Advent Calendar 2019 – “Be-Stand”

“To Bestand”

Hello everyone,

final stretch of this years Advent Calendar and today, behind door 20 is one last preview into the book I will be planning to start resuming working on in 2020.
Kidding. It’s about time and I vow I will get it out there, no matter how half assed it is. Because if it’s good enough for politics, then it is sure good enough for me.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
and with that little jab out of the way, let’s take a look at the meanings and workings of ….

***

bestehen

Stehen means to stand but we’d better get comfy cause this will take a while. Placement verbs are always a bit of a pain but this one is as rife with meanings as an apple tree in fall.
The best way to approach it is boring, dusty Latin. In particular the word “sistere”. “Sistere” expressed the idea to (take a) stand and the stem “sist” is part of many English words like insist or exist.
How does that help with bestehen? Well, bestehen, in combination with various prepositions, just happens to be a translation for not all but many of them.
Here they are:

bestehen exist, or better: be in existence
Works best with abstract things like organizations, regulations or friendships but can also be used for buildings. Not for small items like a car or a camera though. Those are just not massive enough.

bestehen aus to consist of.
Used mainly for material.

bestehen aufto insist, to make a stand
Note that you have to insist on something in German, you cannot just insist.

bestehen (+accusative) – to prevail for any kind of test or challenge.
The connection here is “to persist”. This meaning is especially common in context of tests and exams.
A more visual approach would be that old pose of triumph. The knight puts his foot on the slain dragon.
He literally “inflicts standing”. The knight is you, the dragon is the test on adjective endings.

Looking at all these, we can see that in German, it’s the preposition that defines the meaning, in English it’s the prefix. But the core idea is always standing in the sense of being in place.

  • Ich habe den Test bestanden.
  • I passed the test.
  • Ich bestehe auf einem Re-Fill.
  • I insist on a refill.
  • Okay, wenn du darauf bestehst.
  • Fine, if you insist.
  • Mein Pullover besteht zu hundert Prozent aus Stein.
  • My pullover is made a hundred percent from stone.
    (and this example is clearly doesn’t “bestehen aus” sense ;)
  • Der Ponyverein feiert 100-jähriges Bestehen.
  • The pony club celebrates its 100th anniversary.

related words:

der Bestand – the stock, the inventory, the continued existence; the idea is “What’s there”
beständig – steady, consistent, stable

***

Let me know in the comments, if you have any questions.
Have a great day and bis morgen :)

for members :)

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Elsa
Elsa

Hi,

Don’t wanna be a Grinch, but here are the typos:
“resumming” (resuming)
“as an an apple tree” (one “an”)

So is “bestehen zu” used as “bestehen aus”, but for small things, like the Pulli in your example?
Bis morgen!

coleussanctus
coleussanctus

It’s still “bestehen aus,” it’s just that it’s split up by “zu hundert Prozent.” The “aus” has to be there, but it’s free to move around a little. The most important information in the sentence is, what is the sweater made of (aus Stein), so that goes to the end. How much of that material the sweater is made of is kind of interesting, but we could leave it out, so it comes earlier (zu 100%, zu 50%, etc.). It’s a similar idea to a separable verb with the preposition going all the way to the end. Except here the preposition has to answer a question (what is it made of), so the preposition is second to last and the most important piece of information is, as usual, dead last. Even if the sweater is made of something less shocking than stone.

English is just different because the preposition wants to stick very tightly to the verb. “Made of” is a whole unit and nothing can come between the pieces. So it can feel kind of unnatural to divide them at first, but it’s fun to play around with once you get used to it.

Elsa
Elsa

Got it, thanks!

0fqj3
0fqj3

Not to undercut your well-posed insights, but I believe that what Emanuel was referring to was that the idea of a sweater made of 100% stone was nonsensical, not the appearance of the preposition “zu” instead of “aus” which, as you pointed out, eventually makes its appearance.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I also heard of ‘bestehen in’, which is sort of ‘bestehen aus’, but for abstract concepts.

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

Really interesting, and the examples make the functions memorable.

Turtles
Turtles

The wisdom of Turtles is here

Ich bestehe darauf, dass Einhörner bestehen, Und sie nicht auf kinder Träume bestehen. Sie haben gegangen Herausforderungen bestanden

Notes

Is not “sein aus” or just aus more idiomatic than bestehen auf.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Ich möchte ein nützliches Wort dieser Familie suggerieren, nämlich, Gegenstand (m) . Zum Beispiel Gegenstand einer Klage vor eines Gericht.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Thanks! This one gives me a better Gefühl for the “Ich habe bestanden” in regards to exams. Obviously, everyone that passes says this with a whoop whoop but now I know it’s more about prevailing than simply getting a passing grade. It really is all about feeling, isn’t it?

Jake
Jake

Schönheit vergeht, Hektar besteht.

jdentler89
jdentler89

Nice, I liked this one.

Roger
Roger

I apologise for Brexit. I am ashamed to be British.

Tony
Tony

Then emigrate elsewhere, traitor

no brexit
no brexit

@ roger: me too!

Elsa
Elsa

@roger: me three!

Anonymous
Anonymous

How about My pullover consists of a hundred percent…true to the sistere root.

Patrick
Patrick

great little piece, could even call it beautiful

Sekeeta Crowley
Sekeeta Crowley

Guten Morgen und danke vielmals fuer die emails. Sie sind sehr lustig und informative. Aber zu meine Frage. . wie sagt man “I insist (in the nicest possible way of course) on paying for the coffee/meal”?
Ich bestehe auf den Kaffee bezahlen?
Ich bestehe auf bezahlen, den Kaffee?
Ich kann nicht entscheiden..der erste Satz scheint mir grammatisch besser aber der zweite gibt mehr Betonung auf ‘bezahlen’..