So you’re interested in German. Do you dream of visiting Germany? Or maybe you are looking forward to your next trip there.
If you really want to use your German, you’ll need to get to grips with German verbs with prepositions. If you’re wondering what on earth they are, read on…
After reading this post you will know:
- What verbs with prepositions are
- How the German cases get involved with prepositional verbs
- Which German verbs with prepositions take the accusative case, and which take the dative case
- The most common German verbs with prepositions [jump to list]
What are Verbs with Prepositions?
Let’s break this down a bit. A verb is often known as a ‘describing word’. They are used to describe actions, physical states, thoughts and experiences.
Prepositions are those little words such as ‘to’, ‘in’, ‘with’, ‘at’, ‘about’ and ‘on’ which help us to make sense of how things are related in a sentence. They often appear in front of nouns or pronouns. However they also become ‘attached’ to verbs.
You do this in English without even thinking about it:
- I’m interested in …
- I’m waiting for …
- I’m going to …
Sometimes prepositions pair up with verbs, and when they do this they can completely change the meaning of the sentence. Let’s take a look at an example in English:
- Can you look after my cat?
- Can you look for my cat?
- Can you look at my cat?
In this example, when the verb ‘to look’ is paired with different prepositions, the meaning of the sentences completely changes.
German Verbs with Prepositions
German verbs also sometimes pair up with prepositions and become ‘prepositional German verbs’.
|Ich interessiert mich für Kunst
|I’m interested in art
|Ich fahre mit dem Bus
|I go by bus
|Ich warte auf dich
|I’ll wait for you
As you can see, you often can’t simply translate the English prepositions into German. Often the German prepositions aren’t the same as their English counterparts.
In these examples für = for, mit = with and auf = on.
In German you would say ‘I’m interested for Art’, ‘I go with the bus’ and ‘I’ll wait on you’. This is one of those things you’ll get better at with practice and exposure to the language.
Like in English, some verbs can pair with more than one preposition. This can completely change the meaning of the sentence. Let’s use the verb sich freuen (to please) as an example:
|Ich freue mich
|I am pleased
|Ich freue mich über die Fortschritte
|I am pleased about the progress
|Ich freue mich auf deinen Besuch
|I’m looking forward to your visit
You can see that by depending on whether we use the preposition über (about) or auf (to / on) or no preposition at all, the whole meaning of the verb can change.
While some prepositions completely change the meaning of a verb, other verbs pair with prepositions that keep the meaning almost the same:
|Denkst du an mich?
|Do you think about me?
|Was denkst du über meinen Job?
|What do you think about my job?
In this example, we use the verb denken (to think) and the prepositions an (on) and über (about). You can see how the prepositions have changed in German, but in English they don’t (we just use ‘about’ in both sentences). This is just one of those things you will learn as you get exposed to more and more German.
You can click here to jump to the full list of the most common German verbs with prepositions.
German Verbs with Prepositions & The German Cases
If you’re already familiar with German prepositions, you’ll know that which preposition you use can affect which case that follows it. For example:
|Er leidet unter einer Erkältung
|He’s suffering from a cold
|Er bittet um eine Tablette
|He asks for a tablet
In the examples above we see the following:
- The two verbs; Erkältung (a cold) and Tablette (tablet) are both feminine nouns
- They both come after a preposition
- Unter demands the dative case, so the indefinite article (eine) changes to einer
- Um demands the accusative case, so the indefinite article stays as eine
If you want to learn about German prepositions and how they affect cases, you can read the German Prepositions post here. For now, keep this chart handy so you can see which prepositions demand which cases:
There are quite a few prepositions known as ‘two-way prepositions’ which can demand the accusative or dative case. However once they are paired with their verb, they stick with just one case.
For example, even though an is a two-way preposition, when it pairs with the verb denken (to think) it demands the accusative case, and won’t change:
- Ich denke an dich = dich is the accusative pronoun
If we use an again, this time pairing it with the verb leiden (to suffer), it demands the dative case:
- Sie leidet an einer Migräne = einer is the feminine dative article
In the following section you’ll find a list of common German verbs with prepositions which demand the accusative and dative cases. You’ll see the two-way articles included in both the accusative and dative lists.
|to respond to
|Ich antworte ihr auf die Frage.
|to pay for
|Ich habe für mein neues Auto bezahlt.
|to ask for
|Er bittet um mehr Geld.
|to think of
|Ich denke an dich.
|Erinnerst du dich an mich?
|to look forward to
|Ich freue mich auf deinen Besuch.
|to be pleased about
|Sie freut sich über das Geschenk.
|to be interested in
|Ich interessiert mich für Kunst.
|to care for
|Kannst du dich um meine Katze kümmern?
|reden / sprechen
|to talk about
|Sie sprechen viel über Ihren Job.
|to fall in love with
|Er verliebte sich in sie.
|to wait for
|Ich warte auf dich.
|to work for
|Ich arbeite bei Walmart.
|to go by
|Ich fahre mit dem Straßenbahn.
|to come from
|Er kommt aus Deutschland.
|to long for
|Ich sehnen mich nach einem besseren Leben.
|to speak with
|Ich sprechen mit meinem Chef.
|to dream of
|Sie träumt davon, Deutschland zu leben.
|to stay overnight with
|Wir übernachten bei unseren Eltern.
|to warn about
|Ich habe dich vor ihm gewarnt.
|to live / stay with
|Ich wohne bei meinem Freund.
|to say goodbye to
|Wir verabschieden uns von unseren Freunden.