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Prepositional Verbs and Adjectives 
Summary Please refer to the main Preposition page for practice exercises and diagnostic exercises on this topic
Additional Usage Notes Prepositional Adjectives

Summary

  • On this page you will find a list of common prepositional verbs, i.e. verbs that are typically used in certain prepositions, like "wait for" or "Talk about" in English.
  • Most German prepositional verbs are also prepositional verbs in English, but the prepositions used with the verbs are not always analogous.  Thus "wait FOR" is "warten AUF" (not "warten FÜR") in German, "believe IN" is "glauben AN" (not "glauben IN") etc.  In some cases, a German prepositional verb does not require a preposition in English.  For example, "I answer the question" is "Ich antworte AUF die Frage," and "I doubt you" is "Ich zweifle AN dir."  Such verbs are listed in bold print in the table below.  This page includes primarily verbs which take prepositions that cannot easily be guessed by looking at their English counterparts. ==> If a common prepositional verb is not listed here, chances are the preposition is analogous to English, e.g "sprechen mit" <==> "to speak with"; "wohnen in" <==> "to live in" etc.
  • When two-way prepositions are used in combination with prepositional verbs, they no longer indicate motion or location, and so the motion/location distinction for deciding whether the preposition should be followed by a noun or pronoun in the accusative or dative no longer applies.  Instead, you need to learn for each prepositional verb individually whether it will be followed by nouns or pronouns in the accusative or in the dative.  In the table below, the case is listed in parentheses following each two-way preposition.  [==> No case is listed for accusative and dative prepositions, since you will ALWAYS use accusative after accusative prepositions, and dative after dative prepositions.]  In the majority of cases, the two-way preposition will be followed by nouns and pronouns in the accusative, as you can see in the table below.  ==>
If in doubt, your best guess is to use the accusative with nouns and pronouns following two-way prepositions associated with prepositional verbs. 
  • The most common exceptions to this rule of thumb are prepositional verbs with "vor," which are usually followed by nouns and pronouns in the dative, and "arbeiten an," which is also followed by the dative.
  • Similarly, when two-way prepositions are used in combination with certain adjectives, they no longer indicate motion or location, and so again you need to learn which case to use for each individual adjective + preposition combination.  More information on this is provided below.  At the third semester level at the University of Michigan, we will expect you to be aware of this concept, but will not expect you to have memorized the list of prepositional adjectives given below.
Common Prepositional Verbs For Which the Preposition is not Analogous to English
ab•hängen von, hing ab, hat abgehangen to depend upon
achten auf (acc.) to pay attention to
Angst haben vor (dat.), hatte, hat gehabt to be afraid of
antworten auf (acc.) to answer
arbeiten an (dat.) to work on
auf•passen auf (acc.) to keep an eye on, look out for (kids, food on stoves...)
bestehen aus, bestand, hat bestanden to consist of
betteln um to beg for
bitten um, bat, hat gebeten to ask for, to request
denken an (acc.), dachte, hat gedacht to think of (as in: I'm thinking of you right now.)
denken über (acc.), dachte, hat gedacht to think of (as in: what do you think of X?)
denken von, dachte, hat gedacht to think of (as in: what do you think of X?)
(jemand) erinnern an (acc.) to remind (someone) of
es geht um, ging, ist gegangen it is a matter of
glauben an (acc.) to believe in
halten von, du hältst, hielt, hat gehalten to think of (as in: what do you think of X?)
hören auf (acc.) to obey, heed, listen to
leben von to live on (income, a job etc.)
nach•denken über (acc.), dachte nach, hat nachgedacht to think (deeply) about, to ponder
passen zu to match, to fit well together
rechnen mit to count on (something happening), to expect
schießen auf (acc.), schoss, hat geschossen to shoot at
setzen auf (acc.) to place a bet on
sterben an (dat.), du stirbst, starb, ist gestorben to die from
suchen nach to search for
trinken auf (acc.), trank, hat getrunken to drink to
etwas verstehen von, verstand, hat verstanden to know something about (in the sense of understanding and/or practical ability)
warnen vor (dat.) to warn against/about
warten auf (acc.)  to wait for
etwas wissen von, du weißt, wusste, hat gewusst to know something about (factually)
zittern vor (dat.) to tremble with/for (cold, fear etc.)
zweifeln an (dat.) to doubt
 Reflexive Verben mit Präpositionen
"(A)" or "(D)" following "sich" indicates whether the reflexive pronoun will be in the accusative or dative for these verbs--as you can see, the reflexive pronoun will be in the accusative for all the verbs listed below.
sich (A) ärgern über to be annoyed/upset about
sich (A) erinnern an (acc.) to remember
sich (A) freuen auf (acc.) to look forward to
sich (A) freuen über (acc.) to be glad about
sich (A) gewöhnen an (acc.) to get used to
sich (A) interessieren für to be interested in
sich (A) kümmern um to look after, bother about
sich (A) sehnen nach to long for
sich (A) sorgen um/sich Sorgen machen um to worry about
sich (A) verlieben in (acc.) to fall in love with
sich (A) vor•bereiten auf to prepare for

Additional Usage Notes

denken an, denken über, denken von, halten von, nachdenken über

Denken an is used if one is thinking of someone/something in the sense of having thoughts about it in one's head without necessarily thinking deeply or reflecting about it; denken über, denken von and halten von are used to ask people's opinions (what they think of something), and nachdenken über is used if one is thinking about something more deeply, e.g. in order to formulate an opinion or make a decision.
 
Woran denkst du gerade? What are you thinking about right now?
Ich denke an Rammstein. I'm thinking about Rammstein.
Was denkst du von Rammstein?
Was denkst du über ihre Musik?
Was hältst du von ihren Liedtexten?
What do you think of Rammstein?
What do you think of  their music?
What do you think of  their song lyrics?
Ich weiß nicht.  Ich muss darüber nachdenken. I don't know.  I have to think about it.

antworten auf

Antworten auf is identical to beantworten, which is used without a preposition.  Auf specifies what is being answered (a question, an offer, a challenge etc.).  The person being answered (if specified) will be in the dative, since antworten is a dative verb.
 
Ich antworte (dir) auf die Frage.
Ich beantworte (dir) die Frage.
I'm answering the question (for you).
Sie antwortete auf sein Angebot mit Gelächter.
Sie beantwortete sein Angebot mit Gelächter.
She answered his offer with laughter.

suchen nach

Suchen can be used with or without nachNach is usually used if one is searching for something more abstract.
 
Ich suche meine Schlange.
Less common: Ich suche nach meiner Schlange.
I'm looking for my snake.
Du suchst nach Erfüllung.
Less common: Du suchst Erfüllung.
You're searching for fulfillment.

sich (A) sorgen um/sich Sorgen machen um

These are used to express concern FOR someone or something.  To express one's own worries or nervousness, one uses sich Sorgen machen with wegen [=because of].  Sich Sorgen machen um is much more common than sich sorgen um, which sounds rather formal.
 
Wo warst du?  Ich habe mir solche Sorgen um dich gemacht! Where were you?  I was so worried about you!
Die Studenten machen sich Sorgen wegen des Examens/wegen dem Examen. The students are worried about the exam.
Die Studenten machen sich Sorgen um das Examen. This would mean the students are concerned for the exam, i.e. they are concerened that something bad might happen to the exam [not to themselves when they take the exam], e.g. that the exam might not happen because of bad weather.

Prepositional Adjectives

Certain adjectives are also commonly used with prepositions.  For two-way prepositions, this means the preposition no longer indicates motion or location, and so again you need to learn which case to use for each individual adjective + preposition combination.  More information on this is provided below.  At the third semester level at the University of Michigan, we will expect you to be aware of this concept, but will not expect you to have memorized the list of prepositional adjectives given below.  As is the case with prepositional verbs,
 
If in doubt, your best guess is to use the accusative with nouns and pronouns following two-way prepositions associated with prepositional adjectives. 
  • The most common exceptions to this rule of thumb are prepositional adjectives with "vor," which are usually followed by nouns and pronouns in the dative, and "interessiert an," which is also followed by the dative.

 
begeistert von enthusiastic about
bereit zu  ready, prepared, or willing to (do something)
böse auf (acc.)  angry at
fähig zu capable of (doing)
gespannt auf (acc.) in suspense about; anxiously/excitedly awaiting
gewöhnt an (acc.) accustomed to, used to
interessiert an (dat.) interested in
neidisch auf (acc.)  jealous of
sicher vor (dat.) safe from 
stolz auf (acc.) proud of
überzeugt von convinced of
verrückt nach crazy about
wütend auf (acc.) furious at
wütend über (acc.) furious about

Usage Examples: Prepositional Adjectives

Below are some usage examples.  Note that the word order depends on whether you want to emphasize the adjective or the noun:
 
Ich bin verrückt nach dir. I'm crazy for you (emphasis on "verrückt," i.e. on how intensely the speaker feels about the person s/he is addressing).
Ich bin nach dir verrückt. I'm crazy for you (emphasis on "you," i.e. the speaker is specifying that s/he is crazy about the person s/he is addressing, as opposed to someone or something else).
Ich bin an Enttäuschungen gewöhnt.
Ich bin gewöhnt an Enttäuschungen.
I'm used to disappointments (emphasis on "disappointments").
Ich bin zu allem bereit.
Ich bin bereit zu allem.
I'm ready for anything (emphasis on "anything").
Ich bin davon überzeugt, daß du und ich für einander bestimmt sind. I'm convinced that you and I are destined for each other.
Ich bin daran interessiert, mit dir essen zu gehen. I'm interested in going out to eat with you.

 



   
 

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