Ein Polizist hält das Auto an.

Firstly, I didn't understand why there is "an".
My translation to this sentence is

A Policeman stops his car.

After I read this question below,
What is the meaning of 'an' in context “Tief in mir ist noch ein Feuer an”
I guess that "an" means "at somewhere". Like,

A Policeman stops his car on the road.

Is it right?

  • Note, that the German sentence (at least without further context) leaves open, whether the car stoppped is the one the policeman himself is driving (by pressing the brake) or another one (by showing his traffic paddle).
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 15:47
  • @guidot: Ich würde sagen nein. "Ein Polizist" deutet darauf hin, dass bislang nicht von einem Polizisten die Rede war. Wird der Polizist jetzt erst eingeführt, so dass es nicht "Der Polizist" heißen kann, dann wird es ein fremdes Auto sein, sonst wäre es wohl "hält sein Auto an". Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:47
  • "stops his car" lässt da überhaupt keine Mehrdeutigkeit zu: Er hält sein Auto an...
    – Tode
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 8:35
  • I’m with user unknown and Torsten here: Your translation is incorrect. There would have had to have been a sein in the German sentence for your translation to work (‘Der Polizist hält sein Auto an’). Instead, you should have attempted a translation as ‘A policeman stops the car.’
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


The verb in the German sentence is anhalten, a so called phrasal verb composed of the preposition an and the actual phrasal verb halten. If the verb gets reordered in the sentence the prepositional prefix an gets separated from the verb.

So an in your particular sentence has no meaning but being a part of the verb anhalten.

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