German Verbs with Prepositions


Find a list of common German prepositional verbs, verbs that are typically used with specific prepositions, for example "wait for" or "talk about" in English. Most German prepositional verbs are also prepositional verbs in English, but the prepositions used with the verbs are not always analogous.  Thus "wait FOR" is "warten AUF" (not "warten FÜR") in German, "believe IN" is "glauben AN" (not "glauben IN").

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In English and in German there are a number of verbs that use prepositions to convey a very specific meaning. In English, we refer to such verbs as “phrasal verbs”. 
For example, the verb “to run” is used to describe the motion or activity of running. I can run in the park, or I can go running, etc. 
But we can change the meaning of the verb “to run” slightly by adding different prepositions. 

to run into (s.o.) – to meet someone by accident
to run out of ( – to finish or use something up
to run for – to campaign for an elected office
to run with  – to take full advantage of something

These are just a few examples, but they demonstrate the point. By adding a preposition, we change the meaning of the verb, and we will always need to use a specific preposition to convey that specific meaning. For example, I cannot say “I ran for paper towels”, to express that I have used up all my paper towels. Similarly, I cannot say “He decided to run into office.” if I want to express that he decided to campaign for an elected position. 

Verbs with Prepositions in German

In German, too, there are a number of verbs that can be used by themselves, and verbs that can be used with a variety of prepositions to convey a different meaning. However, it is important to keep in mind that whenever we are using prepositions in German, we are also going to be dealing with cases and the gender of nouns. 

Some prepositions always take the dative case, some always take the accusative case, and some can take either (Wechselpräpositionen), and it is important to pay close attention to what case is triggered. 

1. Verbs withüber

There are a number of verbs that use the preposition “über”. It is an example of a “two-way” preposition, so it can be proceeded by a noun or pronoun in the accusative or dative. 

verben mit A¼ber jpg

Wir werden uns über den Brief beschweren. 
We are going to complain about the letter. 

Ich rege mich über ihn auf.  I’m upset about him. 

2. Verbs withauf

“auf” is another example of a two-way preposition. Here are a few examples of verbs that require “auf”. 

verben mit auf jpg

Ich breite mich auf den Umzug vor. 
I’m preparing myself for the move. 
Er schreibt auf einem Blatt Papier. 
He is writing on a piece of paper

3. Verbs withan” 

Another two-way preposition, “an” can be followed by an accusative or dative noun. 
Here are some examples of verbs that use “an”. 

verben mit an jpg

Ich denke oft an ihn. 
I think about him often. 
Ich glaube nicht an Schicksal. 
I don’t believe in fate.

4. Verbs withmit

The preposition “mit” always triggers the dative case. Whenever we use a verb with the preposition “mit”, the noun that follows will have to be in the dative case. 

verben mit mit jpg

Er unterhält sich gerne mit seinem Kollegen. 
He likes to talk to his colleague. 
Ich fange mit dem Project morgen an. 

I am starting (with) the project tomorrow. 

5. Verbs withum

“um” is an example of an accusative preposition, and all nouns following “um” need to be in the accusative. 

verben mit um jpg

Er kümmert sich gut um mich. 
He takes good care of me. 
Sie bitten um Ruhe. 
They are asking for quiet/silence. 

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.
Spoken Production:
I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.
Spoken Interaction:
I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).
I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.
I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programs on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.