I was given the following particle in phrasal verbs said to be separables:

ab-, an-, auf-, aus-, bei-, ein-, fest-, her-, herein-, hin-, los-, mit-, nach-, vor-, weg-, weiter-, zu-, zurück-, zusammen-,

and depending on the meaning of the word:

durch-, über-, um-, unter-, voll-, wider-, wieder-,

but is this list exhaustive?

For instance, what about fernsehen?

Ich sehe die television fern

Shouldn't it be also in the list?

I looked throughouly at this question, but it didn't wholly answered my question as far as mine is about the particles that generate separable verbs rather than a list of separable verbs which, I know would be too braod and too long. My purpose is to systematize my learning of verbs: I want to know, when I have a verb, in which cases can I separate it from its particle.

  • 2
    Your sentence is not correct. It should be Ich sehe fern as fernsehen already includes the notion of Television. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 7:24
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of List of separable verbs (Infinitiv+Verb)
    – chirlu
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 7:32
  • 1
    Fern- shouldn't be in the list because it is used only in fernsehen (and maybe in a couple of other very rarely used or artificially constructed words).
    – Eller
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 7:35
  • 1
    Equivalent link for the separable verbs: canoo.net/services/…
    – chirlu
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 7:36
  • 1
    @tofro Are you sure that fernsehen is built from Fernseher and sehen? I would say the opposite - that Fernseher" derives from _fernsehen.
    – Eller
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


I don't think that you should really try to build an exhaustive list of particle verbs and their particles. My grammar lexicon (DUDEN, Die Grammatik, 2005) has 10 pages for particle verbs alone.

Here is a list of possible particles/prefixes as I found it in that dictionary (Rule 1062):

  1. ab, an, auf, aus, bei, durch, hinter, mit, nach über, um, unter, vor, wider, zu; ein (entspricht der Präposition in)
  2. her, hin, herunter, hinunter, dahin
  3. fest, frei, hoch
  4. preis- in preisgeben, stand- in standhalten, teil- in teilhaben, teilnehmen

(1) prepositional, (2) adverbial, (3) adjectival, (4) substantival

This list is already really long, but it is explicitly marked as exemplary and indeed, there are many, many more (e.g. entgegen, entlang, gegen [1]; fort, heim [2]; fern, glatt [3]; stand, wett [4]).

To make things more confusing, there is a distinction between particle and prefix verbs. Particle verbs can be separated, prefix verbs cannot.

For instance, durchstreifen is a prefix verb, but durchtragen ist a particle verb. durchlaufen is both a particle and prefix verb and has a slightly different meaning depending on what it actually is. Another example is überprüfen (prefix verb), überwechseln (particle verb) and übergehen (both prefix and particle verb).

So from the prefix alone you can't tell if you can separate a word or not. A better way to tell if a verb is separable is the stress. Prefix verbs are stressed on the verb part, particle verbs are stressed on the particle.

Using the verbs from above, this would be durch'streifen for the prefix verb and 'durchtragen for the particle verb. durchlaufen can be either stressed as durch'laufen (then it is a prefix verb and means to go or run through something, e.g. a gamut) or 'durchlaufen (then it is a particle verb and means to wear something out by walking with or over it, e.g. shoes).

Prefixes, that can come in front of prefix verbs (but are also particles) are durch, über, um, unter, hinter and wider. The rest build particle verbs, but as I said already, the list goes on and on.

  • Okay, this is scary but it answers my question. I touhght german would have been a bit more "user friendly"... I will let it open until tomorrow and then accept your answer. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 18:29
  • I don't think I'd ever be able to memorize all particle verbs as a foreign language learner. I guess your best bet is to just learn the most import ones and leave the rest to practice and gut feeling. At least that's how I do it, but German is my first language, so not too surprising. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 19:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.