An der großen Kreuzung biegen Sie dann nach rechts ab.

In this sentence, what does the ab mean? I don't think it is meant to split off.

Oh by the way, while we're at it, what is nach there for as well? I know nach can mean turn, but I thought biegen was there for that?

  • 2
    Siehe auch: german.stackexchange.com/questions/28612/… which elaborates quite a bit on abbiegen. Might even be a duplicate
    – tofro
    Jun 21, 2016 at 6:12
  • 1
    These are two unrelated questions. One is asking for a preposition, the other is about a separable verb. Besides, a basic German textbook should cover both questions.
    – Em1
    Jun 21, 2016 at 7:01
  • Oh goddamnit. A close-worthy question in the HNQ!
    – Jan
    Jun 21, 2016 at 19:30
  • Thanks Em1 for that. I'm not sure about the "put on hold' box though. After all, it is a grammar related question
    – swaffi
    Jun 22, 2016 at 7:40
  • @swaffi The [on hold] box means that your question is temporarily closed because we do not see it as a good fit for the site. Compare help center. Please read the notice behind the bullet point. If you feel that your question would still be a good fit for the site, you are invited to edit accordingly — in this case why a grammar book didn’t help you.
    – Jan
    Jun 22, 2016 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


"Ab" is a part of verb "abbiegen". It's a separable verb therefore "ab" is in the end of the sentence.

"Nach" never means "turn". It means (in this case) "to" (in other cases "nach" can mean f.e. "after"). Your confusion might be based on the expression like "nach links" which you understand as "turn to the left", but the correct translation would be just "to the left".

  • Yes Alex, you hit the nail on the head with that one. Thank you
    – swaffi
    Jun 22, 2016 at 7:36

The word abbiegen basically consists of two parts: The prefix ab- and the root biegen.
There are a lot of words in German with prefixes like that. For example:

  • abhören (to tap)
  • abarbeiten (to work off)
  • abschießen (to shoot down)

In English you would say "Shoot them down!" or "Work it off.". So you do in German: "Schießt sie ab!" or "Arbeitet es ab.".

But sometimes a verb loses this extra bit, but not very often.
To remove has no extra bit, but to take off has; thus being closer to one possible translation: abnehmen.

  • I agree with @CarstenS and, hence, removed the word syllable from that answer altogether.
    – Em1
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:13
  • Upvoted now, even though I am not sure if “work off” exists.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:19

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