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 :)

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Marta
Marta
11 months ago

Hello Emanuel-

Just wondering about the construction of how to say “made of” – seems like if you denote the percentage after “aus” you are covered? If not then one uses the “zu” version?

Mein Pullover besteht zu hundert Prozent aus Stein.

Mein Pullover besteht aus hundert Prozent Stein.

Much appreciated!!

maroo
maroo
1 year ago

Hi,
Love your site, always great information.
Been trying to watch Peppa pig to try get German comprehension up (I’m starting A2 self taught). Come across this sentence where I *think* the verb used is bestehen (I have listened to the bit of audio about 30 times now).

Jeder muss ein Versteck finden, bevor Peppa *bestehen* gezählt hat. 

If it is indeed ‘bestehen’ in this sentence… How is it making sense? It seems to mean ‘finished’… I’m trying to understand it as ‘passed the counting part of her turn’ or something like that.

maroo
maroo
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

thank-you so much
She even counts to 10 too….

pjfdixon@gmail.com
pjfdixon@gmail.com
1 year ago

“Es bestand auch wenig Aussicht, eine Stelle zu finden.”
Can I ask how this sentence fits in with your description (there was little prospect of findinga position). By the way, I LOVE this blog…

jmarks
jmarks
1 year ago

Does this silly sentence use the various meanings of bestanden correctly?

Weil unserer, aus Liebe und Respekt bestandene Freundschaft vielen Prüfungen bestanden hat, bestehe ich darauf, dass er tausend Jahren bestanden wird.

Ken
Ken
1 year ago

You’re a hoot, man. So grateful for what you do. Danke!

jgoss1074@gmail.com
jgoss1074@gmail.com
1 year ago

Does “bestehen auf” always take dative when the thing you insist upon is a noun? I’ve seen example sentences elsewhere on the web sometimes using accusative, other times using dative. So it’s not clear to me if some of the examples are wrong or if there is nuance to when dative or accusative should be used…

Sekeeta Crowley
Sekeeta Crowley
2 years ago

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’..

Sekeeta Crowley
Sekeeta Crowley
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

vielen Dank ich werde das alles merken!

Patrick
Patrick
2 years ago

great little piece, could even call it beautiful

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

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

Roger
Roger
2 years ago

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

Tony
Tony
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger

Then emigrate elsewhere, traitor

no brexit
no brexit
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger

@ roger: me too!

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger

: me three!

jdentler89
jdentler89
2 years ago

Nice, I liked this one.

Jake
Jake
2 years ago

Schönheit vergeht, Hektar besteht.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
2 years ago

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?

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
2 years ago

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

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago

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.

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Would using “gegen” instead of the horrible gegangen work. I pulled, bestehen gegen out of nowhere

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
2 years ago

Really interesting, and the examples make the functions memorable.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

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

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago

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
2 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

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
2 years ago
Reply to  coleussanctus

Got it, thanks!

0fqj3
0fqj3
2 years ago
Reply to  coleussanctus

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.