Compare this pair:

finden - strong conjugation

empfinden - strong conjugation [exactly the same]

With this pair:

fehlen - weak conjugation

empfehlen - strong conjugation [different]

The "finden/empfinden" situation (ie, where some_verb and prefix+some_verb have the exact same conjugation) is the normal one, right?

Are there any other some_verb's that have the "fehlen/empfehlen" situation instead? (ie, where some_verb and prefix+some_verb conjugate differently?)

[There's befehlen, of course, which conjugates exactly the same as "empfehlen", but that's still with some_verb = "fehlen".

So I guess you could say that I'm looking for cases where:

(some_verb).conjugation != (prefix + some_verb).conjugation


some_verb != "fehlen"

[edit: also cases where

(some_prefix + some_verb).conjugation != (different_prefix + some_verb).conjugation ] ]

More examples that are at least kinda the same as the pattern I'm looking for (from chirlu's answer):

einweichen weak

weichen, zurückweichen strong

beringen weak

ringen, erringen strong

schallen, beschallen can both be either strong or weak

schaffen can be strong or weak, depending...

(If it means "create", it's strong.

If it means "finish", it's weak.")

abschaffen weak

erschaffen strong

  • There's even a word "some_verb" = "some_verb" where "some_verb".conjugation != "some_verb".conjugation. The difference is its meaning. Unfortunately, I can't come up with this word off the top of my head.
    – Em1
    May 16, 2013 at 5:20
  • 3
    well, befehlen and empfehlen are not really ... let me call it "related" to fehlen. that are not really prefixes. no, they are no prefixes at all :) thats why they conjugate differently. here are some prefixes. using these will keep the conugation the same (like the root word) May 16, 2013 at 5:41
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    How are "be" and "emp" no prefixes? The second line of your own source calls "ver" a prefix.... case in point. They definitely are prefixes. @ Em: try "schaffen"... you'll find what you seek :)
    – Emanuel
    May 16, 2013 at 10:58
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    @Thorsten Dittmar, you example of "be-...", you should maybe read what the site said: "Einige Wortbestandteile sehen zwar aus wie Präfixe, sie sind jedoch nicht mehr als Präfixe anzusehen (z.B. beschäftigen, bestätigen, vergeuden), weil der Stamm ohne Präfix nicht frei im Satz verwendet werden kann." which just means that not EVERY be+XXXX is a prefix. this does not mean that "be-..." is not a prefix. if you would have read the site you would have noticed, that "be-..." is mentured as prefix in the table shown. May 17, 2013 at 7:24
  • @user1451340 I read the site, but obviously I scrolled over be-. Still, you yourself said in your comment that the be- in befehlen and emp- in empfehlen are not prefixes. May 17, 2013 at 7:29

2 Answers 2


fehlen and empfehlen do not derive from the same base (fehlen).

The verb fehlen derives from the old form vælen or vēlen, which means to miss (a target). Empfehlen on the other hand derives from the verb fel(a)han, which means to sow or to entrust.

finden and empfinden do derive from finden, that's why they share the same conjugation.

  • Thanks, that etymological explanation for why the "fehlen/empfehlen" situation exists is good to know... but it isn't an answer to the question, see? The question is: does the same situation occur with any other some_verbs than "fehlen"? (For our purposes here, some_verb is defined as a string of letters, regardless of etymology, so the "fehlen" in "fehlen", "empfehlen", and "befehlen" is the "same".)
    – Owen_AR
    May 16, 2013 at 21:23
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    What I'm telling you is that your assumption is wrong in the first place! fehlen/empfehlen is not at all a "[prefix + verb] conjugates differently than [verb]" case, as empfehlen != prefix + fehlen! May 17, 2013 at 7:13
  • From the point of view of synchronic analysis, they do belong together.
    – chirlu
    May 17, 2013 at 7:19
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    Well, that's like comparing sein in krank sein with the sein in sein Auto. They are different words. Wondering why you can not say empfehlte would be like wondering why you can not say krank unser. (I know that here I'm providing different word types, but you get the analogy). May 17, 2013 at 7:34
  • The Verb class is separate from the Pronoun class, so that kinda synonym won't be an issue in my code... I totally get your point, it's just that basically the reason I'm asking is that I need to handle the fact that "empfehlen" != prefix + "fehlen" somehow or other, as it "looks like" an exception to a general rule that prefix+some_verb conjugates the same as some_verb by itself... So I need to know some more examples of that kind of exception so I can figure out how they work, see if there are any subtypes I'll need to handle etc...
    – Owen_AR
    May 17, 2013 at 14:30

There are more examples, but they are of the same type (etymologically unrelated, as Thorsten Dittmar explained for fehlen/empfehlen):

  • (zurück)weichen (ich wich (zurück)) vs. einweichen (ich weichte ein)
  • (er)ringen (ich (er)rang) vs. beringen (ich beringte)
  • (er)schallen (es (er)scholl) vs. beschallen (ich beschallte)

There are also verbs that follow different conjugations depending on their meaning, such as schaffen. Both forms can get prefixes: erschaffen (ich erschuf) vs. abschaffen (ich schaffte ab).

  • According to DWDS, the past form of erschallen is erschallte, so that doesn't fit here. Also (to be as strict as the OP wants to), none of your examples answers the question, which is for [prefix] + [verb] != [verb] and not [prefix a] + [verb] != [prefix b] + [verb]. May 17, 2013 at 7:31
  • @ThorstenDittmar (be)-ringen and (ein)-weichen are two excellent examples. What's the problem with these?
    – Em1
    May 17, 2013 at 7:50
  • Schallen is both strong and weak. Example: Lautstark scholl es über die Brücke, die Falun Gong Anhänger schwiegen zunächst konzentriert wie in einer Meditation.
    – Em1
    May 17, 2013 at 7:51
  • Yes, (be-)ringen and (ein-)weichen are two good examples, but as the answer is worded he's comparing zurückweichen to einweichen and erringen to beringen, which is not what the OP is asking for. However, beringen vs. ringen and einweichen vs. weichen would be good examples. May 17, 2013 at 7:54
  • 2
    @Em1 As Schallen is both strong and weak, it's a Schroedinger Example, right? It's both good and bad :-D May 17, 2013 at 7:55

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