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So my problem is that I find it slightly confusing that there are some verbs that change their meaning with different prefixes, and others that have the same meaning but are used in different contexts, like:

entscheiden unterscheiden

sprechen besprechen entsprechen

fahren verfahren

usw

I know of trennbare und untrennbare verbs but I need to know if there is a dictionary or something to learn those words, or if there is a rule for that. Obviously there won't be a rule for verbs changing their meaning with different prefixes, but perhaps at least for those to use in different contexts?

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Which verbs have the same meaning but are used in different contexts? –  c.p. Mar 8 at 9:23
    
ändern, verändern –  mborham Mar 8 at 9:53

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A dictionary providing all forms of prefixes to a given verb with appropriate translations will lead to rather lengthy lists because there are so many.

Let me therefore suggest the following approach which will give you a concise list of most if not all prefixed verb forms.

  1. Search for wordformation of a given verb in canoonet

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  2. From the huge list of form select a prefixed form of interest:

    enter image description here

  3. In the search box on the top of the page you will then find this verb form ready for search.

    enter image description here

  4. Performing the search will give the meaning (in German) and examples of usage:

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In addition to this you will be given links to a wide selection of dictionaries including DWDS, LEO, PONS, TheFreeDictionary, Wikipedia for a deeper insight to meaning, translation, etymology, and usage.

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Yes and in addition I've found in wiktionary that when one perform a search for a verb like sprechen: de.wiktionary.org/wiki/sprechen It will list all the possible forms of the verb with different prefixes plus a really clear definition and examples so that the one can use the correct verb form in the correct context with no so much effort –  mborham Mar 9 at 8:43

Regarding the second question, you can go directly to Wiktionary, and type there

 http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/[Your prefix-]

(for instance, for über, type http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/über- and you'll find out, it's both trennbar and untrennbar, as you already know from your example.)

As you already realized, a direct search for the verb gives also a list in Wiktionary. It's also interesting the search in dict.cc, where you can type [Your prefix*] or [*your sufix / root verb]

Example:

  1. Say you are interested in all verbs with prefix miss. You just type

    http://www.dict.cc/?s=miss*
    That renders too much noise. But you know verbs end in -en, so you better search

    http://www.dict.cc/?s=miss*en (as everybody knows, * stands for anything)

  2. You are interested in the verbs having the form [Prefix]-sprechen. You just invert the search:

    http://www.dict.cc/?s=*sprechen
    or to perform a more restrictive search for, say, a 3-letters prefix, your input would be http://www.dict.cc/?s=???sprechen

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Regarding meanings of Prefixes, I found following German Verb Prefixes - Part 1: Inseparable Prefixes and German Verb Prefixes - Part 2: Separable Verb Prefixes

Hope this is helpful to you in the quest of understanding prefixes.

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When you look up "suchen" in DWDS, Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, you will find all verbs with prefix+suchen.

DWDS

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