize, usurp
bemannen
to man, crew
benachrichtigen
to notify
benachteiligen
to wrong, adversely affect
beobachten
to watch, observe
berauben
to rob, spoil
bereichern
to enrich
bereuen
to regret
besamen
to fertilize, inseminate
beschäftigen
to employ, keep busy
beschatten
to tail, shadow
beschenken
to give presents to
beschießen
to batter, bombard
bescheißen
to cheat, swindle
beschlafen
to bed someone
beschleunigen
to accelerate
beschließen
to resolve, determine, decide
beschneiden
to prune, circumcise 
beschönigen
to whitewash, sugarcoat
beschreiten
to pursue
beschuldigen
to accuse
beschweren
to encumber, ballast
beschwichtigen
to allay, appease
beschwören
to invoke, implore
besehen
to look at
besetzen
to occupy, man, conquer
besitzen
to possess
bestehen
to insist, persist
bestehlen
to steal from someone
besteuern
to tax, impose a tax on
bestrafen
to punish, sentence
bestrahlen
to irradiate
bestreuen
to sprinkle, strew
bestücken
to fit, equip
besuchen
to attend, visit
besudeln
to sully, besmirch 
betanken
to refuel, fill up
betasten
to palpate, palm
betätigen
to operate, activate
betatschen
to feel up, grope
betonen
to emphasize, enhance
betören
to infatuate, beguile
betrachten
to consider, contemplate
betrauern
to mourn, bemoan
betreiben
to pursue, operate
betreten
to tread, step on
betrinken
to get drunk
betrügen
to deceive
beweisen
to prove, witness, substantiate
bewerkstelligen
to accomplish, bring about
bewilligen
to grant, approve, allow
bezahlen
to pay
bezaubern
to enchant, charm
bezeichnen
to denote, designate
bezichtigen
to accuse, incriminate
beziehen
to refer, correlate
bezwingen
to subjugate, conquer

ent-

This prefix is relatively popular, too. That website I mentioned just a minute ago said that about 15% of the inseparable prefix verbs start with ent-. It has a general meaning of removing something, but most often is translated with the prefixes un-, de- or dis- in English.

enthaupten
to behead, decapitate

My personal favorite of these verbs doesn’t follow this convention, however. The verb “enthaupten” means “to behead”. (There is the option to translate it as “decapitate”, which would mean it does use one of the aforementioned English prefixes.) There is no verb “haupten”, but there is the noun “Haupt”, which refers to the main part of something. In this case, we have ent- in the front, which makes it so this verb literally means “to remove the main part”.

Der Henker enthauptet den Verbrecher.
The executioner beheads/decapitates the criminal. 

(ent)laden
to load, (to unload)

There are some less disturbing examples of this prefix, obviously. For example: the verb “laden” means “to load”, add in ent- and it means “to unload”.  

Die Bibliothekarin lädt die Bücher in den Wagen.
The librarian loads the books into the cart. 

Die Bibliothekarin entlädt die Bücher vom Wagen.
The librarian unloads the books from the cart. 

(ent)decken
to cover, (to discover)

“decken” means “to cover”, while “entdecken” means “to discover, uncover”. Here they are in action.

Das Kind deckt den Tisch.
The child sets the table. (covers the table with required items)

Das Kind entdeckt Kaugummi unter seinem Schreibtisch.
The child discovers gum under his desk.

Der Untersuchungsrichter deckt die Leiche.
The coroner covers the body.

Der Untersuchungsrichter entdeckt die Leiche.
The coroner discovers the body.

entfernen
to remove

A very popular verb in this category is “entfernen”, which means “to remove”. The base is “fern”, which isn’t a verb, but is an adjective or adverb that means “far”. So this is like removing something far away from where it was. For example: 

Ich weiß nicht, wie man diese Malware entfernen kann.
I don’t know how one can remove this malware. 

(ent)färben
to color, dye, (to discolor, bleach)

One that I just think is cool, because of the way it works is “entfärben”, “to bleach or discolor”. There is “färben”, which means “to dye or color”. Adding ent- makes it so you remove the coloring that was added through the verb “färben”. 

Ich färbe meine Schuhe grün.
I am dying/coloring my shoes green. 

Mami, du hast meine Hose entfärbt!
Mom, you discolored my pants! 

ent- Prefix Verb List

You get the idea. ent- makes some sort of removal action with the verb. You could also think of it as a reversal of the action that happened without ent-. Here is the big list of verbs that use this prefix. 

entarten
to degenerate
entblättern
to shed leaves
entbrennen
to flare up, conflagrate
entdecken
to discover
entehren
to dishonor, defile, defame
enteilen
to hasten, hurry away
enterben
to disinherit, cut out of one’s will
entfachen
to spark, kindle, inflame
entfernen
to remove, extract
entfesseln
to unleash, set free
entfetten
to degrease, defat
entflammen
to kindle, inflame, catch fire
entfliehen
to escape, get away
entfolgen
to unfollow
entfremden
to alienate, estrange
entfärben
to bleach, decolor
entführen
to abduct, kidnap
entgiften
to detox
enthaaren
to remove hair
enthäuten
to skin, flay, peel
enthüllen
to expose, unveil, disclose
entkräften
to weaken, debilitate
entlarven
to reveal, debunk, unmask
entnehmen
to extract, withdraw
entpuppen
to emerge from its chrysalis/cocoon
entrosten
to derust, remove rust
entschädigen
to reimburse, compensate, indemnify
entschärfen
to defuse, alleviate, disarm
entsetzen
to relieve, oust
entsichern
to unlock, activate
entsprießen
to arise from something
entspringen
to arise from, spring up
entstehen
to emerge, rise
entwaffnen
to disarm
entzaubern
to disenchant, break the spell, debunk
entzünden
to kindle, inflame, ignite

emp-

This is a variant of ent-, but is only used with these three verbs and verbs derived from them. 

empfangen
to receive 
empfehlen
to recommend 
empfinden
to feel, sense

Ich habe keine Nachrichten empfangen.
I haven’t received any (phone) notifications. 

Der Kellner empfiehlt den Rinderbraten.
The waiter recommends the roast beef. 

Wir empfinden eine große Verantwortung für die heutigen Probleme.
We feel a great responsibility for the problems of today. 

er-

This prefix is another pretty popular one. That website I keep mentioning says it makes up 10% of all inseparable prefix verbs in German.

It can be used to initiate the action of the verb. For example: “lernen” means “to learn”, but “erlernen” is usually translated as “to master”. It can also be translated as “to learn”, however, which makes it a bit confusing. This verb is different from “lernen” in that with “lernen”, you are adding to your knowledge and the previous level of knowledge is unknown or unclear. With “erlernen”, we know that you had no prior knowledge about the subject and the learning process has begun with the sentence that you are saying. 

Ich lerne Deutsch.
I am learning German.

We don’t know how much German I knew before this sentence, but we know that the knowledge has increased as a result of this sentence.

Ich erlerne Deutsch.
I am acquiring/learning German.

We can tell with the prefix er- that I previously didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but I am initiating the learning process with this sentence.

(er)trinken
to drink, (to drown)

A strange, but colorful example of this is “trinken”, which means “to drink” and “ertrinken”, which means “to drown”. 

Er trinkt Wasser.
He is drinking water. 

Er ist im Wackelpudding ertrunken.
He drowned in pudding. 

(er)kennen
to know, (to recognize)

Ich kenne den Mann.
I know the man.

Er erkennt mich auch.
He recognizes me too.

Verbs from Adjectives with er-

You can create a verb from an adjective using er-. If possible, the verb will add an umlaut to the base of the verb when you do this.

erniedrigen
to humiliate

For example: The adjective “niedrig” means “low”. When you add the prefix er- and the requisite -en at the end to make it a verb, it becomes “erniedrigen”, which is “to humiliate”. Literally “to make someone low”. As I mentioned before er- initiates the action of the verb, which means that this verb is literally starting the lowering of someone.

Der Muttersprachler erniedrigt den Lehrer, indem er jede Kleinigkeit korrigiert.
The native speaker humiliates the teacher by correcting every little thing.  

ergänzen
to complete

Another example of this is often used in worksheets. The adjective “ganz” means “whole”. The verb version “ergänzen” means “to complete or make whole”. Again, we are initiating the action of making something whole with this verb. For example: 

Ergänze die folgenden Sätze!
Complete the following sentences. 

er- Prefix Verb List

Here is the obligatory list of verbs that use the prefix er-. 

erachten
to consider, think of (in a certain way)
erarbeiten
to develop, compile, work towards
erbauen
to build, construct
erbeben
to shudder, tremble, quake
erbetteln
to be, panhandle
erbeuten
to prey, capture, entrap
erbieten
to undertake, offer, volunteer
erbitten
to solicit, request, petition
erblassen
to fade, grow/turn pale
erblicken
to behold, catch sight of
erblühen
to blossom, bloom
erbrechen
to vomit
erbringen
to render, perform, generate
erdenken
to conceive, think up
erdreisten
to dare, venture
erdrosseln
to choke, strangle
erdrücken
to overwhelm, crush/smother (to death)
erdulden
to endure, tolerate
ereifern
to get excited about something
ereilen
to befall, overtake
ererben
to inherit
erfahren
to experience
erfassen
to capture, collect, acquire
erfinden
to invent
erfolgen
to follow, ensue
erfordern
to require, demand
erfragen
to inquire about, ask
erfreuen
to please, delight
erfrieren
to freeze to death 
erfrischen
to refresh
erfüllen
to fulfill, accomplish, satisfy
ergänzen
to complete, complement
ergaunern
to scam
ergeben
to yield, give, reveal
ergießen
to pour, spill
ergrauen
to grey, turn grey
ergreifen
to seize, grasp, grab
erhalten
to obtain, receive
erhängen
to hang (to death)
erhärten
to solidify, confirm
erheben
to raise, elevate
erheischen
to command (attention)
erhellen
to lighten, illuminate
erhitzen
to heat, warm
erhöhen
to raise, increase
erhoffen
to anticipate, wish for
erholen
to rally, recover
erhören
to answer (a prayer, plea)
erkälten
to catch a cold
erkämpfen
to eke out, carve out
erkaufen
to buy, pay dearly fo
erkennen
to recognize, realize
erkiesen
to choose
erklären
to explain, declare
erklimmen
to crest, clamber
erklingen
to resound, ring out
erkranken
to sicken, become diseased
erküren
to choose
erlahmen
to languish, grow weak
erlangen
to gain, obtain
erlassen
to exempt, cancel, abate
erleben
to experience
erledigen
to manage, finish, take care of 
erlegen
to slay, kill
erleiden
to suffer, incur
erlernen
to learn, master
erlesen
to select
erleuchten
to illuminate
erliegen
to succumb
erlöschen
to lapse, expire 
erlösen
to release, save
erlügen
to fabricate something
ermahnen
to urge, caution, remind
ermangeln
to lack
ermitteln
to determine, investigate
ermöglichen
to enable, make possible
ermorden
to murder, assassinate
ermüden
to tire, fatigue
ermuntern
to encourage, cheer up
ermutigen
to encourage, embolden
ernähren
to nourish, feed
ernennen
to appoint, nominate 
erniedrigen
to humiliate, debase
eröffnen
to establish, initiate
erpressen
to blackmail, extort
erproben
to prove, attempt, try
erraten
to guess, answer
errechnen
to reckon, calculate
erregen
to thrill, excite
erreichen
to obtain, reach, accomplish
erretten
to redeem, save
errichten
to erect, establish
erringen
to achieve, gain, win
erröten
to blush, flush, redden
ersaufen
to drown
erschlaffen
to go limp, slacken
erschaffen
to create, fabricate
erschallen
to resound, ring out
erschauen
to behold, see
erscheinen
to appear, emerge
erschießen
to shoot (and kill)
erschlagen
to slay, beat (to death)
erschließen
to exploit, develop
erschöpfen
to deplete, exhaust
erschrecken
to scare, frighten
ersehen
to see, learn from
ersehnen
to crave, desire
ersetzen
to replace, substitute
erspähen
to spy, discover
erstarren
to stiffen, congeal
erstaunen
to astonish, amaze
erstechen
to stab (to death)
erstellen
to issue, compile, build
ersterben
to die away (down)
ersticken
to choke, suffocate
erstreben
to strive, aim at
erstreiten
to contend successfully for
erstürmen
to storm, take by storm
ertappen
to cop, catch out
erteilen
to confer, award, administer
ertönen
to sound, resonate
ertragen
to bear, endure, tolerate
ertränken
to drown
erträumen
to picture, dream of
ertrinken
to drown
ertüchtigen
to toughen up, get fit
erwachsen
to grow up
erwägen 
to contemplate, deliberate
erwählen
to choose, elect, select
erwärmen
to warm (up)
erwarten
to expect
erwecken
to arouse, inspire
erwehren
to resist, ward off
erweichen
to melt, soften
erweisen
to prove, demonstrate
erweitern
to expand, broaden
erwerben
to acquire, earn, procure
erwidern
to respond, retort, reply
erwirken
to effect, obtain
erwirtschaften
to earn, obtain
erwischen
to catch, nab, seize
erwürgen
to choke, strangle
erzählen
to tell, narrate
erzeigen
to prove, show
erzeugen
to generate, manufacture, constitute
erziehen
to educate, rear, train
erzielen
to achieve, attain, obtain
erzürnen
to irritate, anger, offend
erzwingen
to compel, force, extort

ge-

This is my least favorite prefix, because the meaning seems to be completely arbitrary. It’s like the Germans ran out of prefixes to use and so they just threw all of the other verbs into this category. Luckily it isn’t nearly as popular as some of the other prefixes with more definitive meanings. 

(ge)brauchen
to need, (to use)

I hate the verbs “brauchen” and “gebrauchen”. “brauchen” means “to need”, but “gebrauchen” means “to use”. 

Ich brauche einen Bleistift.
I need a pencil. 

Ich habe einen Bleistift gebraucht.
I needed a pencil. 

Ich gebrauche einen Bleistift.
I am using a pencil. 

Ich habe den Bleistift gebrauchen.
I used the pencil. 

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IN THE PERFEKT TENSE IS -EN vs -T! 

FINDE EINEN MUTTERSPRALICHEN LEHRER ONLINE / FANG AN ZU SPRECHEN

(ge)denken
to think, (to commemorate)

“denken” and “gedenken” are worse. Check out these examples:

Ich denke an deine Mutter.
I am thinking about your mother. 

Ich habe oft an deine Mutter gedacht.
I thought about your mother often. 

Mit dieser Tafel gedenken wir den Soldaten.
With this plaque we are commemorating the soldiers. 

Mit dieser Tafel haben wir den Soldaten gedacht.
With this plaque we commemorated the soldiers.

This time there is literally no difference between the past participle of “gedenken” and “denken”. You can tell based on the use and the context, but still, that is bothersome. 

Basically what I am saying is that you need to be careful with verbs with the prefix ge-, as they often have a non-prefixed version that shares some scary similarities to the prefixed version.

ge- Prefix Verb List

As I mentioned before, the prefix ge- isn’t nearly as popular as some of the other prefixes on our list for today, so the list for this prefix is shorter. 

FINDE EINEN MUTTERSPRALICHEN LEHRER ONLINE / FANG AN ZU SPRECHEN
gebieten
to demand, command
gebrauchen
to use
gedenken
to commemorate
gefallen
to please, delight
gefrieren
to freeze, congeal
geruhen
to condescend
gehören
to belong to
geleiten
to usher, escort
genießen
to enjoy, relish
gerinnen
to congeal, clot
gestehen
to confess, admit
geziemen
to become, befit, behoove

miss-

Unlike ge-, miss- is super easy to use. It is pretty much the same as the English prefix mis-. This prefix indicates something went awry. It didn’t go as planned. Something is bad.

(miss)achten
to respect, regard, (to disregard, disobey)

For example: “achten” means “to respect or regard”, but “missachten” means “to disregard, disobey”. 

Wir achten das Gesetz.
We respect the law. 

Er hat die Warnung missachtet.
He is disregarded the warning. 

(miss)trauen
to trust, (to mistrust)

“trauen” is “to trust”, but “misstrauen” is “to mistrust”. 

Ich traue ihm nicht.
I don’t trust him. 

Ich misstraue ihm.
I mistrust him. 

(miss)brauchen
to need, (misuse)

Die Frau braucht ein neues Auto.
The woman needs a new car.

Der böse Junge missbraucht den armen Hund.
The evil boy abuses the poor dog.

(miss)(ver)stehen
to stand, (to understand),

A fun one is “missverstehen”, as it has two prefixes, miss- and ver-. Both of them are inseparable. “stehen” means “to stand”. “verstehen” means “to understand”. “missverstehen” means “to misunderstand”. 

stehen – to stand
Elmo steht in der Ecke.
Elmo is standing in the corner. 

verstehen – to understand
Elmo versteht den Mann.
Elmo understands the man. 

missverstehen – to misunderstand
Elmo missversteht den Mann.
Elmo misunderstands the man. 

miss- Prefix Verb List

The list for this prefix is pretty short, too. 

missachten
to disregard, flout
missbrauchen
to misuse, abuse
missdeuten
to misconstrue, misinterpret
missgönnen
to grudge, begrudge
misshandeln
to abuse, maltreat
misslingen
to fail, miscarry, be unsuccessful
misstrauen
to mistrust, distrust, suspect
missverstehen
to misunderstand

ver- 

There are a ton of verbs that start with ver-. This is partially due to the fact that this prefix is relatively flexible with its meanings. There are several categories into which one can classify verbs with the prefix ver-, but they all have one overarching idea. The prefix ver- changes the direction of the verb. It doesn’t point it in a particular direction, it simply means that it isn’t in the direction that the verb went prior to the prefix ver- being applied. The actual direction is expressed through the rest of the sentence.  

(ver)laufen
to walk, run, (to get lost)

The first category that most people mention is a concept of completing or going away. The verb “laufen” means “to run, walk, or at the very least go on foot”. Generally there is a direction or destination in mind when the “laufen” takes place. When you add ver-, you get “verlaufen”, which translates as “to get lost”. It literally is going somewhere, but you don’t end up where you wanted to go. You could think of it as indicating that something is going to excess or in a bad way. 

If you want to point the direction of a verb with ver- in a particular direction, you need to add a bit more info to the sentence to give that context, as the verb and prefix combination on their own can’t do that. 

Ich laufe zum Bahnhof.
I am running to the train station.

The destination is clear and I purposefully reached the destination.

Ich verlaufe mich zum Bahnhof.
I lose myself to the train station.

In this sentence “laufen” is not going straight to the train station. The subject is lost or getting lost, but still arrives at the train station even though he got lost or because he got lost. 

(ver)hungern
to hunger, (to starve)

“hungern” is translated as “to hunger”, but “verhungern” is “to starve”. Literally to hunger to excess. 

Du wirst nicht mehr hungern oder dursten.
You will no longer hunger or thirst. 

Ich muss frühstücken, sonst werde ich verhungern.
I need to eat breakfast, otherwise I will starve. 

(ver)jagen
to hunt, (to chase away)

“jagen” is “to hunt”, but “verjagen” is “to chase away”. 

Der Eiskönig jagt den Drachen.
The ice king hunts the dragon. 

Der Drachen verjagt die Schafe.
The dragon chases away the sheep. 

(ver)achten
to respect, regard, (to despise)

I’ve mentioned “achten” a couple of times now. When you add ver-, you get “to despise”. You “regard” them in the wrong direction.

Mein Hund verachtet Eichhörnchen.
My dog despises squirrels. 

vereinfachen
to simplify

It can also imbue a verb with an attribute by changing a noun or adjective into a verb. “vereinfachen”, for example means “to make simple”, as the word “einfach” means “simple”. 

Sollte ich diese Arbeit vereinfachen?
Should I make this work easier? 

versteinern
to petrify, turn to stone

You can make things into stone using the verb “versteinern”, which comes from the noun “Stein” or “stone”. 

Find Native German Teachers on italki

Nach ein paar Millionen Jahren versteinern die Bäume.
After a few  million years, the trees turn to stone (petrify). 

verkörpern
to embody, represent

You can also do this with slightly less literal verbs like “verkörpern” (to embody), which comes from the noun, “der Körper” (the body). 

Diese Schlange verkörpert keine Gefahr.
This snake represents (embodies) no danger. 

ver- Prefix Verb List

As I mentioned earlier, this is the most popular inseparable prefix in the German language. That website I keep mentioning says it makes up 45% of all inseparable verbs, but this is the one that makes me question their numbers, as I found fewer verbs with ver- than er-. 

verabreichen
to administer, deliver
verabscheuen
to abhor, detest, nauseate
verabschieden
to dismiss, see off, say goodbye
veralbern
to tease, stultify
verallgemeinern
to generalize, universalise
verändern
to change, alter, modify
veranlassen
to prompt, induce
verantworten
to answer (for something)
verarbeiten
to process, manufacture
verärgern
to annoy, exasperate
verarschen
to hoax, to take someone for a ride
verarzten
to doctor, administer first aid to someone
verballern
to squander, waste
verbannen
to banish, relegate
verbeamten
to make someone a civil servant
verbessern
to improve, enhance
verbieten
to forbid, prohibit, ban
verbinden
to connect, link
verbraten
to waste, fritter away
verbuddeln
to bury, plant
verderben
to spoil, taint, ruin
verdienen
to earn, deserve
verdingen
to hire out
verehren
to worship, adore, revere
verelenden
to immiserate, pauperize
verengen
to constrict, narrow
vererben
to bequeath, hand down
verfahren
to proceed, act
verfallen
to decay, expire, decline
verfassen
to indict, draft, compose
verfeinden
to make enemies of
verflachen
to flatten, degenerate
verflüssigen
to liquefy
verfolgen
to pursue, follow
verfremden
to alienate
verfügen
to command, decree
verführen
to seduce, allure, mislead
vergessen
to forget
vergeuden
to squander, waste
vergolden
to gild, gold-plate
vergöttern
to adore, idolize
vergraben
to bury
vergrößern
to enhance, increase
verhalten
to restrain, control
verhauen
to whack, spank
verheißen
to augur, promise
verhelfen
to help provide
verhunzen
to ruin, spoil
verhütten
to smelt ore
verirren
to stray, become lost
verkaufen
to sell
verkehren
to pervert
verklären
to glorify
verkörpern
to embody, epitomize
verköstigen
to feed, provide with meals
verkünden
to declare, proclaim
verkuppeln
to matchmake
verlangsamen
to decelerate, slow down
verlassen
to leave, desert
verleugnen
to disown, deny
verlieren
to lose, forfeit
verludern
to squander
vermachen
to bequeath
vermehren
to increase, multiply
vermindern
to reduce, impair, shrink
vermissen
to miss
vermöbeln
to lambast, thrash, bash, beat up
vermüllen
to litter
vernageln
to nail up something, board up
verpassen
to miss
verpissen
to bugger off, eff off, piss off
verprassen
to squander, blow, fritter away
verprügeln
to batter, pummel, wallop
verpulvern
to blow (money)
versachlichen
to objectify
versagen
to fail, malfunction, fall through
versalzen
to oversalt
versanden
to silt up, fizzle out, peter out
verschalen
to lag, plank
verscherzen
to forfeit, trifle away
verschießen
to misplay, shoot away
verschlampen
to lose
verschütten
to spill
verschwenden
to dissipate, squander, waste
verschwimmen
to become blurred, grow hazy
verschwinden
to disappear, vanish
verseuchen
to pollute, infect, contaminate
versichern
to assure, assert, insure
versieben
to squander a chance
versilbern
to silver-plate, cover with silver
versinken
to sink
versohlen
to belt, leather, paddle
verstehen
to understand, comprehend
versuchen
to attempt, try
vertiefen
to deepen, intensify
vertreiben
to banish, displace
vertreten
to substitute, deputize
vertun
to waste, squander, fool away
vervielfältigen
to duplicate, manifold
verwahrlosen
to go to seed, become dilapidated
verwässern
to dilute, water down
verweichlichen
to grow soft, sissify, render effeminate
verwerfen
to repudiate, condemn, abolish
verwirken
to forfeit
verwünschen
to imprecate, cuss, curse
verwursten
to rehash, make into sausage

zer-

This prefix is used to destroy things or break them into pieces. I mean that literally. Words like “stören” (to bother, disturb) change into “zerstören” (to destroy). Literally that would be to bother or disturb to pieces. Here is an example. 

(zer)stören
to disturb, bother, (to destroy)

Bitte, stör mich nicht, während ich arbeite.
Please, don’t disturb me while I am working. 

Ein Feuer hat den Wald zerstört.
A fire destroyed the forest. 

Das stört mich nicht.
That doesn’t bother me.

Der Außerirdischer zerstört die Menschen.
The alien destroys the people.

(zer)teilen
to divide, share, (to cut up/off)

It doesn’t have to be this drastic, however, as the verb “teilen” means “to divide”, but when zer- is added it becomes “zerteilen” (to cut up/off). 

Seine Mutter teilt den Kuchen.
His mother divides (shares) the cake. 

Die Mauer hat Berliner 28 Jahre zerteilt.
The wall cut the Berliners off for 28 years.

(zer)beißen
to bite, (to bite in two, chew up)

Of course there are a lot of terrible verbs in this list, because they all mean to destroy something by means of the main part of the verb. For example: 

Der Hund hat mich gebissen.
The dog bit me. 

Das Schnabeltier hat meinen Finger zerbissen.
The platypus chewed up my finger. 

(zer)pflücken
to pick, (to pick apart)

Der Junge pflückt ein paar Blumen.
The boy picks a few flowers. 

Der Junge zerpflückt ein paar Blumen.
The boy picks a few flowers apart. 

zer- Prefix Verb List

Here is the last big list of verbs for the day. 

zerbeißen
to masticate, bite something in two, chew
zerbersten
to burst, rupture
zerbomben
to bomb to pieces
zerbröckeln
to crumble
zerdrücken
to crush, squash
zerfahren
to kill (with a vehicle), flatten
zerfleddern
to tatter
zerfleischen
to mangle, tear to pieces
zerfressen
to erode, corrode
zergliedern
to parse, dismember, dissect
zerhacken
to mince, hack, chop up
zerhauen
to beat to pieces
zerkauen
to scrunch, chew up, masticate
zerknautschen
to crumple
zerknüllen
to rumple, wad into a ball
zerkrümeln
to crumble
zerlassen
to melt
zermanschen
to smash
zermartern
to torment
zermürben
to demoralize, wear down
zerpflücken
to pick to pieces
zerreiben
to grind, pulverize
zerrütten
to subvert, ruin, wreck, destroy
zersägen
to saw up, slab, cut up
zerschellen
to burst, shatter, smash to pieces
zerschlagen
to smite, batter, break
zerschmelzen
to melt (away)
zerschneiden
to cut, carve, dissect
zerschrammen
to bruise, seam
zerspalten
to split
zersprengen
to scatter
zerspringen
to burst, shatter
zerstampfen
to pound, bruise, pulverize
zerteilen
to dissipate, dissect, break up, divide up
zertrennen
to disjoint, sever, separate
zertreten
to squelch, trample, scrunch
zertrümmern
to smash, break, pound
zerwühlen
to dishevel, churn up, make a mess of
zerzausen
to ruffle, rough up
Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
German Learning Materials

Ads

buche jetzt Einzelststunden mit online Sprachlehrern! - besuche italki.com