Diese Frage wurde hier auch (auf Deutsch) beantwortet:

I was doing some grammar exercises, one of which involved putting highlighted parts of a sentence at the beginning of the sentence in question, and making changes to the subsequent word order to ensure grammaticality. For instance, I was given:

Schwere Fragen waren in der Prüfung.

And in response, I wrote:

In der Prüfung waren schwere Fragen.

Now, most of these were very straightforward. However, I was unsure about the following:

Am Tag vor der Prüfung hatte die Professorin alles noch einmal zusammengefasst.

The bolded bit comes from the verb zusammenfassen, which is "to summarize", and which is separable. I was slightly confused, since this was a past-participle, and the past participle will always need to be in the final position. Thus, I wrote this down:

Zusammen hatte die Professorin am Tag vor der Prüfung alles noch eimal gefasst.

Is this correct? More generally: Are separable verbs to be broken up (even if they are originally in "unseparated" forms) if they are to be moved to the beginning of the sentence, so as to keep the "main" verb at the end? Or is the prefix generally not moved to the front of the sentence either?

1 Answer 1


First, it is rather unusual to move the verb or any part of it to the first position. You would only use this word order if you really wanted to stress the verb, such as when correcting a misunderstanding:

Nein, zusammengefasst hat sie alles, nicht für unwichtig erklärt!

In most cases where it is done, the whole verb is going to move, not just the prefix, as can be seen in my example sentence. A separable prefix by itself in the first position is not completely unheard of, but even more unusual. It could sometimes be used in colloquial language, though would be considered bad style in writing:

Auf sind sie gestiegen, nicht ab.

Poets also sometimes take their liberties:

Auf steigt der Strahl und fallend gießt
er voll der Marmorschale Rund ...

(Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Der römische Brunnen)

Note that in this case (present tense, hence no auxiliary), the whole verb could not be placed in first position because then the second position would be empty. You would need a helper verb to make it possible:

Aufsteigen tut der Strahl.

Again, this is sometimes used in colloquial language, but considered very bad style.

  • I was really close to wondering if the exercise was a trick question, but I'm using the book on my own and had no answer manual, and so was unable to check. This makes sense!
    – Maroon
    Jun 20, 2015 at 4:36
  • 1
    Aufsteigen tut der Strahl — I can hear my aunt saying ‘und tuten nicht vergessen!’ ;D
    – Jan
    Jun 20, 2015 at 12:20

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