I came across the following sentence in Der Spiegel:

Seoul will die humanitäre Hilfe für das weithin abgeschottete und wirtschaftlich marode Land [North Korea] wiederaufnehmen.

According to dict.cc and die-konjugation.de, the preterit form of wiederaufnehmen is nahm wieder auf; according to Reverso Konjugation and verbformen.de, it's nahm wiederauf. The Duden does not list past tenses of the verb, while Canoo.net does not have an entry for wiederaufnehmen.

I realize it's highly unusual for a prefix to be split in two in preterit. However, there is at least one case of such a verb, mit­ein­be­zie­hen (in preterit: bezog mit ein), listed in the Duden. (I was even asking a question earlier about the proper way to call separable prefixes that are split in two)

So, what is the correct form: nahm wieder auf or nahm wiederauf?

  • The Duden does have an entry: duden.de/rechtschreibung/wieder_aufnehmen Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:33
  • @Björn Friedrich Thanks for the comment. I actually meant The Duden does not list past tenses of the verb, but mistakingly stated it doesn't have an entry for the verb. Corrected the question. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:45
  • 1
    Maybe you want to see wiederaufnehmen not as a verb with one prefix that splits into two, but rather a verb with two prefixes, you may also consider that both "wieder" and "auf" can work as stand-alone words.
    – tofro
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:48

3 Answers 3


Grammar rules are pretty specific on how composite verbs are conjugated and formed:

§34 Partikeln, Adjektive, Substantive oder Verben können als Verbzusatz mit Verben trennbare Zusammensetzungen bilden. Man schreibt sie nur in den Infinitiven, den Partizipien sowie im Nebensatz bei Endstellung des Verbs zusammen

There are quite a number of verbs that can have more than one prefix and the rule applies to all prefixes.

Note the preterite form differs with compound verbs when used in main clause and sub clause:

Seoul nahm die Hilfe wieder auf.


Seoul, das die Hilfe wiederaufnahm, verkündete das lautstark.


It has to be the former: nahm wieder auf.

The form "wieder" is a semi-productive prefix; it can attach to some verbs but not others, and it can be written with or without a space. But this capability applies only to the verbs themselves. It cannot be attached to a separable verb prefix (in fact, to the best of my knowledge nothing can be compounded with an isolated separable verb prefix at all).


The verb, wiederaufnehmen consists of the verb nehmen, with two separable prefixes.

When you invert the word order, you have to keep the prefixes separate. Therefore nahm wieder auf is correct.

You cannot combine the two prefixes together, apart from the verb.

In mathematical notation, the "association" is as follows: (nahm wieder) auf, not nahm (wieder auf).

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.