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When you want to say "I agree", why do you say "Ich stimme zu" instead of just "Ich stimme"? What part of speech is zu? What does it mean here? Is it more common to say "Ich stimme zu" instead of just "Ich stimme"?

I did look up this word on Wiktionary, and found that it is most likely an adverb in this context. But it is hard for me to determine the meaning of this word. Does it mean "too"? That is my best guess... But I still don't see how it fits in with the sentence.

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Welcome to the vast world of German's separable verbs!

You have two different verbs here:

Ich stimme. — stimmen: to vote, to tune; es stimmt: it's true

and

Ich stimme zu. – zustimmen: to agree

There's also abstimmen, anstimmen, durchstimmen, einstimmen, nachstimmen, überstimmen, umstimmen, all different verbs of their own. (And then there's also the verbs bestimmen and verstimmen with their inseparable prefixes.)

ADDITION: This is very similar to English phrasal verbs, e.g. to turn off.

Turn it off. – to turn off

Schalt es ab. – abschalten

and some English adjectives

to stand out → outstanding

  • I beg your pardon? – Janka Oct 5 '18 at 22:04
  • Probably overlooked that due to terse (or missing) explanation. The tuning topic can probably not be considered as base for zustimmen. – guidot Oct 7 '18 at 21:17
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What part of speech is zu? What does it mean here? Is it more common to say "Ich stimme zu" instead of just "Ich stimme"?

The infinitive of "to agree" in German is "zustimmen". I have never heard anyone saying "Ich stimme" and it would very likely lead to miscommunication, as "stimmen" can have other meanings in German, for example:

  • To be right - Deine Lösung stimmt (Your solution is right/correct)
  • To pitch an instrument - Ich stimme das Klavier (I am pitching the piano)

Sadly, I don't know if there is a term for the inversion of "zustimmen" to "Ich Stimme zu"

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    The term you're looking for is separable verb and the inversion act is separating it. – tofro Sep 12 '17 at 6:37
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These types of constructions are a grammatic feature of German, which has been inherited by English. In English at least, they are called "phrasal verbs". ESL speakers need to learn long lists of them. There are so many examples, it's hard to choose one (and the best involve swear words). But think about the English verb "to give". If I "give out", does this mean the same as if I "give in"? Grammatically speaking "out" and "in" here are not prepositions or adverbs, they are actually part of the verb itself, conveying different meaning. The same is true in German. You need to learn the verb "zustimmen"; and understand when and how the prefix splits off. But it's complicated: in some cases, usually with the prefixes "ent" and "be", the verbs are not separable, which can be confusing.

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