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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


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 '14 at 9:23
ändern, verändern –  mb2015 Mar 8 '14 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:

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

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  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 –  mb2015 Mar 9 '14 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]


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

    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:

    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.


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