German Prefix Verbs Explained – “aufnehmen”

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to the never ending story of German Prefix Verbs. Today, we’ll have a look at… what is going on, my voice looks really weird… like a little girl…. … gotta check the mic-settings … uh…   mic  check one two eins zwei.. nah, even worse test testtest test testDaF testicle l teenage mutant ninja testudo … perfect.
I’m just gonna start the recording again… what? … oh, right, I forgot we’re live.
I thought we were recording.
But hey, that actually brings us right to the prefix verb we’ll look at today.

aufnehmen

 

Because recording is one of the contexts it is used for. One of many, many contexts…

Seriously, aufnehmen seems to be quite confusing for many learners. And it’s no wonder either, because the list of translation you get when you look it up online is longer than my toe nail.
MUCH longer!!
But when you look closer you’ll find that aufnehmen is actually pretty coherent because all the many meaning revolve around one core idea:

picking up, taking in something that is out there

Which is also pretty much the literal translation of aufnehmen.
So let’s just go over the various contexts and see how the idea is used.

We already mentioned aufnehmen in sense of to record. Just like in English, where you also say that a mic pics up sound. Only that aufnehmen the standard word. And in fact it’s not limited to audio and video but also works for photos.

  • Thomas nimmt heimlich Marias Duschgesang auf.
  • Thomas secretly records Maria’s shower-singing.
  • Dieses Foto wurde am 6. Februar um 18:03 aufgenommen.
  • This picture was taken on February 6th at 6:03 PM.

By the way, did you know that the word record is related to the word cardio and originally meant something like learn by heart ? I was pretty surprised to find that.
Anyway, from recording something on a tape it’s really not that far to recording something in your brain. Which is also a context where you can find aufnehmen.

  • Maria hat die Nachricht, dass ihr Duschgesang bei Youtube ist, gut aufgenommen.
  • Maria has taken the news that her shower singing is on YouTube well.
  • Kinder nehmen neue Informationen auf wie ein Schwamm.
  • Children absorb/soak up new information like a sponge.
  • Erzähl mir das ein andermal, ich bin grad nicht aufnahmefähig.
  • Tell me some other time, I can’t absorb it/take it in at the moment. (lit.: capable of picking up)

And it makes perfect sense to broaden that idea t for nutrients and other things the body can take in.

  • Neueste Forschungen belegen: Der Körper kann Sprache über die Haut aufnehmen. Eine Deutschcreme ist zur Zeit in Entwickelung.
  • Latest research proves: the body can absorb language over the skin. A German creme is currently in development.

And if it works for an actual body, why not also use it for all kinds of abstract embodiment like countries, corporations or the like.

  • Deutschland hat viele Flüchtlinge aufgenommen.
  • Germany has taken in a large number of refugees.
  • Ich wurde in der WG gut aufgenommen.
  • I was well received/welcomed in the new shared apartment.

Moving in to a new apartment or country is the start of something.  And this notion of starting is also part of the scope of aufnehmen.

  • Die beiden Politiker nehmen die Verhandlungen wieder auf.
  • The two politicians take up negotiations again.
  • Die Aliens versuchen, mit uns Kontakt aufzunehmen.
  • The aliens are trying to get in contact with us.

So… these were the most important contexts of aufnehmen and I hope you could see the basic idea of picking up in all of them.
Now, just to make sure though… aufnehmen is NOT a translation for to pick up. At least not in general. Aufnehmen sounds somewhat slow and sustainable and it doesn’t work for quick pick ups like that girl in that bar the other night… uh… I mean … the waitress … picking up glasses. That’s … what I meant.
Anyways, the noun for aufnehmen is die Aufnahme and it is just as broad as the verb is.

  • Die Aufnahme ist total verrauscht.
  • The recording is full of noise.
  • Die Kamera macht sogar bei wenig Licht noch gute Aufnahmen.
  • The camera takes good pictures even with little light.
    (that doesn’t feel idiomatic to me, native speakers to the rescue :)
  • Nikotin hemmt die Sauerstoffaufnahme.
  • Nicotin inhibits oxygen absorption.
  • Das Chaos heute beim Meeting war nur eine Momentaufnahme. Eigentlich sind wir gut organisiert.
  • The chaos at the meeting today was just a snapshot/impression of the moment. We’re actually pretty organized.
  • Thomas bereitet sich auf die Aufnahmeprüfung vor.
  • Thomas prepares for the entry/admission exam.
  • Maria macht ein Praktikum in der Notaufnahme.
  • Maria is doing an internship in the emergency room.

And boom, there you have it.
That’s aufnehmen in all its breadth and beauty. No mind yoga, everything makes sense. Kind of lame for a prefix verb, right?
Of course, those weren’t all the uses but I’m sure you can figure out any aufnehmen or Aufnahme you’ll see from context.
Well, except this one, maybe.

  • Wenn es um’s Wodka-Trinken geht, kann es Maria mit jedem Mann aufnehmen.

This phrasing, es aufnehmen mit, doesn’t really fit in with the others. The idea is that of taking on, challenging someone or something, being a veritable challenge. English actually has a verbatim translation to take it up with but I’m not sure if they’re really the same. At least, it’s not always a fitting translation.

  • When it comes to drinking vodka, Maria can take on/take it up with any man.
  • Deine Suppe ist gut, aber mit meiner kann sie es nicht aufnehmen.
  • Your soup is good, but it can’t mess with mine.
  • Obwohl mein Hund sehr klein ist, nimmt er es sogar mit Bären auf.
  • Even though my dog is very small, it takes on even bears.

Cool.
Now, there’s one more thing we need to look at and all the prefix verb veterans know exactly what I’m talking about… the r-version.

raufnehmen

There are no surprises here. As usual, the r-version is a super straight forward, location-focused take on the combination of prefix and verb and raufnehmen simply means to take upward or to take on.

  • Der Hipster nimmt sein Rennrad immer mit in die Wohnung rauf.
  • The hipster always takes his racing bike up to his flat.
  • “Herr Fitzsimmons… der letzte Song auf ihrer neuen Platte passt stilistisch überhaupt nicht zu den anderen? Wie kam es dazu?”
    “Sie haben vollkommen Recht. Er ist schlecht. Ich habe ihn dann aber doch mit auf’s Album raufgenommen, weil ich eine Wette verloren habe. Entweder rasieren, oder den Song.”
  • “Mr. Fitzsimmons… the last song on your new record doesn’t fit at all with the others stylistically. How did that come about.”
    “You’re absolutely right. It sucks. I took it onto the album because I lost a bet. It was either shaving or that song.”

Yeah… obviously, I was kind of struggling to find good examples :). Raufnehmen is just not that common.
But the verb aufnehmen itself is super useful and you definitely need to aufnehmen it into your active vocabulary.
And that’s it for today. As always, if you have any questions and suggestions just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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mwdavis.davis
mwdavis.davis
1 month ago

Die Kamera macht sogar bei wenig Licht noch gute Aufnahmen.
The camera takes good pictures even with little light.

I would say “This camera even takes good pictures in low light.”

mwdavis.davis
mwdavis.davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Substitute “low light” for “little light” and yes, it is also acceptable.

My wife (the grammar perfectionist) and I discussed the placement of “even” as to whether it emphasized “taking good pictures” or “low light” and decided it was a distinction without a significant difference.

david_l
david_l
1 month ago

For the example: “Erzähl mir das ein andermal, ich bin grad nicht aufnahmefähig.”

Does this mean they ‘can’t take it’ as in they are emotionally overwhelmed and the bad news is too much to handle? Or does it mean they are ‘not retentive’ as in not able to process/remember information currently because they’re too tired/drunk?

david_l
david_l
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

makes sense thank you!

thank you
thank you
1 year ago

man. i cant thank you enough for this website. brofist from the other side of the screen, and other side of the world.

Alan Evangelista
Alan Evangelista
3 years ago

Very good post, as always. Thanks!

You mentioned that “aufnehmen” is not used in general as “pick up”. In Duden, the meaning 1a of “aufnehmen” is exactly that one, of physically picking up a object: https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/aufnehmen

I suppose you meant “aufnehmen” is not the *most usual* translation of “pick up”. What would that be? aufheben?

daniel
Admin
daniel
3 years ago

Super Post. Ist aber eher B, oder?

chris
chris
4 years ago

Hello, I just came across “entgegennehmen” which seems to be very similar to “aufnehmen”… at least according to Leo. Could you explain a bit the difference? thanks!

Fenix
Fenix
4 years ago

Der Hund hat wieder auf den Boden gepinkelt. Wir brauchen mal einen Aufnehmer.

Chris
Chris
4 years ago

I’ve read it and (also after your comment) it makes much more sense :)

Chris
Chris
4 years ago

Hello, that’s my first post on your blog. I really like the explanation but what I’m missing is the difference between the word “annehmen” which is somewhat similar. Could you explain a bit more? Thanks!

Dave M.
Dave M.
4 years ago

The difference between making an activity and doing an activity could be down to American versus British English. I have heard British kids make a test or exam, American kids take one…

Also, in the sentence Die Kamera macht sogar bei wenig Licht noch gute Aufnahmen. Is there a tone of “suprisingly” here? Like the speaker was not expecting it to work well but it does?

Benjamin Geer
4 years ago

“Der Hipster nimmt sein Rennrad immer mit in die Wohnung rauf.” This sounds like a mixture of “mitnehmen” and “raufnehmen”. What’s the infinitive? “Raufmitnehmen”?

Zettlich
Zettlich
4 years ago

es aufnehmen mit

No English word, but the phrase “is a match for” or “is no match for” is essentially the same thing.

Maria is a match for any man.
Your soup is good, but it is no match for mine.
Even though my dog is small, it is a match for bears.

I think the logic is that the two things match each other, as in a pair.

Personally, I play a lot of video games (Street Fighter!), so when I hear this phrase, I think of something that demands my full effort. Two things are so similar that the outcome is uncertain for both sides, and the only way to find a winner is through competition. In that sense, “you’re no match for me” sounds like “one of us has much more skill than the other. One of us will be bored, the other will think it’s unfair,” and “you are a match for me” sounds like “our skills are equal enough that we will both feel we were tested.”

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
4 years ago
Reply to  Zettlich

I think “is a match for” works well with the Maria-vodka and soup examples, but it doesn’t seem quite active enough for the dog one.

There’s really not an idiom that fits exactly with all of these. “Hold one’s own against” is pretty good:

– Maria can hold her own against any man.
– Your soup can’t hold its own against mine.
– My dog can hold its own against bears.

“Take on” is really fine for the sort of active, “challenging” meaning. “Take it up with” has a different meaning in English, though. I’m trying to think how to describe it – it’s mostly about presenting a complaint to somebody, and it tends to be used when you’re trying to deflect that process away from yourself.

– If you don’t like how I’m doing my job, you can take it up with my supervisor.
– I don’t know why your pay hasn’t been getting deposited on time – you’ll have to take that up with the payroll department.

Zettlich
Zettlich
4 years ago

Das Chaos heute beim Meeting war nur eine Momentaufnahme. Eigentlich sind wir gut organisiert.

The chaos at the meeting today was just a SNAPSHOT/ IMPRESSION OF THE MOMENT. We’re actually pretty organized.

There’s an english word, ‘Glimpse’, that’s perfect for this meaning.

mvdh7
mvdh7
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

As a native English speaker I would assume ‘glimpse’ means you only got to see a small part of the whole thing, and then only briefly

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

As with everything there are seemingly billions of ways to say something, but “in low lighting” sounds most natural to me in a photographic context. Great lesson and good discussions too!

formaneka
formaneka
4 years ago

Oh das habe ich! Danke : )

formaneka
formaneka
4 years ago

Vielleicht erinnere ich mich das Falsch aber hat Aufnahme nicht eine Bedeutung wie “exception” und wenn so, ist diese wort mit die andere Beispiele verwandt? Danke : )

berlingrabers
4 years ago
Reply to  formaneka

Du denkst bestimmt an “Ausnahme”. :)

craig1960
craig1960
4 years ago

Low light, of you’re talking about taking pictures :)

John Medway
John Medway
4 years ago

“Maria is making an internship in the emergency room.” – ich sagte “doing an internship”, nicht “making an internship”. Fraglos habe ich viel über “machen” und “tun” zu lernen.

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

English speaker to the rescue: wenig Licht = dim light.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

That’s going to be “in”. Choice of adjectives: dim; low; or poor. I personally don’t favour “dim” because it already means “low light” by itself (you could say “in dim conditions”) so sticking it front of the word “light” is a just a tiny bit tautologous.

berlingrabers
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

There’s really nothing wrong with saying “dim light” – it feels a bit redundant if you think about it, but it wouldn’t sound odd to me if someone said it. “Low light” is far more idiomatic in a photography context, though.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

As Berlingrabers says there is nothing wrong with “dim light” per se. “Dim light” and “bright light” are good when describing a light source – e.g. “the bulb gave off a dim/bright light”. If dim and bright are being used to describe the light conditions then better to name those conditions – e.g. “a bright morning”, ” a dim stairwell”. Photography considers light conditions as either good or bad, and for bad light conditions the standard term seems to be “in low light”.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

That stairwell example might sound better as “a dimly lit stairwell” or else it might sound a little like the stairwell is unintelligent.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

No one would really think the stairway was unintelligent if you said it was dim, it’s just that “dimly lit” sounds more fitting and “dim” by itself is more commonly used these days to refer to lack of wit than lack of light. A “bright” hallway probably wouldn’t be right if the reason it was bright was electric lighting – then “brightly lit” sounds better. If it’s bright because the sun is streaming through the windows, some of those windows are open and you can hear birdsong, then plain “bright” sounds pretty good.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago
Reply to  aoind

A “bright hallway” could also refer to a cheerful paint colour.

berlingrabers
4 years ago
Reply to  aoind

Yeah, I wanted to bring that up – “bright” means something different in “bright light” than it does in “bright red.”

Agreed with Aoind that “a bright hallway” would really only sound like a physical description, either of color or lighting conditions. But the intelligence meanings of “bright” and “dim” really only make sense when applied to a person (or idea, at least in the case of “bright”), so they wouldn’t come to mind if you describe a place that way unless you forced it…

– We passed from the bright, airy entryway into a stuffy, stupid office.

aoind
aoind
4 years ago

Danke Emanuel für diesen Artikel. Betreffend deine Frage: “bei wenig Licht” = “in low light”. Auch sagt man besser für “über die Haut aufnehmen”: “absorb through/via the skin”. “Over” passt in diesem Sinn nicht.