Stop! Such a simple little word with a very clear meaning. And while there are equally straightforward ways to say ‘stop’ in German, the language actually has a lot of different ways to ask, demand or talk about terminating an action.
After reading this post you’ll know:
- How to say ‘stop’ in German as a command
- 4 verbs for ‘to stop’ for different situations
- How to use these words in context with example sentences
Simplest Ways to Say ‘Stop’ in German
Let’s start with the most straightforward ways to say ‘stop’ in German. These nouns are used as stand alone commands and are usually reserved for an emergency or used with a sense of urgency.
Easily the most common way to quickly tell someone to stop something. Imagine you’re walking with a friend who is about to cross the street in front of a car: Halt!
You probably know this word already as it was once common in the English language but is seldom used now. This makes a lot of sense consider English is a Germanic language.
If you want to sound a little more colloquial, Stopp! is a great alternative to Halt. It’s used in exactly the same way. Don’t forget that Stopp in German uses the German pronunciation sch-topp.
‘Stop’ in German as a Verb
So now we have the ’emergency stops’ sorted, let’s move onto using ‘stop’ as part of a sentence. There are actually a number of verbs meaning ‘to stop’ in German, and which one you use depends on the situation.
Aufhören (To Stop An Activity)
Aufhören is probably the most common verb used for ‘to stop’. It’s a separable verb which means its stem auf- is sometimes separated and goes to the end of a sentence.
It’s mostly used to describe stopping of an activity.
Ich kann nicht aufhören, dieses Buch zu lesen.
|I can’t stop reading this book.|
Der Regen wird bald aufhören.
|The rain will stop soon.|
Ich habe mit dem Rauchen aufgehört.
|I have stopped smoking.|
Anhalten (To Stop A Movement)
When you look at the word anhalten you can spot the now familiar halt there in the middle. Anhalten is used for ‘to stop’ in the context of movement, for example a vehicle, water, person. Anything that’s moving.
Again, anhalten is a separable verb, so keep this in mind when using it in sentences.
Er konnte das Auto rechtzeitig anhalten.
|He was able to stop the car in time.|
Der Aufzug hält immer plötzlich an.
|The lift / elevator always stops suddenly.|
Wir versuchen, den Wasserfluss anzuhalten.
|We’re trying to stop the flow of water.|
In the last example we’ve used versuchen (to try) which is a verb that demands an infinitive clause, which is why we have anzuhalten.
Aufhalten (To Stop Someone / Something)
Confusingly, there’s another similar way to say ‘to stop’ with a different prefix. Aufhalten is used when talking about stopping someone from doing something:
Die Polizei muss den Einbrecher aufhalten.
|The police must stop this burgler.|
Ich muss ihn aufhalten, bevor er alles ruiniert.
|I have to stop him before he ruins everything.|
Ihr könnt nicht meinen Plan der Weltherrschaft nicht aufhalten!
|You cannot stop my plan for world domination!|
Beenden (To Stop a Process / Action)
Beenden has a clue for its meaning within the word, ‘end’. Beenden is used a be more like how we use ‘end’ in English. It’s used for stopping or ending a process.
Ich habe das Projekt in 2 Wochen beendet.
|I finished the project in 2 weeks.|
Ich muss den Unterricht früher beenden.
|I have to end the class early.|
Wir beenden die Tour in der Schweiz.
|We’re ending the tour in Switzerland.|
‘Stop’ in German as an Imperative / Command
Stop is often used in the imperative form in German. Since by its nature it’s a command type verb, it’s often used in the command form. This isn’t necessarily abrupt and can be used to make polite requests.
Bitte halten Sie an!
|Please stop the car! [formal]|
Bleib stehen, ich bitte dich!
|Stop (don’t go), I’m begging you! [informal]|
In the last example we’ve used another verb, stehen bleiben, which is most often used as a command to request someone not to leave.
So now you know 7 ways to say ‘stop’ in German. I understand that all these ways can seem daunting, but with enough exposure to the language you’ll start to understand the subtle differences.
For now, if you remember and use the verb aufhören and in the command form (Hör auf!) German speakers will definitely understand what you mean.