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?


6 Answers 6


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.

  • 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
    Commented Mar 9, 2014 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

  • 1
    I tried your wild card search for prefixes of ?s=*sprechen and it didn't work. Some German speakers don't seem to get how very useful it would be for foreigners to have a dictionary where all the prefixed forms were listed under the main entry of a verb. I for one would much prefer the dictionaries to be organized that way. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 14:22
  • @MartyGreen What exactly doesn't work?
    – c.p.
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:22
  • Okay, i see how it works now. And I see why they can't organize dictionaries that way...because there are dozens of mostly-obscure prefix forms for virtually any verb. I just want the critical half-dozen forms shown together so I can compare the nuances. That would be useful. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:36

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.


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



There is the German Root Lexicon by Howard H. Wahrig, Gerhard. Keller.

It is, however, presently not available and a simple listing rather than a dictionary.


If you are looking for a list of verbs that contains a certain verb (e.g. suchen) that is easier to copy into a table then try this


I copy pasted into the following table / sheet to format for use with Anki, additionally there are quick links to Dictionaries (Pons) but that can be swapped out for any web dictionary where you can place your desired word in the URL


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