This sentence is taken from a Grammar book.

I understand that "ausziehen" is ein "Trennbare Verb" and "aus" should be placed at the end of the sentence, and it means "to move out".

DeepL translates both sentences with and without the first "aus" as "We are moving out of the apartment."

So why is the first "aus" needed? I.e. is it correct to say... "Wir ziehen der Wohnung aus." rather than "Wir ziehen aus der Wohnung aus?"

Or has the grammar book made a typo error?


  • 8
    Just a note regarding your use of machine translation tools: They cannot be used to identify incorrect sentences, since they will translate anything. For instance, the completely incorrect and/or nonsensical ich habe meine Wohnung ausgezogen is translated without any indication as I moved out of my appartment.
    – David Vogt
    Sep 3, 2021 at 10:01
  • 5
    You will for sure receive meter long answers from native Germans, but I would just say that it is equal to out of in the translated sentence We are moving out of the apartment. The second aus is a part of the composite verb.
    – Andra
    Sep 3, 2021 at 11:59
  • 2
    @Andra, that could (and should) be an answer.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 3, 2021 at 13:40
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    Ich habe meine Wohnung ausgezogen literally means I undressed my apartment btw.
    – RHa
    Sep 3, 2021 at 19:59
  • 1
    Contrast "Wir schauen die Wohnung an". Here the Wohnung is the direct object of the transitive verb anschauen, so no extra preposition is needed. Ausziehen (in the sense of moving out, as distinct from undressing) is an intransitive verb, so it can't take a direct object: the preposition is therefore needed. Sep 4, 2021 at 20:53

5 Answers 5


The latter "aus" is, as you correctly recognized, part of the verb "ausziehen". The former "aus" is a preposition that denotes what the speakers are moving out of. Let's break down the sentence:

Wir ziehen aus.

We move out.

This sentene doesn't specify what the speakers are moving out of. If we want to add this information, the part of the sentence would be

... aus der Wohnung ...

... out of the appartment ...

So, the sentence as a whole is

Wir ziehen aus der Wohnung aus.

We move (out) out of the appartment.

If we use the same construction with a verb that doesn't contain "aus", we could say

Wir tragen die Koffer aus der Wohnung.

We carry the suitcases out of the appartment.

Regarding "wir ziehen der Wohnung aus", this would be understood as to refer to another meaning of "ausziehen", being "to take off clothes". So this would be read as something like "Wir ziehen der Wohnung den Pullover aus", which doesn't make too much sense ;)

  • 3
    Excellent answer. "Wir ziehen der Wohnung aus" really isn't a complete German sentence in the first place. It does make grammatical sense with the addition of "den Pullover". Sep 5, 2021 at 15:02
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    Unless the writer wanted to convey some metaphorical idea of stripping the house off...
    – Spencer
    Sep 5, 2021 at 17:25
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    @Spencer But this would need to be "Wir ziehen die Wohnung aus", wouldn't it? I've heard people described as houses in songs, but describing somebody as an appartment (so that the "appartment" can put on or off clothes) would be a new one to me ;) Sep 5, 2021 at 19:22
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    @Spencer That would need accusative as well, or am I mistaken? "Ich ziehe den Pullover aus" -> "Ich ziehe die Wohnung aus". But the idea is intriguing, from a storytelling / metaphorical perspective. Sep 5, 2021 at 19:44
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    @HenningKockerbeck You can use that phrase to mean ‘we are stripping the house (of all furnishings)’. In that case “Wir ziehen der Wohnung aus “ makes sort of sense.
    – Tonny
    Sep 6, 2021 at 16:25

In this case the first "aus" is related to "Wohnung", as it declares where you want to move out, while the second "aus" is related to "ziehen". "ausziehen" is the verb, but conjugated with "wir" it is "Wir ziehen aus" (we move out), not "Wir ausziehen".

So the first "aus" from "Wir ziehen aus der Wohnung aus." is related to "We are moving out of our appartment."

Hope this help´s you to understand :)

  • 1
    Indeed. As further illustration, one could note that depending on the region, it might also be acceptable to say "Wir ziehen von der Wohnung aus." - which makes it even clearer that that particular word is used in the same way as "of" in English.
    – AndyO
    Sep 5, 2021 at 15:31

Perhaps the easiest way for a for an English speaker to get a handle on this is to compare it with an English particle verb, which work similarly to German separable verbs. You can say "I handed my homework in." Here, "hand in" acts as a transitive verb. If you then want to add information about where the "handing in" was done, you have to use a preposition such as "in class". When you put these together you get "I handed my homework in in class." This has a repeated preposition "in" but is grammatical English. Leaving out one of the "in's" gives "I handed my homework in class," which sounds wrong to an English speaker because it's not grammatically correct; "class" has no preposition to connect it with the rest of the sentence. In the same way, Wir ziehen der Wohnung aus. is grammatically incorrect in German.

English is a bit squeamish about using repeated words like this, and a style guide or grammar checker might suggest rephrasing a sentence to avoid them. But they are more common in German. My favorite example is the parting phrase Pass auf dich auf! which is equivalent to the English "Take care of yourself!"

  • 2
    I think with repeated words or sounds in English it can also depend on exactly where you are, like I would never say ''It is ready already'' for reasons you mention, but people in the Bronx would say that all the time.
    – Tom
    Sep 3, 2021 at 20:37
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    @Tom: Good point. People generally don't take the time to craft stylistically perfect sentences in spontaneous spoken language of any variety. So all kinds of things can happen, especially when you throw in regional accents.
    – RDBury
    Sep 4, 2021 at 0:59
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    Also, Komm mit mir mit.
    – TonyK
    Sep 5, 2021 at 11:49
  • In English, there are also some ''repetitions'' which are used a lot as well, ''let's see what we can see''. In Spanish, you can say ''quedamos en quedar'' (we agree to meet).
    – Tom
    Sep 6, 2021 at 23:05

The German construct is not really different from the English one, it is just that ausziehen requires a different preposition.

In English, to move out of is a "phrasal-propositional verb". The core is to move out, a phrasal verb. It is a verb that assumes a new, often metaphorical meaning when it is combined with a particle: To break down, to put off, and to move out. German, in its characteristic fashion, makes a compound word of phrasal verbs: zusammenbrechen, abweisen, and, finally, ausziehen.

Additionally, to move out requires a preposition — that's the "prepositional" part —, namely of: To move out of something/somewhere. The German ausziehen simply requires a different preposition, that's all: Aus [etwas] ausziehen. The duplicated aus may seem weird until we remember similar constructs in English: To instill reason in him, to invest in stock.

The languages are often remarkably similar.


So why is the first "aus" needed?

Like the other answers noted, the preposition is necessary to denote the object. There is also "ausziehen" without a preposition, but that uses the object in accusative case, and has a different meaning: "Wir ziehen den Pullover aus" - "We take off the pullover". It doesn't make sense to use this form for an apartment ("Wir ziehen die Wohnung aus.") :-)

I.e. is it correct to say... "Wir ziehen der Wohnung aus."

No. That would be as incorrect as the English "We move out the apartment".

However, you can omit the second "aus":

"Wir ziehen aus der Wohnung (aus)."

- "We move (out) from the apartment." / "We move (out) out of the apartment."

In this case the verb "ziehen" is understood as a short form for "umziehen", although it also has the meaning of being part of a procession ("umherziehen", for which I don't know a direct translation). You'd more customarily say something like

"Wir ziehen aus der Wohnung in eine andere (um)."

- "We move from the apartment into another."

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