German Prepositions Explained – “aus”

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to German is Easy – your favextrorite German learning blog ever.
Do you guys know what spaced repetition is?
It’s this algorithm that most vocabulary trainers have that brings back a word right before you forget it.
Well, here at Yourdailygerman, I’m one step ahead of course. I am using an EXTREMELY Spaced Repetition System™.
What’s great about this system is nothing, so that’s pretty cool.
And today, I’ll bring back a series that you were about to forget even existed. Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for

German Prepositions Explained.

Hooray. It is back.
As usual in this series, we’ll take one preposition and look at it from all angles. And today, we’ll take a thorough look at the meaning of

aus

 

First, we’ll look at it as a proper preposition, then we’ll check out how that changes when it is a prefix and finally, we’ll look at the most important VPCs, verb preposition combos and see if there possibly is some inner logic to them.
Lots to do, so are you ready to jump in?
Perfect.

“aus” as a preposition

Aus is of course the German brother of out, and they do have the same core idea of “outward, outside“.
And while out needs to team up with of or from to actually function as a preposition, German aus doesn’t need any extra help.

  • Ich gucke aus  dem Fenster.
  • I look out the window.
    (One of the few examples where out alone is a proper preposition)
  • Thomas kommt aus der Bar.
  • Thomas comes out from the bar.
    (Thomas exits the bar.)
  • Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Ich nehme mir ein Bier aus dem Kühlschrank.
  • I’m taking a beer out of the fridge.

If we look at the examples a little closer, we can see that aus is always followed by a dative case. And even if you find cases confusing, an effective way to remember this is that it’s mostly either aus dem or aus der. Or aus den, if you have a plural. But there will NEVER be aus die or aus das, so if you catch yourself saying or writing that, it’s definitely 100% wrong.
And the same goes for aus eine and aus ein. Those are also 100% wrong.
Of course, you’d still need to know the gender of a word to get it 100% correct, but at least this way, you can eliminate a few options and make the right guess more often.

Now, the examples we had so far had an undertone of exiting, leaving – leaving the bar, leaving the mind, leaving the fridge.
But you see … nothing ever really leaves the universe, and exiting one space or state means entering another.
When you exit one “space” (or state), you automatically enter another. So the notions of out and in are ultimately just different sides of the same coin and a matter of perspective. I mean… just take the phrase out into the sun.

And so it makes perfect sense, that the idea of outward has a notion of leaving, but it also has a notion of entering, emerging.
And so it makes perfect sense that aus is also used for the notion of origin.
That can be geographical origin –  for cities, countries and regions, where English uses from.

  • Maria kommt aus Berlin.
  • Maria is from Berlin.
  • Diese Gewürzmischung ist aus Norwegen.
  • This spice mix is from Norway.
    (Lit.: out of Norway)

And it can also be “material” origin.

  • Mein Pullover ist aus Wolle.
  • My pullover is made from/out of wool.
    (German doesn’t use “made” here, just sein)
  • Woraus/aus was ist dieser Gin gemacht?”
    Aus Einhorntränen.”
  • “What is this gin made from.”
    From/out of unicorn tears.”

And it even works in the context of the “origin” of our actions – the cause.

  • “Wie war deine Zeit im Lockdown?”
    “Ufff… ich habe aus Langeweile angefangen, Deutsch zu lernen.”
    “Oh wow, so schlimm?”
  • “How was your time under lock down?”
    “Ooph… I started learning German out of boredom.”
    “Oh wow, so bad?”

For many, the German learning that they started out of boredom would generate even more boredom, but not for us here, because we’re on the German funbus …

And the next stop of our tour today will be… aus as a prefix.

“aus” as a prefix

So far we’ve learned that the core idea of aus is outward and that that can be about leaving, exiting, but also about origin, emerging.
And both are also present in aus as a prefix.
But as most prefixes, aus feels a calling to get creative with its themes, like they all went to art school or something.
“We did go to art school, fyi, and in our work as prefixes, we explore the fringes of what’s possible with the core th… “
Yeah, yeah, whatever… you do know that’s quite confusing for learners, right?
“Art is supposed to be confusing, it’s our job to subvert expectations!”
Oh man, German prefixes… the Rian Johnsons of language.
They really do subvert expectations, and aus is a great example.

Take ausgehen for instance.
The most logical, straight forward meaning we can make with the core theme of aus is “to go out(side)”.
But it does not mean that. Because as is the case with many prefix verbs, the most “intuitive” or “logical” meaning is left to what I call the r-version. If you’re new here, you’ve probably never heard of that, because textbooks and courses usually don’t give this much attention.
But you’ve certainly seen many r-versions in the wild, because many prefix verbs have one and they’re ESSENTIAL if you want to speak idiomatic German.
For ausgehen, the r-version is rausgehen and THAT’S what we need for the idea of simply going out(side).

  • Die Bar ist zu voll. Lass uns rausgehen.
  • The bar is too crowded. Let’s go outside.

ausgehen would sound REALLY strange in this context and it’s the same for many many verbs with aus as a prefix – particularly those that are about movement, but also other ones. The most literal meaning will be covered by the r-version.

  • to pull something out – etwas rausziehen (not ausziehen)
  • to take something outetwas rausnehmen (not ausnehmen)
  • to look outside  – rausgucken (not ausgucken)
  • to jump outsiderausspringen (not ausspringen)
  • to come out rauskommen (not auskommen)

And even though it’s just one letter … this initial “r” makes a HUGE difference to the brain of a native speaker. So if you say aus instead of raus, it sounds very wrong. I mean, people will most likely understand what you’re trying to say, but no guarantee and it sounds really bad.

So this whole notion of r-versions is really useful and I recommend that you try and build an understanding and feeling for it.

But now let’s look at what aus itself actually does as a prefix. And as I said, it does have the core theme of outward – but it sure  does get creative with it.
Sometimes, it’s just a little twist, or a limitation to a certain “domain” or context.

  • Maria zieht morgen aus.
  • Maria is moving out tomorrow.
    (specific context of moving out of an apartment)
  • Ich lasse eine Übung aus.
  • I skip one exercise.
    ( “leave  out”)
  • Thomas kann seine Gefühle nicht gut ausdrücken.
  • Thomas can’t express his feelings well.
    (“out-press/express”)
  • Thomas hat in Italien viel Geld für Essen ausgegeben.
  • Thomas spent  a lot of money for food in Italy.
    (“gave out”)
  • Der Künstler stellt seine Skulptur aus.
  • The artist shows/exhibits his sculpture.
    (“put out”)

Sometimes, it’s a little less intuitive what the aus does exactly.

  • Mein Deutschkurs ist heute ausgefallen.
  • My German class was cancelled today.
    (“fell out”)
  • Maria sieht sehr gut aus.
  • Maria looks very good.
    (“looks out” … as in “the looks she puts out”, I guess)
  • “ich” ist für viele Lerner schwierig auszusprechen.
  • “ich” is difficult to say/pronounce for many learners.
    (“speak outward”… no real reason why it has to be “aus”, it just ended up that way)

And sometimes, we need serious mind yoga to see the connection.
Like … why on earth did ausgehen von end up with the meaning to assume.

  • Ich gehe davon aus, dass Thomas zu spät kommt.
  • I assume/presume that Thomas will be late.

The logic here is that the assumption I make is kind of my “base”. I don’t know for fact that it’s the right base, but I’ll take it and from there, I “venture out” into the future. Can you see how this ties in with the core sense of origin that we had? The assumption is the “origin” for my actions.

Now, please note that most of these aus-verbs have SEVERAL meanings, each with a different twist.
ausziehen for example doesn’t only mean to move out, it also means to take off clothes.

But looking at these double or triple meanings for each verb in detail would be just too long for this article. The goal here is a broad overview, after all.
But I have actually written dedicated articles about some of the most important aus-verbs like ausgehen, ausfallen, ausgeben and more (I’ll leave a link to the archive below) and most of the others you can find in my dictionary/search. So if you have a question about a specific one, let’s clear that up in the comments there.

But for a full picture of the prefix aus, there is a couple of themes that we need to mention.

And that’s where we’ll pick up in part two.
Booooh, I know, you want it all now.

But we don’t only have the stuff about the prefix – I also want to go over the aus-family real quick with words like aussen, ausserhalb, draussen, raus and außer and all in all it would be a LOT to digest for one session.

So yeah, let’s take a break here and come back to part two with new energy.

As usual, if you want to recap a little just take the little quiz I have prepared for you.
And of course, if you have any questions about aus so far, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

 

further reading:

Prefix Verbs Explained – Series Archive

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Tomasz
Tomasz
3 months ago

Thanks for many good articles.

What’s the difference between „aus Berlin” and „von Berlin aus”. Is the first kind of fixed and the latter for the current moment/one-time situation?

Tomasz
Tomasz
3 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes, it helps, thanks.
The first is very clear, the „von..aus” is a bit less natural for me.
So let me ask even more in details why/when the „aus” is needed at all when one uses „von”.
„von” indicates a starting point and „aus” adds the fact of leaving the place, but the destination is unclear/unimportant (at least to the end of the sentence :)

If I changed the word sequence in your example to: „Von Berlin bis Dresden ist es nicht weit”, you would skip „aus”, wouldn’t you?

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

Ich habe nichts würdiges anzubieten außer der Ausrede zu schreiben:
“DB Cooper ist aus dem Flugzeug mit seinem Fallschirm rausgesprungen.”

lisa
lisa
4 months ago

I have just got to say, you are REALLY entertaining. That little bus with the yelling kids thing — hilarious. Thanks for making this such fun.

Rebeca Vega
Rebeca Vega
4 months ago

Hallo zusammen!
Mein name ist Rebeca und ich komme aus Mexiko, Ich möchte “to say xD” vielen Dank “to everyone who helped me to have” ein Subskription, die preis hier “of everything had increased and I really really wanted to say “thanks to all”

fipula
fipula
4 months ago

Can we say, that “aus” refers to figurative phrases, while “raus” refers to literal phrases?
By the way: Some prefixes in German are used in the same way as in Polish (including “aus”). If someone from Poland reads your blog, they must have noticed it too. This is a little bit strange as Polish belongs to a different linguistic group, and yet in this respect it is more similar to German than English.

fipula
fipula
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

No, there is no such distinction (aus-raus), and in Polish it sounds good in both ways, figurative and literal. And also all of the verbs with prefixes are non-separable (that’s why I find the German version really strange – if I wanted to separate the prefix from the stem of the verb in Polish, it would sound very strange).

fipula
fipula
4 months ago
Reply to  fipula

Ask Janusz about it when you see each other :)

fipula
fipula
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thank you, I’ve been reading this topic for a few days (prefixes).
PS. Capitalism and communism? Which one wins? He surely remembers “those times” very well, so I can guess …

fipula
fipula
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Contrary to appearances, socialism and communism do not have much in common. But maybe let’s leave it for later …

Kevin
Kevin
4 months ago

Whenever you mention unicorns in your blog, I can’t help but think of Schwäbisch Hall!

Victorsha
Victorsha
4 months ago

Hey German learning folks :)

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Emanuel who gave the access to the platform and to those kind people that donated some extra money so that he could make it available for those who can’t, for different reasons, afford it (hopefully temporarily).

Brianba
Brianba
4 months ago

Man I love you. Thanks for the subscription <3

Jamie
Jamie
4 months ago

“schwierig auszusprechen” ist für viele Lerner schwierig auszusprechen.

Verne
Verne
4 months ago

There is a special flavor in English where “out of” is used to specify a person’s point of origin, rather than “from.” Sportscasters: “And here comes the big man, James Worthy, out of Gastonia, North Carolina…”

aoind
aoind
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I don’t think it’s commonly used, at least not in England that I’m aware. It has a familiar ring though, possibly due to transatlantic osmosis or because it is habitually used in some other corner of Britain or Ireland. It’s not listed as a meaning of the phrase “out of” in the Oxford English Dictionary anyway.

Last edited 4 months ago by aoind
GoodFoodie
GoodFoodie
4 months ago
Reply to  Verne

Yes “out of NC” is slang in certain parts of the US.
There is also another American phrase: He is totally out of it = he is so drunk/stoned he doesn’t know what’s going on. :)

christopherhsaia02
christopherhsaia02
4 months ago

Wool, not Whool, and I could not figure out how to match up the English and German words in the table. :(

pmccann
pmccann
4 months ago

That *should* be just dragging and dropping: works fine in my browser ;-)

Karla
Karla
4 months ago

“with all its siblings like outside, outside, outside, outside and so on.” This made me laugh out loud!!!

Tatiana
Tatiana
4 months ago

I like the new article very much! Many many thanks!

Elsa
Elsa
4 months ago

Oh, I just got the email and want to ask where’s the article about spring blues? Or are you joking? Because I get them, I have something called reverse SAD (seasonal affective disorder), reverse meaning that most people get it in the Autumn, I get it in the Spring!
I try to counteract by going on holiday, which is what I’m doing right now, only this time I actually bought a Notebook so I can work as well :)

Elsa
Elsa
4 months ago

Hello,
pmccann got ahead of me :)
But there’s one more:
“I am using a EXTREMELY Spaced” (I am using an EXTREMELY Spaced)

Is there a similar trend with rein as there is with raus?
Bis bald!

Gouda rhymes with chowda
Gouda rhymes with chowda
4 months ago

; “I had to hire Blade to find him.”
: “At least you got your ginzus back.”
; “Yeah, but I’m out 400 bucks.”

Wondering if “out” is a preposition here, or is it part of the verbal “to be out” with a direct object?
Not sure it matters much or if it’s related to deutsch lernen, but it might be.

Thanks for the nice article auf jeden Fall.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
4 months ago

I think it might be an adjective. “Am” is a linking verb, it’s like an equals sign that connects “I” to something that describes me (losing $400 is a quality that I currently have).

But when I go through the adverb questions (when, where, how, why, to what extent), I think it could also be an adverb. “How” can be used to ask for a state or condition. You could ask “how are you” – in the state or condition of having lost $400.

I found one source that calls it an adjective. Collins Dictionary, ctrl+F “financial.” But I think the meaning is similar to “completely used.” The $400 is used up, spent, gone. Cambridge Dictionary says “out” is an adverb or an adjective in this situation.

Going off my gut feeling, I could see “to be out X” as a phrasal verb that means “to have lost a certain amount of money.” Didn’t find any sources on this though.

Now that I think about it, “out” is a very versatile word. It can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or preposition, and the meaning is really context specific. For example:

  • He’s out (of the closet): adjective, a quality that describes him
  • He’s out (of the office for lunch): adverb that tells his location
coleussanctus
coleussanctus
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yeah :) I’m not always a fan of sorting words into specific buckets, but I was surprised to find an example in English where the line is blurry between adjective and adverb.

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
4 months ago

Small point that might be of interest. In English it is ‘look out of the window’.
However the US version is quite common – but makes me cringe a bit.
Audios worked beautifully.

Starbuck
Starbuck
4 months ago

What region are you from? I agree grammatically it “should” be “look out of the window”, but I would more often than not say “out the window” and skip the “of”. I’m from Berkshire but also lived in Gloucestershire for a few years and Norfolk for a decade. I’m thinking maybe it’s a regional difference?

Bissell
Bissell
4 months ago

For me, only the very first audio example played at the normal playback level. All the others were very soft. Hmmm. Thank you for the article.

Bissell
Bissell
3 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It was not loud enough. With the new/improved comments search I’m going back and finding comments and questions I had : ). HOWEVER, I just checked again here and all the audio is good. Plenty loud and clear. Ich bin Professor und mein Specialgabiet is Tonteknik. Wie sagt man “it is too soft” auf Deutsche? Ich glaube nicht “es ist zu weich”. Vieliecht “es ist nicht genug laut”? Übringens, “weich” ist mein Deutsches Lieblingswort. Es klingt wie ist es.

pmccann
pmccann
4 months ago

Happy to report that (for maybe the first time ever) I actually knew pretty much all of the content in this one already, and consequently aced the test. Also happily resigned to being slapped in the face and utterly gobsmacked by what’s coming in part two.

[[Als der frühe Vogel, darf ich mich an die leckeren Würme laben, nämlich an den kleinen Fehlern im Artikel.]]

Lot’s (to do) => Lots to do

German brother out => German brother of out

Thomas exists the bar => Thomas exits the bar

would turn out to be even bigger boredom => would generate even more boredom ((or something similar… “to be even more boring” doesn’t really translate well to the “nounified” version of boredom.))

(In the quiz): “whool” => “wool”

pmccann
pmccann
4 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielen Dank für die sehr freundlichen Worte, und die kleine Korrektur. (Ich werde tatsächlich rot, trotzt und nicht *wegen* des Fallfehlers!)

Elsa
Elsa
4 months ago
Reply to  pmccann

Oi, mate, you’re stealing my job!!!
Joking, obviously :))))

pmccann
pmccann
4 months ago
Reply to  Elsa

Yeah, sorry ’bout that: low hanging fruit, and all that. Or, perhaps…

Wenn die Katze aus dem Haus ist, tanze die Mäuse auf dem Tisch :-)

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 months ago
Reply to  pmccann

tanze → tanzen