Word of the Day – “suchen” – prefixed

suchen-aussuchen-pictureHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will take a look at the meaning of


But not just that. We will also look at ALL the prefix-versions of suchen that are out there. Ylläsuchen or öxersuchen are not… I mean… they don’t exist. But versuchen does. And besuchen and a few other really really common ones. And the meanings are … well… some are pretty straight forward. Other are more like a free jazz interpretation of a famous song. You really need to have your music theory down to see a connection.
So… are you ready to dig into suchen and see what we can find?

Suchen  means to search. And suchen is also related to search. At least, that’s what I thought until one of our interns gave me the results of his research for the show. Hold on, let me read it to you.

Corie’s research for the suchen-show

Search comes from cerchier. This is old French but the real origin is the Latin word circare.  It is related to the word circle and it
meant to wanderto go here and there. So the verb to search is
based on the idea of the walking you have to do. 

Meh… I guess that makes sense. Let’s see what’s to say for suchen.

Suchen is related to the English to seek. The origin is the Indo-European root
*sag which meant to investigate or to seek out. Probably in sense of
following traces and other hints. It is a rather focused activity, at least in
comparison with the walking back and forth that search is based on. It is also worth mentioning
that all the interns at German is Easy do not receive any
payment or compensation whatsoever, not even lunch money, and some days
we have to work up to fourte…

What the…? This wasn’t in the original script?!  Goddamn, this is a live show, man. Everyone just heard that and will now think we’re all slavers here. Look… I know you want to get payed and some perks but … our budget… it’s complicated, okay? And pulling shit like that won’t help. Seriously!
But let’s get back to our topic.
So the history is different but the meaning is pretty much the same. Or actually…  the German suchen is a little bit broader and spans from the very basic to look for to … well to seek.

  • Thomas  sucht nach Liebe.
  • Thomas is searching for love.
  • Maria sucht nach ihrer Brille.
  • Maria is looking for her glasses.
  • Ich habe bei meiner besten Freundin Rat gesucht.
  • I sought counsel from my best friend.

And German also uses suchen in phrasings like the following.

  • I have to find a new flat.
  • Ich muss mir eine neue Wohnung suchen.

 Finden would be understandable but it sounds a bit odd… at least to me.
Anyway, the noun search is die Suche,  the ge-form is also used a lot and in compounds finally, we often see just Such.

  • Kellner gesucht.
  • Waiter/waitress/staff wanted.
  • Die Suche war erfolgreich.
  • The search was a success.
  • Die Webseite hat keine Suchfunktion.
  • The website has no search function.

And that’s pretty much it for the related words. Except for the verbs that is.
First, there is a group of verbs that just uses the search-idea and makes it a little more specific. Absuchen for example means to search a location completely. It’s a bit  like scanning, actually… so it is on the surface and often with the eyes.

  • Fred die Maus sucht den Himmel nach Falken ab. Superman auch.
  • Fred the mouse scans the sky for falcons. Superman too.

If the search involves opening things, like drawers or doors or folders or even pockets, then it is durchsuchen… “to search through”.

  • Ich durchsuche meine Festplatte.
  • I search my whole hard drive.
  • Die Polizei hat mich durchsucht.
  • Police frisked me.

And then, even more intense if you will, there is  untersuchen… I don’t really know why it’s unter but it means to investigate, to research or in context of doctors to examine.

  • Die Polizei untersucht das Verschwinden von Mona Lisas Lächeln.
  • Police is investigating the disappearance of Mona Lisa’s smile.
  • Der Arzt untersucht mich.
  • The doctor examines me.

And now it’s time to enter the realm of abstract. The realm of odd.
The realm of twisted.
Where, if you have it, you actually missed it.
Where up is down and left is right.
Where closed eyes will give you sight.
Whence seldom sense ever came
There dwell prefixes, too wild to tame.

I… I tried :).
Hey but speaking of trying. Trying has NOTHING to do with our next verb.


Most of you know besuchen as to visit and there are two interesting things to say… why it means that, and why you don’t need it. At least not as much as you think.
So… the “be”-prefix is pretty consistent in what it does… it changes the meaning to “to inflict verbing on something”. (We’e talked about that in detail in the show on the “be-“-prefix. I’ll add a link below). It does the same here. But not to the present day suchen. It adds the idea to the old one… to to seek. So it is kind of  “to inflict seeking on something or someone”. And that makes total sense with the meanings it had 1000 years ago… to examine,  to question someone…. if you know the word beseech… well it’s the lost twin of besuchen.  Basically it was just an intense seeking. Seeking for answers, seeking to do something, and so on. Now, if you want to question someone, or ask for something or if you want to examine a place, you need to go there.
“But wait Emanuel,  a king would summon the person to question rather than goi… ”
Yeah yeah whatever. At least sometimes you have to go there and it is abstract anyways.
So, over time, besuchen  lost most of the seeking-idea and what remained is … well… the going there. But it’s still more than just going there. There is some looking around and checking things out left in the verb. You wouldn’t really besuchen a supermarket.
Now, let’s get to the usage.

  • Ich besuche meinen Opa.
  • I visit my grandpa.
  • Ich besuche das Museum.
  • I visit the museum.

Those are fine…. in theory. But in practice, besuchen sounds a little formal, a little stilted. I think I never actually use the verb because for most day to day visits, people would just say that they GO to the place or the person.

  • Morgen fahre ich zu meiner Oma.
  • Tomorrow I’ll go to my grandma. (lit.)
  • Warum ich nicht gerne ins Museum gehe.
  • Why I don’t like visiting Museums.

This is especially true for doctors and cities.

  • Ich  besuche Berlin / einen Arzt.

To me, this sounds a little funny… like Berlin is a friend of yours. Again, I would just say that I go there or that I am there

  • Ich war schon ein paar mal in Berlin.
  • I’ve visited Berlin a bunch of times.

Besuchen is not wrong. It just sounds a bit formal. The only  situation when I would use it is to visit someone in the hospital. So… besuchen itself isn’t used all that much.  The related nouns are, though.
Especially the following phrase is super common.

  • Ein Freund aus Australien kommt/ist zu Besuch.
  • A friend from Australia is/will be visiting.

Besuch can be a visit, for example a Museumsbesuch, but it can also be a vague term for the visitors.

  • Ich habe Besuch.

This doesn’t tell us how many people or what gender or whatever… just that there are visitors.

  • Ist dein Besuch noch da?
  • Is your “visit” still there?

But there is also a “real” word for visitor.

  • Seit sie ihre Webseite neu gemacht haben, hat die Firma jeden Tag Tausende Besucher auf der Seite.
  • Ever since they’ve relaunched their website, the company has thousands of visitors on the site.
  • Die Mona Lisa ist ein Besuchermagnet.
  • The Mona Lisa is a magnet for visitors.

All right.
So bottom line… besuchen does mean to visit, but in daily life it is often not the best pick. And speaking of pick…. that leads us right to our next word.


Aussuchen is one of those basic everyday words that students of German kind of miss out on. Literally, it means to search out,or, if we go by the word’s history, to seek out. And the real meaning ? Is to pick or to select or to choose.

  • “Wo wollen wir uns denn treffen. Bei mir oder im Café?”
    “Kannst du dir aussuchen! Mir ist beides recht.”
  • “Where should we meet? At my place or in a cafe?”
    “You can choose! I’m fine with either.”
  • Jeder sucht sich 3 Filme aus und dann lassen wir den Zufall entscheiden.
  • Everyone selects/picks 3 movies and then we’ll let chance decide.

It’s not too crazy, I think. Sure, in the first example there isn’t much searching involved. And there is little to none of the strive we have in to seek. But both, to search and to seek, do have an element for “to go for something” and that’s not too far from to pick in sense of to select.
Now, some may already know the word  wählen. But wählen is a bit “bigger”. And more formal. It can mean to select, yes, but it can also mean to elect. Aussuchen is not to elect. We wählen our government. But not candy. Aussuchen is more casual, more down to earth and it has an element of the actual picking as in to pick something up in it. And that’s why it is used more often in daily life than wählen.
All right.
Now, maybe one word on grammar. You will often hear aussuchen with these weird self references

  • Ich habe mir etwas ausgesucht.
  • I picked something.

So… is it actually sich aussuchen? Like.. a “reflexive verb”?
The answer is no… aussuchen works fine without that self reference.

  • DVD Abend… du suchst die Filme aus, ich den Wein.
  • Movie night… you pick the movies, I pick the wine. (could I skip “pick” here?)

The mir/dir/sich/… just makes it sound more personal and that’s what aussuchen is often used for… picking stuff for ourselves, based on our “liking”.

  • “Wann wollen wir uns treffen… vormittags oder nachmittags?”
    “Mir egal… such dir aus.”
  • “When should we meet… morning or afternoon?”
    “Same to me… YOU choose.

The focus is clearly that the person should just pick whatever is best for him or her. And the dir expresses that “ego-ness”, if you will.  Without it, the sentence would sound a bit strange, also because orders that just consist of the verb do sound quite blunt.

  • “When should we meet?”
    “Same to me. Choose!”

And to give you another example, here’s a common phrasing with aussuchen.

  • “Das Projekt, an dem du arbeitest, hört sich echt scheiße an.”
    “Naja… Ich habe mir das nicht ausgesucht.”
  • “The project you’re working on sounds like total crap.”
    “Well… It wasn’t my choice/I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Without the mir, the whole thing would just sound like A choice that you do, but that doesn’t affect you all that much. A bit like “I wasn’t the one who made the choice.”. I hope that makes some sense.
So anyway… aussuchen is a word you’ll definitely hear a lot. You should give it a shot too, and try to use the mir or dir or sich. 
And speaking of trying… well… you my bad transitions by now :)



Versuchen means to try. Or does it? Dun dunn dunnnnnn.
Let me check with a dictionary… hmmm…  it does. No surprises. But it is much more limited than to try.
Let’s see…  versuchen is not the right word for trying food. You could use either probieren  or kosten  and before you ask… I’ll add a link to the WotD “kosten” below.

  • Ich habe voll die leckere Suppe gekocht… koste mal!
  • I’ve made a super tasty soup… try!

And that’s not all. Kosten only works for food but probieren, is more broad and it (and the prefix versions) are actually the best word for to try in sense of trying out stuff.

  • Hast du schon mal Kaffee mit Rotwein getrunken? Solltest du mal probieren. Ist garnicht so schlecht.
  • Have you ever tried coffee with red wine? You should try it.
  • Entschuldigung, kann ich die Hose mal anprobieren?
  • Excuse me, could I try on these pants?
  • Ich probiere verschiedene Hipster-Filter auf meiner Foto-App aus.
  • I’m trying out different hipster filters on my photo-app.

So probieren is about checking something out. Seeing whether it fits or whether I like it. Versuchen is about making an attempt to successfully do something. Both verbs have quite a different feel, but the good news is that this becomes pretty clear after a look at the origins. Probieren is related to to probe and to prove. You “probe” a pair of pants or those cool filters as in  you test them or you sample them. That makes sense.
Now, we’ve learned that suchen comes from to seek. And that still shows in versuchen.It is to seek combined with the for-meaning of the prefix ver. And versuchen definitely has some striving in it. Just like in this example.

  • Ich versuche das Projekt heute fertigzukriegen.
  • I try (“seek”) to get the project done today.

But there is no strive in trying on a pair of pants. Unless you don’t want to acknowledge that you’ve … well… put on a few pounds. But seriously… trying coffee with wine has no strive and so versuchen sounds quite odd. I mean… sure… both words do overlap a bit but for the most part, they have a different ring to them.  Probieren always has this experimental vibe, versuchen is about “see if you can do it.”

  • Versuch mal, weniger Salz zu nehmen.
  • Try to use less salt (if you can manage).
  • Probier mal, weniger Salz zu nehmen.
  • Try to use less salt (maybe that’ll do the trick).

So… I hope you got an idea, and if you’re still unsure, well… don’t worry too much and just give it a try because

  • Probieren geht über studieren.
  • Trying goes over studying. (lit)
  • The proof is in the pudding. (This makes NO sense to me :D… if someone could explain that that’d be awesome )

All right. Now, what now? Maybe a word on grammar. In English, we have all these different structures … to try verbing, to try to verb, to try and verb. .. in German, there is just one: a zu-sentence.

  • Jemand versucht zu verben.
  • Someone tries to verb.

Here are a bunch of examples

  • Ich versuche nicht zu lachen.
  • I’m trying not to laugh.
  • “Die Scheiß-App hängt.”
    “Starte mal neu.”
    “Hab’ ich schon versucht. Geht nicht.”
  • “The damn app is frozen.”
    “I already tried. Doesn’t work.”
  • Ich versuche, die Tür zuzuziehen.
  • I’m trying to pull the door shut.

And yes, the last one does exist :). What also exists is of course a noun for versuchen … well, actually there are two nouns, but the common one is der Versuch. And this is a lot closer to probieren in that it can mean of course the try but also test or experiment.

  • Es war den Versuch wert.
  • It was worth the try.
  • Guter Versuch.
  • Nice try.
  • Die Kunden sind die Versuchskaninchen.(“experiment-bunnies”)
  • The customers are the guinea pigs.

The other noun is die Versuchung and it means….  temptation. This isn’t THAT weird actually. You see… that hot someone at the bar giving you salacious looks is like “You… yeah you. Come on over”and your partner is at home  with a flue. Or that chocolate truffle box on the desk… it “strives” for you to eat it.   It’s a test (Versuch) and you’re the subject, if that makes sense.
Now, versuchen the verb actually also has this tempting-meaning. One somewhat common example is this.

  • Ich bin versucht, dir zu glauben.
  • I am tempted/inclined to believe you.

But generally the try-meaning is so strong that versuchen doesn’t give much room for word play.
All right. So this was versuchen. It means to try but only in sense of to try and see if I can do something or not.

We’re almost done, but there are a few other prefix-suchens. They are not all that useful but I guess we should mention them.
is a rather formal word for to ask someone for something… you can use it if you want to confuse your friends with some courtesy parlor :).

  • Darf ich dich um ein Bier ersuchen?
  • May I respectfully  inquire for a beer?

Then, there is aufsuchen, which is an odd, somewhat stilted way of saying that you go somewhere. Again, if you want to use weird vocab with your friends… this is one for you.

  • Ich suche die Toilette auf.
  • I’m going to the toilet.

Finally, there is heimsuchen. Heim means home so heimsuchen could be something like looking for a home or going home or something. Well… it kind of is. But it’s not your own home :).

  • Deutsche Grammatik sucht  ihn in seinen Träumen heim.
  • German grammar is haunting him in his dreams.

“Honey!!! Wake up!”
“What?? Wo bin mich?”
“You’re inflecting again.”
“Oh no… damn intensive course.”

So… that’s all for today. This was our look on suchen and it’s very abstract, yet useful prefixes-versions. If you have any questions or suggestions or if you want to try out some examples for versuchen and probieren just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you nächstes Mal.

related posts:

–  die Wahl (wählen)
 – das Kostehäppchen
– German Prefixes Explained – “be-”
German Prefixes Explained – “ver-“


85 responses to “Word of the Day – “suchen” – prefixed

  1. Wow! Eine ausgezeichnete Erklärung! Hut ab! Ich freue mich immer auf alle Ihre Beiträge. ( kindly correct ;-))


  2. Great post again. The info on the history of the words, cognates in English and the Prefixes, (those bloody prefixes) really aids my understanding cos I’m a bit of a word geek!

    “The proof is in the pudding” is incorrect and makes no sense because it’s a modern day corruption of a phrase that does make sense. “The Proof of the pudding is in the eating” …which of course means that you can deem something a success only after it had been tried out e.g. ” we’ve rehearsed and rehearsed the show, do you think it’ll work inn front of an audience? ” “Well the proof of the pudding will be in the eating”

    It’s a phrase that is used before the event. The newer nonsense version is usually used after the event as a sort of” was it a success? ” “people came in their droves and laughed their socks off. ..the proof is in the pudding”

    Think we have the US to thank for the new version. But everyone seems use it these days, politicians reporters etc

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah that original makes much more sense :)… although. thinking about what you’ve said about before/after, it could be like

      – Was it a success?
      – Well the proof (that it was) is in the pudding, which is where we found it after we looked for it there

      but anyway… for some reason this idiom feel 100% British to me… I just can’t picture, say, Hillary Clinton say this in a remotely serious context :)


      • An American politician trying to sound folksy might say it. Even Hillary Clinton. (Do your politicians do this too – try hard to project an image of “Oh, I’m just a regular guy” – or is it just a US thing?)

        In fact, here’s Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nBfIjMlOjo
        (And also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reGfR6qk1oA )


        • Au weia, au weia… fremdschämen!! Scripted idioms is bad bad scripted idioms in a language you’re clearly not “at home” in is awful… such an obvious appeal.
          I would say that American politicians are more prone to talking like that as I perceive them to be more colloquial in general. The German ones are more “speachy”… although… yesterday some guy working for the board of inquiry on “spy-gate” was asked by a radio reporter whether they might consider going back to using typewriter. He then said that they actually do have one. The reporter was like “Echt?” and the guy said “Kein Scheiß”…on air, in a newsradio. That was a nic surprise…
          Anyway, I think German politicians do use the common idioms to, but maybe more the serious ones, not the jovial, “cool” ones


    • “The proof is in the pudding” is not actually incorrect unless you’re some sort of hard-core prescriptivist. It’s just a highly idiomatic phrase. Also, to me it would sound equally appropriate were one to use the shortened phrase before or after the event.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I always sort of assumed “the proof is in the pudding” means: You can’t judge something according to the process by which it was done–what matters is the end result (i.e. how the pudding looks/tastes, not how elaborate the recipe was). To me the shortened version of the expression makes sense. The proof (of good cooking) is in the pudding.


  3. Always fun to read you :-) For “Kellner gesucht” I would say “waiter wanted” :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grateful Reader

    Danke! Ich hab mal eine Frage.

    “Die Polizei untersucht das Verschwinden der Mona Lisas Lächeln.”

    Wieso “der”? Das ist ja “das Lächeln”. Sollte es stattdessen nicht “des Mona Lisas Lächelns” oder “des Lächelns von Mona Lisa” sein?

    Und falls sich “der” eigentlich auf “die” Mona Lisa bezieht, dann liegt irgendwie ein Doppelgenitiv vor…


  5. Kann “auswählen” (statt wählen) verwendet werden wie “aussuchen”? zB “Wo wollen wir uns denn treffen” “Kannst du (dir) auswählen!”/”Wähl (dir) aus!”


  6. The English way to say ‘Kellner gesucht’ would be, ‘Waiter wanted’ or ‘Wanted, waiter’. But usually it would be written as ‘Staff wanted’. If the sign is on the window of a restaurant/cafe, it already implies waiters/waitresses etc… Love love this blog by the way. Keep up the brilliant work.


  7. It always cracks me up when people get twisted up about other languages’ idioms being nonsensical, but never think to look at the ridiculous stuff floating around in English. Your comment on the pudding idiom got me curious, so I did a little Googling on it.

    According to the internet, “the proof is in the pudding” is a shortened version of “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. The original form may go back as far as the 15thC, but the current idiom dates to the 1920s. It basically just means “you don’t know until you try” (you don’t know what’s in the pudding until you eat the pudding). Personally I would say this one sounds a bit dated now, and isn’t so much in use as a modern idiom.


    • The original makes a lot of sense but … it’s so looong :D. I can kind of see why it ended up truncated. Is there anything else idiomatic for that though?


      • The only similar one I can think of is “don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it” (you won’t know if you like it without trying it, so don’t assume you’ll think it’s bad). At least where I live, this one tends to get used with a bit of irony, sort of with an underlying meaning of agreeing with the other person that whatever you’re talking about is weird or disagreeable, but funny to pretend to take seriously for a moment.
        “Ugh why would anyone eat hot sauce in their cereal?”
        “Hey – don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!” -smile of ironic amusement-

        I think in the case of the pudding one, an English speaker (at least in Canada) is more likely to use plain speech today and just outright say “you won’t know ’til you try”.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Kellner gesucht= waiter wanted, (common phrasing in a “want-ad” or a listing of job opportunities.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Emmanuel ,
    Ich erwarte deines Artikel immer begeistert.
    Zuerst, darf ich sagen dass ich habe nicht ” Cerchier” nie gehört noch gelesen . Aber natürlich, benutz man ” Rechercher oder Recherche” in der gehobener oder wissenschaflicher Sprache . In heitigen Franzsösich , benutz man ” Chercher ” .
    Jetz meine Versuche .

    1) Ich bien auf der Suche einer Wohnung in der kommenden monaten in Hambourg .
    2) Die Polizei Seiner Wohnung nach Dieb abgesucht( / durchgesucht :durch und durch) .
    3) Ich habe mich auf Blutdruck und Cholesterinspiegel durchsuchen lassen .
    4)Letzes Wochende, habe ich meinen Sohn und seiner Freudin besucht .
    5)Sie hat Ihrer Gleichen ausgesucht .
    6) Für dieser versuch( experiment oder test ) , muss man die Chimikalien A und B in einen Reagenglas ( ver) mischen .
    7)Deutchlandsregierung hat den USA ersucht die spionageaffäre zwischen beider Ländern aufzuhören .
    8) Diese Fussbalniederlage allen Brasillianern (innen) heimegesucht und eine schlelesches Gewissen Ursacht .
    9) Ich suche meinen Freund morgen auf .
    Bist nächstes mal Ahmad .


    • Wow, so viele Beispiele. Super. Diesmal gibt’s einiges zu sagen :)

      1) Ich bin in den kommenden Monaten auf der Suche nach einer Wohnung in Hamburg.

      “Auf der Suche” immer mit “nach”, Wohnung in Hamburg sollte zusammen stehen, es sei denn du bist in Hamburg und suchst von Hamburg aus eine Wohnung in Berlin

      2) Die Polizei hat seine Wohnung nach dem Dieb abgesucht/durchsucht.

      “Die Wohnung” ist direktes Objekt, “durchsuchen” ist nicht trennbar. Das habe ich glaube ich vergessen zu sagen.

      Ich habe mich auf Blutdruck… untersuchen lassen.

      Wenn du dich darauf “durchsuchen” lässt, dann heißt das wörtlich, dass der Arzt guckt, ob du einen Blutdruck und einen C.Spiegel hast :)

      4) … seine Freundin

      Ist ja weiblich und direkt

      5) ier bin ich mir nicht sicher, was du sagen willst… was meinst du mit “gleichen”?

      6)Für diesen… Reagenzglas

      “Der Versuch” und dann Akkusativ

      7) Deutschlands Regierung hat die USA, die Spionage zu beenden.

      “die USA” ist Plural, “aufhören” kann etwas nur allein. Vielleicht so in etwa wie “s’arreter” … und dann… die Affaire kann man nicht wirklich beenden, nur den Auslöser/Grund der Affaire

      8) … hat alle Brasilianer heimgesucht und ein schlechtes Gewissen verursacht.

      “Schlechtes Gewissen” is “guilty conscience” … das müssen die Brasilianer nicht haben, denn sie haben nix falsch gemacht. Ich glaube “schlechtes Gefühl” passt besser. Ge-form von “verursachen” ist “verursacht”


      Satz an sich ist perfekt, aber nicht im Kontext von “casually visit”… mit “aufsuchen” klingt es so, als ob du hingehst, weil du was willst

      Hoffe das hilft :)


  10. Ich habe bei meiner besten Freundin (einen?) Rat gesucht.
    Ich habe (einen?) Besuch.
    Ein Freund aus Australien kommt/ist zu(m?) Besuch.

    Warum wurden die Artikel weggelassen? Des weiteren, kannst du bitte kurz den Unterschied zwischen suchen nach + Dativ und suchen + Akkusativ erklären? z.B. Ich suche eine Stelle. / Ich suche nach einer Stelle.


    • oh, gute und schwere Fragen :)… ich glaube, das sind einfach fixe Phrasen “Rat suchen”, “Besuch haben” “zu Besuch kommen”… so wie “Fussball spielen” oder “Fahrrad fahren”.. da sagt man auch nicht “einen Fussball/ein Fahrrad”
      In Bezug auf “suchen nach” vs “suchen”… ehrlich gesagt keine Ahnung. Ich glaube, die sind ziemlich synonym.


  11. cameron harris

    Hai, Tolle Artikel noch mal, sehr gerne gelesen!
    Ich habe mal überlegt über ein anderer Wort aus die ‘Suchen’ Wortstamm- ‘süchtig’, wie ‘ addicted, addictive, addict etc’. Verbindung?
    Gute Erklärung von die Unterschied zwischen versuchen un probieren auch , ich denke auch das versuchen ist mehr wie ‘attempt’ , und probieren ‘ try out/on’.
    Alles Gute, Danke Sehr!


    • Oh, das ist ziemlich gut… “versuchen” – “attempt” und “probieren” – “try out”…

      Ich dachte auch ganz lang, dass “süchtig” von “suchen” kommt, aber es kommt von “siechen”. Das ist sowas wie “languish”… verwandt mit “sick”. Da gehört auch “Seuche” dazu (epidemic,). “Süchtig” meint also eher “krank”.


      • Grateful Reader

        Eine Beziehung gibt es jedoch:

        “Wohl unter dem semantischen Einfluß von (nicht verwandtem) suchen (s. d.) entwickelt Sucht die Bedeutung ‘intensives Verlangen nach etw.’, vgl. Gefallsucht (18. Jh.), Herrschsucht (18. Jh.), Trinksucht (17. Jh.), Trunksucht (19. Jh.), und gewinnt in der 1. Hälfte des 20. Jhs. Verbreitung als Bezeichnung für ‘krankhafte Abhängigkeit von Betäubungs- und Rauschgiftmitteln’. – süchtig Adj. ‘von einem krankhaften Trieb erfüllt, gierig nach etw.’ (16. Jh.), ‘drogenabhängig’ (20. Jh.), ahd. suhtīg (8. Jh.), mhd. sühtec ‘krank’.”


    • Grateful Reader

      Ne kleine Fehlerkorrektur:

      > Tolle Artikel


      > über ein anderer Wort

      1. Ich glaube nicht, dass “über” mit “überlegen” geht (wenn schon, dann werd’ ich von Emanuel korrigiert.)
      2. anderes

      > aus die … Wortstamm

      aus dem

      > von die Unterschied

      vom [von dem] Unterschied


      • Hast Recht… “überlegen” wird eigentlich nur mit Aktivitäten verwendet… aber ich glaube, dass Muttersprachler das auch so sagen könnten… man fängt den Satz mit “überlegen” an und dann merkt man “Ach Mist, ich hätte mit nachdenken bauen sollen… na scheiß drauf, weiter geht’s” :)


      • Achso übrigens… das “Ne” hat mich ziemlich verwirrt, da am Anfang… sieht wie “nee” aus. Ich glaube am Satzanfang würde ich es lieber ausschreiben… oder mit Akzent, wobei das auch kacke aussieht.


  12. Great article, as usual.
    Also, major props to you for your clever poem! It actually rhymes and was the perfect set up for versu… er, besuchen ;-))))))


  13. SnowOnACactus

    As always, great post Emanuel.

    A couple questions:

    First, I’ve also heard the term “besuchen” specifically in terms of watching a play. Is that also too formal? Should I be using a different word?

    Second, I’m not sure if this is an error, but you wrote “Mir ist beides recht” in your examples as “I’m fine with either.” The literal translation of that phrase would seem to be “Both are right to me,” putting “both” in the subjective, and “to me” in the dative. Because “both,” being the subject, is plural, shouldn’t the verb be “sind” instead of “ist”? So the phrase would be “Mir sind beides recht,” or reworded, “Besides sind recht mir.”
    I’m mostly asking to see if there’s a grammar rule I can learn here, or if it’s just an error.

    Thanks as always!


    • So… I’d say “besuchen” is more for the general event of a play or an opera, not one play in particular, though there are example out there of people using it that way. To me it sounds a bit sophisticated… but for some “play-goers” that might just be right :).

      As for the second question… that had me thinking. Grateful Reader is totally right. It is singular. But it is indeed quite odd and I couldn’t quite fathom why this is… but then it occured to me that it is the same kind of word like English “all”. “All” also refers some sort of multitude and still can be used with a singular

      – All is well.

      In grammar terms these are indefinite pronouns and German has a singular and a plural version…

      – 4 Bücher und alle sind gut.
      – 4 books and all are good.

      The singular version gets an “s”… I guess it is inspired by Dative.

      – Alles ist gut.
      – All is well.

      It’s the same with “beide”, although even the plural is used with “s” sometimes (don’t ask me for a rule please :)

      – Deutsch und Englisch sind beide(s schöne Sprachen.

      The singular “beides” is used if we don’t have explicit items to point at… I mean… they are there in context but they are not really spelled out and they don’t have a gender assigned and such… just like in this example:

      – Erst Kaffee trinken oder erst joggen gehen… beides gleichzeitig geht nicht.

      I couldn’t really use the item-aware plural since my two “items” don’t have a “thingly form”… gosh, I don’t think I’m making sense :D


      • I was thinking the something like that – it’s similar to impersonal es, and my guess it comes from 3rd person singular neutral, since it’s already used to cover everything, regardless of the gender of a noun (zB. es gibt die/der/das; die vs die/die vs der/der vs das usw. —> beides)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Grateful Reader

        Two small comments:

        1. “Beides” reminds me of “Wichtiges”, “Interessantes” and other such substantivated adjectives. This could be a case of a pseudosubstantivated pronoun.

        2. For me “beides” is akin to “Paar”. We’re not surprised that a pair is singular, even though it denotes something plural.


    • Grateful Reader

      Beides is singular.


  14. Ok, I try a sentence with versuchen to see if I get the “try if I can do something” meaning… and I also take the opportunity for a more complex structure (at least for a beginner like me ;))
    Deutschen sind sehr geduldig, wenn ein Auslaender versucht Deutsch zu sprechen (and here comes another question: when do I say “auf Deutsch” instead of simply “Deutsch”?)

    and with aussuchen (that I didn’t know before):
    Ich suche mir die blau(e) Hose aus (to the salesperson, supposing I have tried several trousers. And sorry for the adjective, but I haven’t read the third part of your lesson yet ;))


    • Good job :)… the first example is perfect. Well, except that it is “Deutsche”… the “n” only comes when we have cases.
      As for “auf Deutsch” vs “Deutsch”, that’s a good question… .. “auf Deutsch” is more for singular events

      – Ich sage das auf Deutsch.
      – Ich schreibe oft auf Englisch.

      “Deutsch” alone is for the general speaking. And from a functional point of view… “Deutsch” is the direct object

      – Was sprichst du? Deutsch.

      “auf Deutsch” is a how-box

      – Wie sagst du das? Auf Deutsch.

      So if there is already a what-box in the sentence “Deutsch” alone would be wrong since you cannot have two direct objects.

      The other example is technically fine, too but people would either use past tense or the word “nehmen”, because when you speak to the clerck the decision has already been made

      – Ich habe mir die blaue Hose ausgesucht.
      – Ich nehme die blaue Hose.

      Finally “blau(e)”… no need for part 3 here, an “e” is ALWAYS needed :)


  15. thank you!!! Of course you are right about the past for the second sentence, but I wanted to try a trembar verb, as they are still soooo weird to me (by the way, once I used versuchen as a trembar verb with a friend… it take her 5 minutes to understand what I was saying ;))


  16. : Movie night… you pick the movies, I pick the wine. (could I skip “pick” here?)
    Ich glaube nicht. Es klingt formal und altmodisch. Ich würde sagen: you pick the movies, I’ll choose the wine. oder, I’ll get the wine. Die Wiederholen des Wort kingt monoton.


    • Ah super … danke :)


    • Interesting! I’m actually learning a lot about English on this site as well. You really can’t skip the second “pick” here or it sounds like an attempt to be poetic, though your example in German does not repeat the same verb since it is implied and obvious (and in Spanish, it would not be repeated either). Of course, in writing it makes sense to use a synonym the second time (I’ll choose, I’ll select), but in normal conversation, one would almost certainly say, “you pick the movies, I’ll pick the wine.” Good stuff!


      • German actually uses phrasings like this a lot…

        – Thomas hat 3 Bier getrunken, ich nur eins.

        instead of

        – … , ich habe nur eins getrunken.

        This is soooooo boring, it almost sounds wrong to me … I’d really be like “Yeah okay… stop speaking. I got it” after the number :)


    • Haha, ich stimme dir zu. “You pick the movies, I the wine” klingt wie Shakespeare oder jemand aus dem Mittelalter. Außer, dass die keine “movies” hatten…


  17. Grateful Reader

    massebezogen oder massenbezogen?


    • Kann ich nur im Kontext entscheiden… “massebezogen” klingt für mich nach Physik, “massenbezogen” klingt weniger technisch.


      • Grateful Reader

        Masse[n]bezogene Variable…
        Ja, es geht um Wissenschaft. Ich dachte eigentlich, da Masse weiblich ist, und da andere Zusammensetzungen (wie Massenträgheitsmoment oder Massenabsorptionskoeffizient) “n” drin haben, sollte es nur “massenbezogen” geben, doch es scheint eigentlich beides zu geben, und, dir nach, es kann sogar sein, dass die Wörter sich voneinander inhaltlich unterscheiden.


        • Ich hab ein bisschen rumgesucht und wahrscheinlich ist es im Wesentlichen Konvention… manche Fügungen im technischen Bereich sind mit “Masse”, andere mit “Massen” .. und manchmal ist das “n” eine Marke für “Besitz”, wie zum Beispiel in “Massenträgheitsmoment” (Trägheitsmoment von Masse), andere Male ist es eher Plural, wie in “Massenwirkungsgesetz”.
          Ich glaube, das “Masse blah” so in der Alltagssprache nicht vorkommt, da ist fast alles mit “Massen” (Massentierhaltung, massenhaft, Massenabwanderung)


          • Grateful Reader

            Also wär’s standardmäßig “massenbezogen”, mit möglicher aber nicht zu empfehlender n-loser Variante…

            Ich glaube, bei “flächen-” gibts es im Gegensatz dazu kaum Varietät.


          • Was ist hier die richtige endundung ? Volum+en oder volum+e ?
            – Der volum+en( oder +e) bezogene Alkohol dieses roten Wein is 12 Prozent .
            Im voraus danke .


          • In Deutsch ist es “das Volumen”… also immer mit “n”… man sagt aber eigentlich eher “Alkoholgehalt”… oder umgangssprachlich “Umdrehungen” (turns)


  18. Those poor interns!!! :(


    • Yeah it’s really hard work and little reward. Thanks a lot for caring :)… can’t talk openly though. They randomly check our answers here and I need those college credits. Peace


  19. For the “unter” in “untersuchen” you might want to compare it with “to undergo” or “to undertake”, the “under” gives the meaning of “to carry on with” or “to go through with” which is close to the intended meaning of “untersuchen” (to search through ~= to investigate). Even weirder is “to understand” (try figuring out where that one comes from!), although it might be more difficult to compare with “untersuchen”.


    • “Understand” is weird indeed :)… I have always thought of it as “standing under something” as in “supporting it”… I checked the history and the “unter” is probably related to “inter”, but still … very abstract


  20. Wait, doesn’t the “etwas wert sein” construction use the genitive? As in “es ist der Mühe wert”


    • Nah…the standard case for the measure is accusative

      – Das ist einen Euro wert.

      Not “eines Euros” … the Genitive has a slightly different meaning

      – Das ist nicht der Rede wert.
      – It is not worthy of the talk.

      – Das ist nicht die Rede wert.
      – The talk is worth more than “it”.

      The accusative is kind of for the common notion of exchange or trade… one for the other… while the Genitive doesn’t directly compare them. I think the following example makes it more clear:

      – Er ist ihrer nicht wert.

      This doesn’t mean that he and she have the same value… it means that he is not worthy of her.

      – Er ist sie nicht wert.

      That could be said on an animal market… like… I want to trade my steer (der Stier – er) against your cow (die Kuh – sie) and you’re like

      – No.. your steer is not worth my cow.


  21. Grateful Reader

    Entspricht -mäßig “wie”/”als ob”?

    Sein Benehmen ist nicht präsidentenmäßig.
    Dein Hut ist opamäßig.
    Terroristenmäßiges Verhalten von russischen Separatisten.


  22. I am curious why is there:
    “Die Polizei hat mich durchsucht.
    Police frisked me.”
    instead of: Die Polizei hat mich durchgesucht ?
    I love your blog. Greets :)


    • Good question… I forgot to mention that in the post. It’s because the “durch” in “durchsuchen” is strongly linked… or non-seperable. Just like “ver” or “be”. So the word has the emphasis on the second syllable… “durchSUUchen”.
      “Durch” is one of the few prefixes that can be both seperable and non seperable.
      Hope that helps :)


  23. Koenntest du etwas fuer mich bitte erklaeren? Ich bemerke immer die zwei Worte “nun” und “jetzt”. Ich verstehe, dass beide (*beides?) “now” bedeuten. Aber ich weiss nicht, ob es einen Unterschied zwischen ihnen gibt.
    P.S. Sorry if you can’t understand my terrible German.
    P.P.S. Sorry about the lack of umlauts, I don’t have them on my keyboard, and I couldn’t be arsed pasting them :(


    • Keine Sorge… ich habe alles verstanden und… es war alles richtig !! :). Sehr gut.
      Für “nun” und “jetzt” mach ich mal ein WiTD-Special… der Kern ist, dass “jetzt” sehr punktuell ist… mehr so wie “right now”.
      Ach und wegen der Umlaute… pff… egal. Ich habe bei Französisch auch nie die Akzente geschrieben.. und du machst ja sogar die Version mit “e” :)


  24. It just hit me that versuchen is better translated as “attempt” than “try” in English and that they are both connected to temptation ” – die Versuchung. Thanks for the great blog


  25. “Ich durchsuche meine Festplatte.”

    Ich habe die Kommentäre durchgesucht. Aber nicht so fleißig muss ich sagen. Muss es dann abgesucht sein?

    Trotzdem kommt meine Frage: ist es durchgesucht oder durchsucht? Also ist durch trennbar oder nicht?


    • Ne, “absuchen” und “durchsuchen” ist beides ziemlich gründlich. Etwas weniger gründlich wäre vielleicht

      – Ich habe die Kommentare durchgeguckt

      und noch weniger

      – Ich habe in den KOmmentaren gesucht/geguckt.

      Das “durch” impliziert “komplett”… wie bei “durch den Tunnel” vs “in den Tunnel”


    • Aha, ich habe die Antwort gefunden. Aber mein Wörterbuch sagt, das beide ‘durch’ möglich sind. Trennbares ‘durch’ soll bei suchen nach etwas benutzt werden und untrennbares ‘durch’ soll bei suchen irgendwo verwendet sein. Also…

      Ich habe alles durchsucht, konnte aber mein Portemonnaie nicht finden


      Ich habe nach mein Portemonnaie durchgesucht.

      Was sagst du?


  26. I loved the instant mental image I got with “your partner is at home with a flue”. She’s having an affair with the chimney!


  27. yt@mailanator.com

    “Ich habe Besuch.” Is that somewhat like the expression “We have company” or “We’re having company “, meaning we have guests ?


  28. Perhaps I’m a little fussy, but is there any difference between “etwas suchen” and “nach etwas suchen”? Thanks in advanced!


    • Not really. One might be more idiomatic than the other in a certain context but I don’t think there’s a “system” or anything. “etwas suchen” is a bit more immediate and focused, maybe.

      – Searching for Sugar Man.

      Here for example, I’d use “nach Sugar Man suchen”. The other one wouldn’t really do the scope justice.


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