On the book Emil und die Detektive, by Erich Kästner, I found the following

Da hielt die Straßenbahn zum ersten Mal. Es stieg niemand aus. Es drängten nur viele neue Fahrgäste in die Bahn. Auch an Emil vorbei. Ein Herr schimpfte, weil der Junge im Wege war.

Okay. I understood that people entered in the train pushing each other because it was crowded. So I guess the sentence Auch an Emil vorbei means that they also pushed Emil.

But the meaning of vorbei is "over", "finished", right? So that sentence seems very strange to me.

Can someone explain what Auch an Emil vorbei means there?

2 Answers 2


The phrase an … vorbei means passing …. That's also the reason for the other meaning of vorbei. Once you have passed the obstacle, you are over it.

Sie drängten sich an Emil vorbei.

Sie drängten sich an Emil vorbei.

You may also see this as a prefixed verb vorbeidrängen – to push past someone/something.

  • You are refering of course to "Ist der Fest-Umzug hier schon vorbei?", or rather "vorbei gekommen". I'm unsure whether vorbei had to be prepositional or how to lex bei. Can we compare probieren, to probe, either, respectively, "vormachen, vorführen, examinieren", or rather "investigate" (to split of, head forwards)?
    – vectory
    Jul 3, 2019 at 20:45
  • Vorbei isn't a preposition but an adverb. Or a prefix.
    – Janka
    Jul 3, 2019 at 20:47
  • Sie drängten sich vor Erik. Sie drängten sich vor Bayern Erik ... vorbei an Erik meine ich natürlich. Prepositions are mostly adverbial, aren't they? How it is not an adposition is exactly my question.
    – vectory
    Jul 3, 2019 at 20:51
  • You cannot say Sie drängten sich vorbei Erik. The word vorbei works just the same as hinunter et al.
    – Janka
    Jul 3, 2019 at 20:57

As we learn from the next sentence, Emil stood in the way (from the perspective of the others). Hence they had to make their push-y entrance in an even more confined space. They pushed past Emil

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