So I'm currently studying the basics of verbs in German. I'm aware of the so called "Trennbare Verben" (separable verbs) in German and how they're the closest to an equivalent of phrasal verbs in English. However, there also exist the so called "Partikelverben" which are basically combined with other parts of speech to form phrases. The latter may include, among other, prepositional phrases. So, I've stumbled upon the following sentence:"Fahren Sie mit der U-Bahn?". Here, as per my understanding, mit is not a separable prefix but rather part of the "mit der U-Bahn" prepositional phrase. My question is would the following sentence with a separable verb convey the same meaning- "Fahren Sie der U-Bahn mit?"

2 Answers 2


So what you're doing is comparing "fahren" to "mitfahren".
You add the information on with what you're travelling using a modal adverbial. "Mitfahren" can't have an object and "fahren" does not technically require it (see the comment), so it's just a modal adverbial for them.

Ich fahre [mit der Bahn]. (fahre + Modal adverbial)
Ich fahre [mit der Bahn] mit. (mitfahren + Modal adverbial)

For "fahren", you can have an Akkusativ object like this:

Ich fahre [den Zug].

Also: Partikelverben are, according to my Duden grammar, the "Trennbare Verben" you mention in your first sentence. The verbs that form complex phrases with other parts of speech are a whole different story.

What you have with "mitfahren" is a Partikelverb already, and "mit" is just a particle of the verb.

  • 1
    From a syntactical standpoint, "fahren" does not need an object. "Ich fahre jetzt" is a valid sentence. It does lack some information, but that's a semantic problem, not a syntactical one.
    – RHa
    May 9, 2023 at 19:12
  • Ok, thank you for the correction. May 9, 2023 at 19:51

No, the mit in mitfahren and the mit in fahren mit etwas, despite having the same origin, have a very different function. The first mit is used to construct a composite verb, whereas the second mit is an ordinary preposition.

"Fahren Sie der U-Bahn mit?" is not a valid German sentence, because mitfahren cannot be used with a dative object in this way.

I am not sure about the part of your question mentioning "Partikelverben". Trennbare Verben and Partikelverben are basically the same thing in German. They can be used with prepositional phrases, but in this regard they are not fundamentally different from other verbs.

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