There are names in German for separable prefixes (trennbare Präfixe) and inseparable prefixes (nicht trennbare Präfixe). Prefixes that can be either separable or inseparable are descriptively called Präfixe, die sowohl trennbar als auch nicht trennbar sind.

Is there a term in German to describe a two-component separable prefix? One example of a verb with such a prefix is:

miteinbeziehen |bezog mit ein / miteinbezogen|

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    Interesting question. I wasn't even aware, that such multi-prefix separable verbs exists. Nov 26, 2016 at 21:51
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    There can't be many of them, can there? I am not aware of a special term for that (and, to be honest, like Hubert wasn't even aware of the phenomenon until now.)
    – Ingmar
    Nov 27, 2016 at 5:36
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    @tofro: »beinhalten« ist kein trennbares Verb (gilt auch für einige andere deiner Beispiele). Zukunft: »Ich werde das morgen mitansehen. Das Glas wird morgen Wasser beinhalten.« Vergangenheit: »Ich sah das gestern mit an. Das Glas hielt gestern Wasser be in???« Wohl eher: »Das Glas beinhaltete gestern Wasser.« Nov 27, 2016 at 9:11
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    @HubertSchölnast Danke - nicht richtig gelesen...
    – tofro
    Nov 27, 2016 at 9:30
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    Are there any other extra prefixes that behave like this other than 'mit'? The phenomenon might not have a name. Nov 27, 2016 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


To answer your question of the headline first: You are searching for the German word Doppelpartikelverben (in English, you could use double phrasal verbs or double particle verbs, but as they don’t exist in the English language, there is no official term).

Some precision to your question (and this answer)

Your explanation and comparison of prefixes is only half correct as you assume that all syllables before the verb are prefixes, but some of them are called particles (in German Partikel).

Prefixes are non-dividable and aren’t words for themselves (as a big difference to particles; e.g. be-, ver-). Linguists assume that they originate from prepositions.

Particles are words, which are also real German words for themselves (e.g. über, durch, which can also be prepositions and adverbs; über is is in addition to this adjective).

Inseparable prefixes

What you called inseparable prefixes can be prefixes in the narrower sense (Präfixverben or prefix verbs) as a verb with a prefix. But they can also be verbs with a particle in front of the verb (Partikelpräfixverben; in English, I would suggest particle-prefix verbs). The particle of the latter ones are treated as a prefixes (complicated, huh?).

Both compound verbs have their phonetical accent on the verb itself (and not the particle/prefix).

Separable prefixes

They are called phrasal or particle verbs (Partikelverben in German) and have a particle in front of the verb.

If the word has two particles, then it's called Doppelpartikelverb. You can’t find words with more than two particles in the German language. But not all these verbs are separated into three single words in the verb second word order. (Maybe, this is historical, because people are lazy and forgot the space between the two particles over the decades, but this is a blind guess.)

The phonetical accent is on the particle (the second, if you have two).

Prefixes that can be either separable or inseparable

This is a help for people learning German, as these verbs are either particle-prefix verbs (the separable) or phrasal verbs (the inseparable).

How to decide, which one it is?

You can distinguish between a prefix and a particle by considering whether the prefix/particle can be a word itself. A particle can; a prefix cannot. If you’re not certain, you could use some (incomplete) lists (e.g. the German Wikipedia’s one).

To distinguish between a particle-prefix and a phrasal verb, you can test the morphological separability (morphologische Trennbarkeit):

  • Try to build the infinitive with zu. If it is possible within the verb (like in Sie hat vor, aufzustehen), then it's a particle verb. If not (like in Sie hat vor, überzustehen), then it's a particle-prefix verb.

  • Or you can build the past participle (Partizip II): If the syllable ge is possible within the verb (like in aufgestanden), then it's a particle verb, else (maybe) not.
    In some odd cases, this can only be a positive check, cause when it’s not possible (like in your example miteinbezogen). Then you have to rely on the other test.

If you have a good feeling for German language or have a German native speaker available, you can go by accent when pronouncing the word (or upon the context).

The University of Leipzig has a neat and short summary with lots of examples and some tests; unfortunately, in German.


Apparently, I have no English sources, as this construct doesn’t exist in the English language.


As far as I am aware there is no such thing as you are describing. @biolauri suggested the term Doppelpartikelverb, but it is actually a term originating from the field of Morphologie, which isn't applicable.

Partikelverb: syntactically seperable; verb elements for a verbal "bracket", where the left sentence bracket is occupied by the finite verb stem and the right sentence bracket is occupied by the particle. zu in the infinitive form is word-internal, as is ge- in participle form.


  • umgefahren, "Er fährt ihn um."

  • heimgehen, "Er geht heim."

This looks like what your supposed "two-component seperable prefix" indicates.

Doppelpartikelverb: Behaves like a Partikelverb, but has a "double particle" (not two particles).


  • hineingehen (hin+ein+gehen), "Er geht in das Geschäft hinein."

  • hinterherfahren (hinter+her+fahren), "Wir fahren ihr hinterher."

On first glance you think this would be a representation of what you're looking for, but in (nearly) all cases, this double-particle is non-seperable. In fact, your mentioned example formed with mit is the only example I have ever seen, where the double-particle (I am not even sure that it is or isn't a double-particle) is seperated.

It very well may be, that when a particle is formed with "mit" there is a special rule that the seperated particle is seperated between the two components. I can not find a rule for this, but it's a very specific case, so that may not mean anything.

All in all I have to agree with @Janka in that the category you envision isn't defined and there is likely only an implicit rule for it. Additionally, his/her description of the difference between inseperable prefixes and particles is sound.

An additional comment regarding the morphological seperability check that @biolauri suggests:

Don't try to check for the applicability of ge- in the past participle. Rather check for strong, mixed or weak verb, (check how often the stem vowel changes), which is a better indicator for morphological seperability, albeit also not without exception.


The categories are about the prefixes, not about the words having those prefixes.

The difference between inseparable prefixes and separable ones is fundamental. Inseparable prefixes like be-, ent-, ver- and zer- aren't words —not even particles—, while separable are.

There are even mixed words, e.g.

(sich) vorbereiten → Sie bereitete sich vor.

vorverlegen → Man verlegte die Prüfung vor.

So, no, there isn't a special category needed for words with more than one prefix.

Note there is a small category of inseparable prefixes which are words. Most prominent examples are über und unter.

überweisen → Die Ärztin überwies ihn ins Krankenhaus.

unterweisen → Sie unterwies ihn.

unternehmen → Er unternahm etwas.

unterstellen → Sie unterstellte ihm eine Affäre.


unterstellen → Er stellte sein Fahrrad unter.

unter can be both, separable and inseparable. Note the stress for the inseparable prefixed word is different from the separable prefixed one.

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    Ich kann nicht erkennen, wo du auf jene Wörter eingehst, die zwei Silben/Wörter abspalten wenn sie geteilt werden. z.B. mitansehen. Zukunft: »Ich werde das morgen mitansehen.« Vergangenheit: »Ich sah das gestern mit an.« Der Fragesteller bezog sich ja nicht allgemein auf Verben mit zwei Vorsilben, sondern auf trennbare Verben, bei beim Trennen gleich zwei Silben abspalten. Nov 27, 2016 at 9:17
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    Im ersten Beispiel spaltet das Verb nur ein Wort ab. Fiele es tatsächlich in die Menge jener Verben, nach denen der OP gefragt hat, sähe dein Beispiel so aus: »(sich) vorbereiten → Sie ritt sich vor be.« Das ist aber natürlich falsch. Vergleiche mit: »(etwas) mitansehen → Sie sah etwas mit an.« Der OP hat nach genau solchen Beispielen gefragt, diese werden in deiner Antwort aber nicht thematisiert. Nov 27, 2016 at 10:00
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    Die Frage bezieht sich auch ausdrücklich auf »Two-component separable prefixes«, Also auf »zweiteilige abspaltbare Präfixe«. Nicht auf »Trennbare Verben mit zwei Präfixen.« Der Unterschied: In einem Fall (nämlich dem, nach dem gefragt wird) müssen beide Silben/Wörter abspaltbar sein, im anderem Fall (nämlich dem, auf den du eingegangen bist) ist das aber nicht notwendig. Nov 27, 2016 at 10:42
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    @Janka As the person who asked the question, I'd like to support Hubert Schölnast in this discussion. Your answer does not address "two-component separable prefixes", an example of which would be "bezog mit ein". Nov 27, 2016 at 12:50
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    @Janka: 'There isn't such thing as a "two-component separable prefix" as there isn't such thing as a "two-component prefix" already.' - the example from the question, miteinbeziehen, would seem to prove this statement wrong. You may claim that you know no name for this particular kind of verbs, but the claim that it does not exist is simply not true. Nov 28, 2016 at 19:37

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