Separable and Inseparable Verbs

German verbs can have two types of prefixes: separable and inseparable.

Separable prefixes are prefixes that can be separated from the main verb and placed at the end of a clause or sentence. They are always stressed when pronounced. Some common separable prefixes include:

ab- (away from, off)
an- (to, at, on, by)
aus- (out of, from)
ein- (into, in, onto)
mit- (with)
über- (over, above, across)
um- (around, about)
unter- (under, beneath)
zu- (to, towards)

Inseparable prefixes are prefixes that cannot be separated from the main verb. They are never stressed when pronounced. Some common inseparable prefixes include:

be- (to make, to do, to cause)
ent- (away from, off, out of)
er- (to become, to get, to make)
ge- (the perfect tense marker)
miss- (wrong, missing, lacking)
ver- (to make, to do, to cause)
voll- (full, completely)
zer- (to break, to shatter)

Dual prefixes are prefixes that can be either separable or inseparable depending on the context. Some common dual prefixes include:

mit- (with, to)
zu- (to, towards)
über- (over, above, across)
um- (around, about)
unter- (under, beneath)
wieder- (again)

The meaning of a prefix can affect the meaning of the verb to which it is attached. For example, the prefix mit- (with) can make a verb transitive (e.g., mitnehmen “to take with you”) or it can give the verb a meaning of “together” or “alongside” (e.g., mitgehen “to go along” or mitarbeiten “to collaborate”).

It is important to learn the meaning and usage of both separable and inseparable prefixes in order to understand German verbs.

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