I was wondering about the "auf ... drauf" expression. For example, in this sentence I heard on YouTube:

Ich zeig' euch mal was auf meinem Handy drauf ist.

Does it literally mean:

I'll show you what's on my phone thereon?

Does "auf" alone sound not convincing enough and you have to put "drauf" afterward? Or does "drauf" add something to the sense?

3 Answers 3


Hmm, this is a tough one.

On the one hand, Dunkit is right, insofar as some people will think the double expression bad style or too colloquial. (In this respect it's a bit like the English "off of", as in "take the hat off of your head"...)

On the other hand, Dunkit's 'corrected' version may sound more correct, but it's definitely less common. With all the other litte indicators of register (elision of 'e', usage of 'mal', second person), this sounds like a very colloquial situation and I'd expect colloquial usage. Interestingly, the corrected version actually sounds truncated in this light. Note that 'drauf' is the colloquial version of 'darauf', which can't be used here.

I'm going out on a limb here, but maybe the addition of 'drauf' is an unconscious attempt to replace a participle that's preceived as missing. For example, in a formal version of Dunkit's example I'd expect 'gespeichert' or something similar before the 'ist'. Perhaps we are so used to having 'auf' followed by some further clarification that we automatically add an empty 'drauf' if there is none? Any thoughts?

In reply to your actual question:

No, I don't think there's a real reason to add the 'drauf'. For most people, it adds nothing to the sentence's meaning. Oh, and forget the translation with the additional 'thereon' - 'auf... drauf' simply translates to 'on' or maybe 'on top' in an actually spatial context.

  • This might be personal preference or regional differences, but I would NEVER say "Ich zeig' euch mal was auf meinem Handy drauf ist". Although with my 25years I'd consider myself a "digital native". Plus the people I know don't say that either... So mybe it's a regional thing... EDIT: The verb in this sentence - to me - is "ist". Don't see why you would use "drauf" to replace a "missing" verb?!
    – fpnick
    Oct 17, 2013 at 10:35
  • @Dunkit: Thanks for pointing this out - 'ist' is of course a verb. What I meant is a participle (edited that). Maybe this is a regional or social thing - to me, your version sounds as unnatural and wrong as mine sounds to you. Interesting!
    – Mac
    Oct 17, 2013 at 11:18

I think that there is some secret desire at work to create more prefix verbs. After all, this whole prefix thing is one of the fundamental structures in German. In this case it would be draufsein which then takes auf as a preposition. Sein is very reluctant when it comes to taking prefixes. But people keep trying.

Ich weiß nicht, wie lange das her ist.

There is no word hersein but there is no logical reason for it being * her sein*. Anyway. There are examples where this "double use" of prepositions has been successful or is at least less colloquial.

Wir gehen um den See herum.

Man isst zum Fisch Zitrone dazu,... (more examples)

I think the underlying phenomenon is exactly the same as for auf dem Handy drauf

  • 1) "hersein" is not a word. It's two words. "her" and "sein". 2) be careful: "herumgehen" is not neccessarily the same as "um etwas herum gehen" like in "Wir gehen um den See herum". 3) "Man isst zum Fisch Zitrone dazu" isn't wrong, but nobody would say that. You would say "Zum Fisch isst man Zitrone" oder "Man isst zum Fisch Zitrone".
    – fpnick
    Oct 17, 2013 at 10:31
  • @Dunkit: 1)... that was my point. It is not one word but there is no reason for it not to be... I have edited my answer to make that more clear 2)true... still it is an example for a double and redundant "um" that is widely accepted 3) Well, I think people do say that.
    – Emanuel
    Oct 17, 2013 at 10:48
  • @Dunkit I say all these "auf meinem Handy drauf" "um den See herum" and "zum Fisch dazu" and only these variants. A sentence sounds indeed incomplete to me without them and when I read the question first I was sure that you cannot drop "drauf" and when I read the sentence again I realized that it's redundant. All these sentences sound really odd to me when you drop the apparently redundant part.
    – Em1
    Oct 17, 2013 at 10:52
  • 2) sure what you said in your post is correct. I was just trying to point out that thos two things I mentioned aren't the same. But in "Wir gehen um den See herum" the um isn't redundant! It is absolutely necessary. "Wir gehen den See herum" doesn't make any sense! 3) I never heard anyone saying "Man isst zu X Y dazu"... Imho the most common way of saying this would be "Zu X ist man Y", to avoid the double "zu"
    – fpnick
    Oct 17, 2013 at 10:54
  • 1
    If it's a regional thing is it southern or Bavarian? Yiddish definitely goes to town with the prefixes. We say things like: "Ich bin 'erein-gekummen in Haus 'erein". I ask about the Southern connection because a lot of our patterns seem to resonate with the south. Oct 17, 2013 at 16:06

"auf ... drauf" is actually pretty colloquial language and not really good. At least in this case.

Ich zeig' euch mal was auf meinem Handy ist.

is much better!

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