In Collin's dictionary, when I search for Rad fahren, it comes up with: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/german-english/radfahren

However, radfahren is not on http://de.wiktionary.org . They said that reforms changed the verb radfahren to Rad fahren. Then why is another famous dictionary not using that information?

Furthermore, I am being very confused about the role of the other word "Rad". Does it matter where it is in the sentence? Is it a separable prefix?

Although this answer is on the site: Spelling of noun-verb compounds , I did not feel that it specifically answers my question, nor that it confronts the issues in my question.

Thanks in advance

1 Answer 1


Then why is another famous dictionary not using that information?

Well, to be sure you probably need to ask Collin's.

They just might have not updated the entry. Or they left it there for users who found the word in pre-reform texts. I didn't find the word in the English-to-German section. In particular, on http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-german/bicycle they translate correctly "Fahrrad fahren". So everything seems ok for users who look for translations. Deciding corner cases in spelling just might not be in their focus.

Is "Rad" a separable prefix?

I don't think so. It is just a direct object. I think this was the reason why the spelling of the verb was changed in the reform. When making a sentence with "Rad fahren" and playing with the word order, you can move "Rad" as freely as any other direct object. You wouldn't have the same freedom with the prefix of a separable verb.

  • Great and detailed answer, but I'm open to any others.
    – Turbo
    Nov 19, 2014 at 23:45
  • Carefull... it is not exactly the direct object. Why not? 1) The past is "bin rad gefahren" which is a very strong indicator for the verb being intransitive. 2) In the passive sentence "Rad wird von mir gefahren" "Rad" is much more like adverb. Compare "Mein Auto wird von mir gefahren" and "Zu Fuß wird von mir gegangen." 3) The fact that is doesn't have an article although it is countable suggests that it is not seen as a full noun. Also, I do have some degree of freedom with separable prefixes, too. "Aus mache ich das Licht", "Rad bin ich gefahren"
    – Emanuel
    Nov 20, 2014 at 9:44
  • @Emanuel I don't understand 1). "Ich bin Rad gefahren.", "Ich habe den Brief geschrieben.", "Ich habe Frankreich besucht." - I dont' see any difference. Concerning word order: I think you are right in general. I had some example in mind where it sounded really strange, but I do not remember what it was. Mabye it was a verb that exists both as separable and inseparable version - setting the prefix in the_Vorfeld_ would not work well then.
    – Matthias
    Nov 20, 2014 at 10:39
  • @Matthias... I think that there was something in the Grammatik Duden with regards to these objects but I don't have the time to read up just now. The thing about 1) is that the past is built with "ist", not "habe". That means that there is NOT a direct object, and a movement. If you say that it is a direct object you'll have to explain why it is "Ich habe ein Rad gefahren" but "Ich bin Rad gefahren" and that will be very difficult, I imagine. As for the prefixes and word order...
    – Emanuel
    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:00
  • ... you also have a point in that prefixes are not as flexible as direct objects. Ich habe gestern nach dem Essen aus das Licht gemacht. The "Rad" is somewhere in between a prefix and a fully fleshed object. "Ich bin gestern Rad im Park gefahren." It sounds very strange to my ears but not wrong yet.
    – Emanuel
    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:03

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