Prefix Verb Explained – “aufmachen”

aufmachenHello everyone,

and welcome to a  couple truths:  German has a plenty of prefix verbs that need explaining and summer is coming. Shabamm.
Time for a series that tackles both, and this series is about to start because you’re at the beginning of the very first episode of

Prefix Verbs Explained

In each episode (and there will be a LOT), we’ll take one prefix verb and look at what it means and WHY it means that and see how to use it properly.
And today, we’ll start with a look at the meaning of

aufmachen

 

And one rather general warning right away… prefix verbs usually DON’T translate to what they look like.
Or in case of aufmachen

Aufmachen does NOT mean to make up.

Make up one’s mind, make up an example, make up for something … if you were to use aufmachen for these it wouldn’t even be understood.
So what does it mean?
Well, we have auf and machen…. Machen means to make and to do and Germans use it for almost everything.
Auf is pretty typical for these separable prefixes in that it has two completely different notions. One is based in the word as a preposition and it is about location, the other one is seemingly  random one. To some verbs they add both notions, to others just one of them. And most of the time especially the meanings based on the local notion are somewhat abstract. So they are not so much about actual location… but we’ll get back to that later.
In case of auf the two ideas are “on top-ness” (the local component) and “open-ness”.  It can add both notions but by far the more important notion is open-ness.
Because the main use of aufmachen is to make open or simply…. to open.

  • Ich mache das Fenster auf.
  • I open the window.
  • Weißt du, wann der Supermarkt aufmacht?
  • Do you know when the supermarket is going to open?

Now you might be like “Hey, I thought to open was öffnen?”.
And that’s totally correct too. In fact, all words that are related to open like Flaschenöffner (bottle opener) or die Öffnung (the opening) are related to offen and öffnen.
But Germans really do like machen and they love having these prefixes at the end of a sentence and so when people talk about day to day basic opening of stuff, they use  aufmachen, not öffnen. Öffnen sounds a bit stiff and technical .. like..  You’d use that for a museum, but not for a beer.
Sure, you have to deal with this little prefix at the end, but you don’t have to bother with this weird ö-sound ;).

  • Hast du was, womit ich mein Bier aufmachen kann?
  • Do you have something I can open my beer with?
  • Die Kellnerin hat zuviel kassiert, aber ich wollte wegen 2 Euro kein Fass aufmachen. (common expression)
  • The waitress charges too much but I didn’t want to make a fuss about 2 bucks.
    ... I didn’t want to open a barrel. (lit.)

All right.
Now, this is definitely the main use of aufmachen, but it’s not the only one.
There’s also aufmachen with a self reference. And that means something quite different.

  • Ich glaub’, ich mach mich mal auf ins Fitnessstudio.
  • I’ll head out to the gym now, I think.

That’s right. Sich aufmachen means to head out, to start going someplace.
Seems like there’s no connection to the idea of opening. But don’t forget the other idea auf can add to a verb – the idea of on top.
You see… German has the following expression common:

  • sich auf den Weg machen
  • to make oneself on top of the way (lit.)
  • be on one’s way (in sense of to head out)

So maybe sich aufmachen is just a shortened version of that. Or it is but maybe it’s just the idea of making oneself upright… like … getting up from the couch.
Either way, the phrasing ispretty colloquial and even more native and cool than for example losgehen.
Like… losgehen is a cool club but it’s in all of those travel blogs and so everyone kind of knows it while sich aufmachen on the other hand is that hangout that only the REAL locals know about…. like… you’re REALLY in the know.
Anyway, here are some examples.

  • Berlin macht sich auf in die Zukunft.
  • Berlin heads for the future.
  • Am Nachmittag haben wir uns zum Brandenburger Tor aufgemacht.
  • In the afternoon we headed out for the Brandenburger Gate.

All right.
Now, as far as related words go, there’s really only a couple of them for aufmachen.
One is der Aufmacher, which technically means opener. But it’s not what you need if you want to open a bottle for example. That would be an Öffner. Aufmacher is ONLY opener in context of newspapers. The lead feature, that big fat headline on the front page that makes people buy it.
And this leads us right to the other noun, die Aufmachung, which means something like the layout, the design, the style. So this is kind of the closest that aufmachen gets to make up… which it is NOT a translation for. Just to stress that again :).
Now, Aufmachung is a pretty word, actually. So it only works in certain contexts, newspaper layout being one of them, but I don’t think you’ll need it in daily life. Just keep in mind that it’s NOT about opening something.
Cool.
So that’s pretty much all there is to say about aufmachen.
But of course that’s not all for today, because like for most prefix verbs, we need to look at the r-version.

raufmachen

R-versions (which I have yet to discuss in a separate article) usually are the most literal, locational interpretation of the combination of verb and prefix. So in case of raufmachen that should be something like “to make something on top of something“.
And indeed that’s what it is. Because raufmachen means to put on top.
And yes, machen is another option for to put. Because… you know… setzen, stellen and legen are NOT enough.
Raufmachen is VERY colloquial, but also pretty common in daily life. It’s primarily used in sense putting toppings on food but as you can see in the examples, you can find it in other contexts as well.

  • Ich habe mir noch Zwiebeln und Peperoni raufgemacht.
  • I also put/added onions and hot peppers on my pizza.
  • Das Brot ist mit Oliven und Kapern. Da würde ich eher kein Nutella raufmachen.
  • The bred is with olives and capers. I probably wouldn’t put Nutella on there.
  • “Mein Fuss tut voll weh.”
    “Musst du kühlen.”
    “Ja, ich hab’ schon so ‘ne Creme raufgemacht.”
  • “My foot hurts like crazy.”
    “Gotta cool it.”
    “Yeah, I already put on a creme for that.”
  • Das neue Update würde ich mir nich’ raufmachen. Das macht den Computer einfach nur langsam.
  • I wouldn’t install the new update. Really all it does is slowing down the computer.

And I think that’s it :).
This was the ever episode of our brand new series on prefix verbs, which started five years ago in 2015, but which is still as fresh as ever in crazy ass 2020. I mean… that’s my prediction, anyway. I can’t know, because it’s 2015 still.
I have a hunch though that 2020 will be… strange.
Anyway, as usual, if you want to check how much you remember, just take the little quiz I have prepared for you.
And of course if you have any questions about any of the meanings of aufmachen  just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

 

further reading:

 

 

**  Aufmachen – fact sheet **

Meanings:             aufmachen –  to open (for basic stuff, colloquial)
.                                 sich aufmachen – to head out (colloquial, high “impress your friends” -factor)

structures:     Jemand macht etwas auf.
.                         Someone opens something.

.                          Jemand macht sich auf.
.                          Someone head out.

spoken past:    form of “haben” + aufgemacht

related words:   der Aufmacher – the lead article (rare)
.                             die Aufmachung – the design, layout, look (super rare… very context specific)

prefix opposite:  zumachen – to close

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EM C
EM C
1 year ago

Hi Emanuel, why it says in some news that “Die Schulen öffnen wieder für alle Kinder”, instead of “Die Schulen öffnen sich / werden geöffnet”?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Because according to what I saw in the dictionary, öffnen can only with Akk.? like: “etw. öffnen”. So Schulen should be the Akk., right?

EM C
EM C
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Because according to what I saw in the dictionary, öffnen can only with Akk.? like: “etw. öffnen”. So Schulen should be the Akk., right?

EM C
EM C
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks a lot for the great and patient explanations! I hope I’m not bothering you with so many Fragen every week … But I really want to let you know how big the progress I’ve been made in German!!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

I thought it meant “to open” because “aufmachen” is a bit like “to turn on”, so you “turn the door on” as if it was an electric device. Then you “turn if off” (zumachen).

Marilynnnn
1 year ago

What about “machen auf…”? In the Nena song “Beruftsjugendlich” she sings “macht auf Hip”. How wouldnwe explain this?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Like putting some MAKE-UP to look different ?

Tiffany
Tiffany
1 year ago

I am reading this blog ending in 2020 and it is blowing my mind! Yes, 2020 is “strange” for sure!!! Wir alle hoffen dass der Coronavirus macht sich gleich den Weg auf.

psjohnson74
psjohnson74
2 years ago

“I have a hunch though that 2020 will be… strange.” Is your true name Nostradamus?

anasofia011
anasofia011
3 years ago

Man, you are amazing, the way you slide your jokes and puns in there just makes it so much more easy and bearable xD
It’s totally worth the money I spent, it feels like having class with the cool funny teacher at school that makes you look forward to the subject you hate the most instead of dreading the ours you have to spend listening to the worst and most boring teacher ever.
I no longer wonder “why did I do this to myself” so often ahah
Thank you so much!!!

2222222222222
2222222222222
3 years ago

Das beispiel mit raufmachen ich würde gerne wissen ob es mit anderen prefix auch so funktioniert .Z.B runtermachen reinmachen rausmachen…..etc.würde ‘Salz in die Suppe reinmachen’funktionieren?

2222222222222
2222222222222
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielenk Danke,ich freue mich auf deine Übung :).
Übeigens,mich würde interessieren,wie manˋ put salt into soup ´sagt Salz in die Suppe reinmachen/reintun/reinlegen? Welches passt am besten?

squeezeboxgoddess
6 years ago

A great article on prefix verbs again! I’m so glad that you cover them because at my current level of German they are the most frequent cause of me losing the thread of a conversation. One tip about English colloquial stuff… I would understand the phrase “my foot hurts like shit” but i would never use it and it would actually offend some (admittedly stuffy) people. Shit is one of the more strong-profanity words in America, I think it’s only medium curse-level in Germany and France. In America its one of the seven words banned from live radio broadcasts. Anyway if you want to be all cool and swear-y, and sound more native, the phrase is “my foot hurts like hell.” ;)

David Jehn
David Jehn
7 years ago

Regarding ‘sich auf dem Weg machen’:

It is perfectly acceptable English to say that ‘I am making my way towards home’

Also since Roman times the ‘High Road’ has been raised above the surrounding landscape so that it drains properly and so that when you are up on the High Road you can be safer because you can see danger coming.

There is also an expression: to take the high road, meaning that you put yourself above everyone else by your attitude or actions.

I hope this helps.

David

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago
Reply to  David Jehn

Hi David: Your explanation of the expression, “to take the high road” is a little confusing, or at least incomplete. It sounds like you’re saying that it is something a bit selfish, when that is never the case. “To take the high road” means you are given a set of options, and you do not necessarily do what is in your own best interests, but rather, what is the “right” or more “civilized” thing to do. For example, if somebody insults you, and you are more than able to insult that person right back, instead, you “take the high road” and say nothing. This might not be as satisfying, but it is the better, or more admirable thing to do. This doesn’t imply that you have “put yourself above everyone else,” but rather, you chose the morally clearer path when you had other options you could have chosen.

chowgirl
chowgirl
2 years ago
Reply to  alexviajero

This is excellent.

Ross
Ross
7 years ago

Thanks! Sehr hilfreich!

Ross
Ross
7 years ago

Hallo,
Eine kurze Frage:
Is the sich aufmachen still used like a separable prefix verb as usual? So:

•Ich glaub’, ich mach mich mal auf ins Fitnessstudio.

Why wouldn’t “auf” go after “Fitnessstudio” at the end of the sentence?

And, the same here:

•Berlin macht sich auf in die Zukunft.

Why not, “Berlin macht sich in die Zukunft auf.”

I love these short lessons; it helps me retain the information better!

Vielen Dank im Voraus!

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago

Ich fand diese Betrachtungen einigermaßen erleuchtend:
comment image

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Also, ich weiß nicht, was passiert ist, aber versuch mal draufzuklicken.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Und was hältst du von der Erläuterung? :)

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago

“Is it okay to lay down on here? (not idiomatic English… just to illustrate the point)”

It’s idiomatic enough, in the example. However, the verb would be “lie” not “lay” (i.e. to lie down on the mattress)… And not to worry, 50% of native English speakers mix this one up also from time to time, i.e. use “to lay down” instead of “to lie down.” “Lay” is the simple past tense of “lie”. “May I lie on the bed?” “Yesterday, as I lay on the bed, I began to dream…” To lay (present tense) is to place or to put something, somewhere. Simple past of “lay” is “laid.”

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago
Reply to  alexviajero

Quite right. And lay is what a chicken does with an egg… which is putting it somewhere..

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

What makes it even more fun is that in older English there used to be a reflexive “lay” that’s since been replaced by “lie” – you see it in the old bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

That prayer phrase had occurred to me too, but I didn’t know how to reconcile it. I think the explanation that the reflexive use of “to lay oneself” is “old” captures it perfectly.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  alexviajero

OK, y’all’ve asked for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8Y-JjWE3Rw

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago

That. Was. Hilarious! :)

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ich habe eine Transkription gemacht, entspricht sie dem Gesagten?

– Also, ich legte im Bett neben dem Mädchen und…
– Lag.
– Was?
– Du hast im Bett gelegen, nicht gelegt.
– Legen, liegen – wo ist der Unterschied?
– Du legst Eier. Du liegst im Bett. Ich nehme an, du bist kein Vogel oder?
– Jetzt willst du die Geschichte hören oder nicht?`
– Die Sprache richtig zu können ist wichtig.
– Warum magst du ständig auf jedermanns Grammatik kommen?
– Weil ich an die Erhaltung der Reinheit unserer wunderschönen Sprache glaube. Damit wir nicht der Barbarei verfallen.
– Na, dann erzähl ich die Geschichte eben nicht.
– Ich sag dir nur, wenn wir…
– Ach, halt die Klappe.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago

Danke, genau die 2 Stellen wo ich Bedenken hatte.

Gregory Shane Terry
Gregory Shane Terry
7 years ago

sagte er nicht, diesem Mädchen???

mulayamod
7 years ago

Quiet informative as always. It’s nice to read non textbook like writing. Sometimes your blog gets too long to keep reading, but the information keeps me going. Does help me a lot with my German language education. Cheers and keep it going…

berlingrabers
7 years ago

Great series idea!

Just a little quibble:

– I’ll go head out to the gym, I think.

“Go” sounds pretty redundant here. Of course, you could use “going to” future: “I’m gonna head out to the gym.” There’s also “get going,” which emphasizes the departure (like “head out”). You can use “head” by itself as a verb too (same meaning), and pair it with other prepositions:

– After lunch we headed over to the Brandenburg Gate.
– I think I’ll head up to the conference room a few minutes early to get ready for the presentation.

Oh, also, at least for Americans, this is pepperoni, not this.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

And a lot of carnivorous Americans get very confused when their Peperoni pizza shows up here… :)

Absolutely, pronouncing “going to” is perfectly fine and idiomatic as far as it goes, but I think in spoken English it would sound like either (a) you think “gonna” sounds uneducated or something or (b) you want to emphasize “going to” for some reason (e.g. “I really am going to head out to the gym, but I can’t until I finish writing this blog comment”). To me it’s just like a lot of short little English words that almost disappear when they’re not being emphasized (especially by us Amis, sorry):

– I’m going to run to the store for some milk. Can I get you anything?
=> I’m ‘n’a run t’the store f’s’m milk. C’n I getcha anything?

To me, the “going to” future is really pretty universal. Without context, your example sounds very immediate to me: heading out to the gym is what I intend to do right now. Some of that is the verb itself: “head out” really sounds like “leave from here” (or if you’re using it to narrate something from the past, “leave from where one was at the time”), but “going to” future can absolutely mean immediate or very near future.

– I’m heading out to the gym.

…sounds like you’re on your way out and explaining where you’re going.

– I’m going to/gonna head out to the gym.

…sounds a little more like you’re announcing a decision, or that it’s time for something that you’re not already starting to do.

Oddly, I think present tenses tend to feel most like you’re discussing plans farther off in the future.

– I head out in the morning. (sounds like you’re taking a trip)

So sich aufmachen means you have to at least leave the building?

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I feel terribly guilty, but I haven’t yet. No really good excuse, other than that most of the time we’ve been back here it’s been cold/bad weather and/or advanced pregnancy has kept us from being too mobile. I think we’ll be going to a 4th of July cookout there, though, so at the latest we’ll see it then.

Artists’ mini golf? That sounds… very Berlin.

Lucius
Lucius
7 years ago

The verb shorts is a fantastic idea. Thank you so much !!

Dinguslyf
Dinguslyf
7 years ago

Did raufmachen ever have anything to do with darauf, like maybe at some point in the past it was darauf machen. It sort of makes sense like that to me, so I was wondering if it was ever actually like that.

Dinguslyf
Dinguslyf
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It does help, thanks.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Dinguslyf

“Did raufmachen ever have anything to do with darauf”

No, all r-words are based on her.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Dunno, it was like in most serious books on German that I have read. Plus it’s the only explanation that makes sense, Occam’s razor and all that. R-words correspond to her/hin words, not to da-words. An abbreviation for darauf is drauf, ‘d’ is unlikely to go anywhere, whereas the much more “slight” ‘he’ easily will as ‘e’ vanishes in fast colloquial speech. So deriving those from d words introduces an unnecessary and improbable step.

http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/rein_hinein_herein
http://canoo.net/spelling/rein:Adv

PeterB
PeterB
1 year ago

I agree. Let’s also remember that the only reason for “r” in “darauf” is the “a” after “r”. It would be awkward to say “daauf”. But many “da” word do not need “r”: davon, etc.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Wäre es auch richtig, wenn man in deinem Beispiel anstatt rauflegen drauflegen verwendet? Wenn nicht, was wäre der Unterschied zwischen den beiden Verben? Kann man auflegen in dem Zusammenhang überhaupt nicht verwenden? Ich bin mir ziemlich sicher, dass zB. “Darf ich mich auf der Matratze legen” richtig ist, aber “auf der Matratze auflegen” hört sich irgendwie komisch an, wahrscheinlich wegen zweimal ‘auf’.
Übrigens ein toller Eintrag!

scottishjerkycom
7 years ago

Just brilliant. Don’t know where you get your energy. Keep it up. These are excellent.

Cheers

Brian

Tel: 07798 934920

http://www.scottishjerky.com

Beef Jerky from Scotch Beef

Venison Jerky from ‘WILD’ deer

Tasty Toasts from Rye flour

Benjamin
Benjamin
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

How can you not trust a jerky man? Especially one who get’s it from ‘WILD’ deer.

Heide Lee
Heide Lee
7 years ago

wow! super fact sheet. I wish dictionaries were that informative. Love your summer plan.