My Special Problem: Forever Yours – Inseparable Verbs

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green308 – Fotolia.om

In life, everything is changing. How reassuring are then the inseparable verbs, which are firmly connected with their prefix? For some people, they are really stressful! Yet inseparable verbs require much less attention than separable verbs.

The Faithful Prefix

Inseparable verbs consist of a verb and an inseparable prefix.

Example: bekommen = be + kommen

The inseparable prefixes are:

be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, zer-

Inseparable prefixes are never stressed. The emphasis is on the first syllable of the verb. This is an important difference to the separable verbs. There the emphasis is always on the prefix.

Compare:

begínnen – Das Fußballspiel hat schon begónnen.

empfángen – Die Königin empfíng ihre Minister.

entspánnen – Claudia entspánnte auf dem  Sofa.

The Meaningless Prefix

Another important difference to separable verbs is the meaning of the prefix.

The inseparable prefix has no meaning. It is never separate from the verb in a sentence.

Compare:

Separable verb wegwerfen und adverb weg

Johann isst die Banane und wirft die Bananenschale weg. Mein Geld ist weg!

Inseparable verb versprechen

Er hat mir einen Job versprochen. Ver-

Some inseparable prefixes give the verb a negative meaning.

miss

miss + verstehen = missverstehen (=falsch verstehen, to missunderstand)

zer + reißen = zerreißen (= in Stücke reißen, to tear)

In some cases, the verb without the inseparable prefix has lost its meaning:

Example.

beginnen, gelingen, verlieren

In The Past

When the verb is used in the past participle, the inseparable prefix replaces the perfect signal ge-.

Example:

Sie hat mir die Aufgabe erklärt.(Perfekt)

Er hatte die Aufgabe missverstanden. (Plusquamperfekt)

Sie wird zur Präsidentin ernannt. (Passiv)

Cruelly dismenbered verbs

Sometimes also German native speakers disconnect an inseparable prefix from the verb and use it as a separable prefix. This happens mostly with the verb missverstehen.

Warning: The following sentences are all wrong!

Sie verstehen mich miss. Wenn er das so versteht, versteht er mich miss.

Usually the Speakers want the sentence to sound more genteel. However, this use of inseparable verbs is wrong. The sentences above must read:

Sie missverstehen mich. Wenn er das so versteht, missversteht er mich.

 

 

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