Prefix Verbs Explained – “die Ausnahme”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: September 15, 2022

ausnahme-german-exceptionHello everyone,

and welcome to a new episode of our summer series about German prefix verbs. This time we’ll have a look at a verb that is one of the main reasons why language learning can suck. Get ready for a look at the meaning of the verb

die Ausnahme

Wait… this is weird. I … I thought verbs don’t have articles. Is this one an excepti… what? … oh… ohhhh…  a noun… haha… right, I just thought… uh… I… let’s just move on. Die Ausnahme is a of course a noun, and having it as the topic for a prefix verb short is an exception. But there’s a good reason. Ausnahme is an exception indeed. In fact, it is THE exception.

  • Grammatik-Regel Nummer 1: Zu jeder Regel gibt es eine Ausnahme. Auch zu Regel Nummer 1.
  • Grammar-Rule number 1: To every rule, there’s an exception. Including rule number 1.

And guess what… exception and Ausnahme are the EXACT same word. In exception we have the prefix ex, which just like aus expresses outside-ness, and we have  “cept” which comes from the Latin word capere and that word meant… to take. Just like nehmen, which is the base for “nahme”. So…. both literally mean take-out. They’re just not a tasty take-out from the deli but the nasty take-out from a rule…. or some regularity.

  • Deutsch hat garnicht so viele Ausnahmen, wie viele denken.
  • German doesn’t have as many exceptions as many believe.
  • Eigentlich esse ich kein Fleisch aber heute mache ich mal eine Ausnahme.
  • Normally, I don’t eat meat but today I’ll make an exception.

Now, there are two related words to Ausnahme that express the same idea. The first  is  ausnahmweise.  It is super uber common and means something along the lines of by way of exception or as an exception.

  • Kind:     “Kann ich noch fernsehen?”
    Mutter: “Ok, aber nur ausnahmsweise.”
  • Kid: “Can I watch TV a little longer?”
    Mother: “Okay, but it’s an exception.”

I guess, we should note that ausnahmsweise does NOT mean exceptional(ly) in sense of exceptional quality. That would be expressed by other words.

  • Deine Suppe war ausnahmsweise gut.
  • Your soup was good for once/for a change.
  • Deine Suppe war außergewöhnlich/extrem gut.
  • Your soup was exceptionally good.

All right.
The second useful word is ausgenommen.  You’d use that to exclude items from a list … like save, excluded, other than or apart from. Kind of like the fancier brother of ausser. It sounds fancier and it has the fancier grammar because it can be placed before AND after the stuff it exempts.

  • Alle auf Arbeit, (ausgenommen) Thomas und Maria ausgenommen, sind Idioten.
  • All the people at work except for Thomas and Maria are idiots.
  • Was ist euer Lieblingsgetränk, Bier mal ausgenommen?
  • What’s your favorite drink – apart from beer, I mean?

Now, ausgenommen is not just some random word. It’s actually the ge-form of the verb ausnehmen. Which brings us to the big question… what’s up with that? What’s up with ausnehmen?
The answer to that is … not much.
It is used in sense of excluding, exempting….but not in daily talk. Only in beautiful sentences like this one:

  • Nach Angaben der Zeitung erwägt der Gesetzgeber die Anbieter von offenem, kostenfreiem W-LAN von der Haftung für durch die Nutzer begangene Urheberrechtsverletzungen auszunehmen.
  • According to the newspaper, the legislature deliberates to exclude wlan supplier from liability for copy right violations committed by the user.

Oh and besides that, ausnehmen is also the  technical term for to gut and to gill

  • Ich habe noch nie einen Fisch ausgenommen.
  • I’ve never gilled a fish.

but unless you’re a hunter, a fisherman or a journalist you will not need ausnehmen like ever. Seriously… I’m pretty sure I haven’t used it in years – the one time I needed it in context of Fisch ausnehmen mal ausgenommen ;).
All right. What I do use though is the r-version.


This r-version is no exception at all. As usual, it takes the combination of verb and prefix as literally as possible. Rausnehmen means to take something out of something.

  • Thomas geht zum Kühlschrank und nimmt sich ein Bier raus.
  • Thomas goes to the fridge and takes out a beer (for himself).
    (the self reference is not needed but very idiomatic)

  • Der Autor hat den komischen Abschnitt wieder rausgenommen.
  • The author has taken  the weird paragraph back out.
  • Maria nimmt über Nacht ihr Piercing raus.
  • Maria takes out her piercing for the night.

It is also used in the somewhat abstract phrasing sich das Recht rausnehmen  (lit.: take out the right for oneself) and the shortened version sich etwas rausnehmen which both express the idea of (self righteously) allowing yourself some freedom that others don’t quite agree with.

  • 1 Euro extra für 3D, 1 Euro extra für IMAX, 1 Euro extra für Überlänge und jetzt noch 1 Euro extra weil’s in Farbe ist? Echt unglaublich, was sich die Filmindustrie rausnimmt.
  • 1 extra Dollar for 3D, 1 extra Dollar for IMAX, 1 extra dollar for extra length and now 1 Dollar because it’s in color.  It’s incredibly what the movie industry has the guts for/dares to do.

  • Ja, ich habe den Verkäufer angemotzt. Aber als hochschwangere kann man sich das ruhig mal rausnehmen.
  • Yes, I did bitch at the person at the cash register. But as when you’re heavily pregnant I think you‘re kind of entitled to that.

All right.
And I think that’s it for today.
This was our Prefix Verb Short and it was an exception because we looked at the noun die Ausnahme which is what we love most about languages…. an exception. The r-version is also pretty good to know but verb ausnehmen itself not useful at all and it’s enough to understand it from context.
As always, if you want you can take the little quiz I have prepared for you. And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions or if you want to share your favorite exceptions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.


**  die Ausnahme – fact sheet  **


based on:
ausnehmen – to exclude, to exempt, to gut (only in official language and when hunting or fishing)

related words:
ausnahmsweise – as an exception, by way of exception, for once … NOT exceptionally in sense of outstanding quality
ausgenommen – apart, except, (rare)
rausnehmen – to actually  take out something from something
der Ausnahmezustand – emergency rule, state of emergency
ausnahmslos – without exception


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