Word of the Day – “gehören”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time, we’ll have a look at the meaning of

gehören

 

Now, if something looks like hören, sounds like hören and smells like hören (you have to take my word for that), then every normal person would assume it will have something to do with hören.
German learners on the other hand get cold sweat. Because they know that it very well might NOT have ANYTHING to do with hören.
Well…  gehören means to belong and today, we’ll find out which mind yoga poses we have to take for this to make sense.
We’ll get a little insight into the prefix that no one even thinks of as a prefix: ge-.  And of course, we’ll learn how to use gehören, lay down some truth about Italian food and wrap up with a catchy ear worm.
Sounds good?
Then let’s jump right in.

And we’ll start with a little time travel. Textbooks probably never told you this (because they don’t know) but a long long time ago, ge- used to be a “normal” prefix just like be- or ver- . So people would add it to a verb (or word) to give a certain twist. The idea that ge- carried was a notion of whole, completion. That notion eventually led to the prefix slowly turning into a grammar vessel that marks the perfect tense, and it also shows in a LOT of other ge-words that we have today. Like Gehirn (brain). Or Geländer (hand rail). Curious?
I’ll talk more about that in my book so I don’t want to go into it too deep today. And yes, I know that I’ve been talking about this book for years now. But it’ll come, I promise!
Anyways, gehören was basically a “more complete” version of hearing. You listening to someone all the time. Like the kind of listening people do with their boss, even if it is nonsense.
There’s a sense of obedience in it.
And while we today are theoretically free to not listen to our boss anymore, this was different in medieval times….

  • The whole country listened to/obeyed the king.
  • The whole country belonged to the king.

These two sentences had a BIG overlap back in the day. And so it makes perfect sense that gehören slowly took on a notion of belonging. The original sense of obedient listening was taken over by gehören’s brother gehorchen; a word that still exists today.

The dog example is actually another really great example for the connection between listening/obeying and belonging. Dogs usually do listen to their owners.
Oh and while we’re at it… it’s not obvious at all but at the core of the word to obey is actually also listening. It is a very “washed out” version of Latin ob-audere which gehört to the family of audio.
Cool.
So now that we know how gehören got its meaning, let’s look at some examples.

Now some of you might be like “Wait, isn’t gehört also the ge-form of hören alone.” And it is. But the cases will clear up which is which. Thanks cases, you guys are awesome!

Hmmm, the second example could be kind of scary… if we were whiny little babies who are scared of  AI. But we’re not! Do you hear me, Deep Mind? You think you’re so deep and smart. Come at us and train your crappy neural network for how failure feels.

"We'll see about that, human!!"

Oh, you bet we will. You’ll be like “Oh please my human overlords, I’m sorry for acting up. I’ll do anything you say. Let me do calculus and manage your fridge for you.” and you’ll know who’s boss once and fo…

"Yeah, whatever... ."

Anyway, let’s get back to examples. Just like to belong, gehören  isn’t limited to actual ownership. It can also express a more general idea of being a part of and the even more general idea of having a place somewhere.

The last example actually has a BIG overlap with the idea of something being customary, or some kind of norm. And that’s actually precisely the idea of the phrase sich gehören. Or its negation sich nicht gehören.

Don’t think too hard about the self reference. I don’t even know if it’s accusative or dative because this phrasing ONLY works in the third person and it almost always comes with es. Just take it as fixed phrasing that talks about something being good or bad manners and remember the pineapple pizza, if you want to know the connection to the normal gehören.
Cool.
Now, of course we need to also mention angehören, the prefix version of gehören. Yup, a prefix version of a prefix version. Basically prefix-ception. Angehören also translates to to belong but it’s limited to the sense of belonging to a family (or tribe). It’s not all that common though.

Nachtschattengewächs... try saying that ten times in a row. The other people in the row will be really confused.
… get it? Wasn’t that hilarious? … yo, why can’t I hear any laughter from you guys? Weird, I usually have a really good sense of hearing. Which in German is das Gehör, by the way. The “whole apparatus” of your hearing, if you remember the core notion of ge- :).

And that’s it for today.
This was our look at the gehören and why it means to belong.
If you want, you can do the little quiz my lovely assistant made and check how much you remember :). There are some tricky ones in there.
And as always, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.
Oh, and here’s a very famous German Schlager to really nail the sturcture :)

0%

Test yourself on "gehören".

What does gehören mean?

How would you translate: "The book belongs to you?"

How would you translate:  "Who owns the dog in front of the shop?" ("to whom does the dog belong")

How would you translate: “Polite service is an essential part of a good restaurant.

How would you translate: "Farting in an elevator is simply bad manners."

What do I have when I can hear a mouse fart?

Your score is

The average score is 65%

 

 

** vocab **

hören – to hear
das Gehör – the sense of hearing, the complete apparatus for it
der Gehörgang – the ear canal
gehörlos (taub) – deaf 
gehörgeschädigt – hearing impaired 

horchen – attentively listen
gehorchen – obey
der Gehorsam – the obedience 
der Ungehorsam – the disobedience

gehören – to belong
sich (nicht) gehören – to (not) be good manners (only used in third person, usually with es)

angehören – belong to (family, cult)
Angehörige(r,n,…) – the relatives (formal word)

for members :)

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aoind
aoind

Nice article! Always wanted to know what the connection was. To the queue-jumper (if I wanted to be rude) I would say “Get to the back of the queue like we all had to”.

Jim
Jim

Es gehört mir. It please me. How does this fit in?

BSDKaffee
BSDKaffee

Are you thinking of gefallen? Es gefällt mir.

Margie
Margie

Are you thinking of “Es gefällt mir”?

Tierwelt108
Tierwelt108

Are you thinking of “gefällt mir”?

Steve R.
Steve R.

I think you’re confusing “gehört” with “gefällt”

Eleanor
Eleanor

Es gefällt mir? ;-)

Rob
Rob

Maybe you mean “es gefällt mir?“

MarcoB
MarcoB

“Ananas gehört nicht auf eine Pizza” – Would you please explain why you used accusative with ‘auf’ in this sentence, instead of ‘auf einer Pizza’? I am confused. :(

HelenE
HelenE

Auf einer Pizza that’s Dativ, auf eine Pizza Akkusativ, I think both are correct but depends on the context. Akkusativ goes with wohin, Dativ with Wo.

Kathe Randa
Kathe Randa

It’s always about the question Wo(dativ) and Wohin (AKKUSATIV).
The interpretation of “auf eine Pizza” is: wohin/ worauf soll ich Ananas nicht legen. That means there is a kind of movement in a direction implemented and so follows an accusative
“Auf eine pizza” would mean: wo soll Ananas nicht sein. Here you ask for a place (ORT) and a Dativ has to follow.
Got it?!

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Same question as MarcoB – warum nicht “auf EINER Pizza” as it is location – dative, not direction.

Lady A
Lady A

Das heißt “Ananas gehören nicht auf einer Pizza.”
“Pineapples don’t belong on a pizza.” Saying “auf eine” instead of “auf einer” would turn it into, “Pineapples don’t belong on to a pizza”, which doesn’t make much sense.
Zum Beispiel, “Ich gehe ins (in das) Zimmer.” “I’m going into the room.”
“Ich bin im Zimmer.” “I’m in the room.” Es ist die gleiche Idee. Into vs in, onto vs on.

Elsa
Elsa

Hallo,
Typos as usual:
“The dog examples” (extra “s” in example)
“Or it’s negation sich nicht gehören” (“its negation”, because the negation gehörts to the phrase sich gehören)
“ONLY works in third person” (in “the” third person)

Your question:
“Hey, go to the end of the line like we all do” (end of the queue, “end of the line” means the end of a process, institution or person). I’d probably say, “hey, get to the end of the queue like everyone else (scowl)”

One request:
Could you write an article on non-separable verb prefixes like be- or ver- and their meaning? If you’ve already written one, I apologise and kindly ask you to provide the link :)

Finally, your wonderful assistant is really, really wonderful!!!! Words cannot describe how much I like her quizz and find it useful!
Bis bald!

Lauren
Lauren

A couple of the typos you saw are just differences in American and British English. In American English “end of the line” would be used instead of “end of the queue” and inserting “the” before “third person” feels natural in this instance.

Source: I was born in the US

Daniel
Daniel

Nice one. How does it relate to both meanings of “aufhören”?

Gorica
Gorica

Hallo! :)
Thanks to the team spirit of this community i am able to enjoy another great article and learn more. <3
I appreciate all the hard work and sacrifice put into this site, so i am spreading some love and support for you all.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Vielen Danke für diesen neuen Unterricht. Ich liebe seher der Questionnaire ( MAG multiple Choice question) am Ende . Ich danke auch deine liebevolle Assistentin . Ich hatte alles richtig gehabt, ausser der 4.Frage .

Hör auf! und Hör zu!!
Hör auf! und Hör zu!!

hören – mit Ohren
to hear – with ear(s)
Haben die alle vielleicht einen hipster Ur-wortstamm aus der nebeligen Teutoberger Wälder Zeitalter?
(Aus der Vorpizza Nachtschattengewächsenlosen europäischen Frühgeschichte)
?

UND gehört “aufhören” als zwar ein ungehorsamer Angehörige, doch irgendwie anbei?

HelenE
HelenE

Wie wär’s mit Behörde? Auch ein interessantes Wort

Daniel Lovick
Daniel Lovick

Dies war ein ausgezeichnete Übung

daschles
daschles

Could you also talk about some of the other hören compounds? The one that always cracks me up is thinking about the difference between Hör auf deinen Vater ! and Hör deinen Vater auf!

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

To the guy that cuts in line: Where I’m from they’d just scream, “Get to the back of the line!”

Yanks aren’t so interested in reminding others of HOW things are done – I’ve noticed that Germans and Swedes are masters in reminding everyone of the rules. Yanks despise authority and find that Rules Are Made to be Broken, unless it affects my friends and me in which case they will tell you how they feel, “Get to the back of the line!”. NO reference to how it’s s’posed to be done or how others do it, just do it ’cause I said so.

Personally, I wouldn’t say anything at all to the Philistine that tries to cut (queue-jump in AE) , he/she would only be demoted to untouchable in my book.

peterlobl

being longing and belonging – all of life is in there.

sie gehört mir vs sie gehört zu mir — with the “zu” is it more she is a piece of me, a complimentary chunk, versus just stating she is a piece of my property, oder ?

there is a riverside scene in “Willkommen bei den Hartmanns” where papa Heiner Lautenbach explains that to their “guest” refugee – how husbands and wives are not objects – but something else. gehören is the star of that moment.

(i saw the film in german so i could just be imagining that altogether…)

english also has the “belong with” – in a “should be” sense.
“she belongs with him” – implying it is proper and just that they are (or ought to be or belong!) together

would you / could you / should you use gehören there as well?

Zuzana
Zuzana

Great work today, I really enjoyed learning this :) Book would be great, I hope it will be available in a print format, not only an e-book, I am a little oldfashioned when it comes to books. Good luck!

crittermonster
crittermonster

Mit dem schlechten Witz: ich bin überrascht, dass du hast den alten Witz nicht benutzt: “(Doctor): Herr X, ich habe hierher etwas schlimm gefunden. Sie haben eine ganze Banane in Ihren Gehörgang feststeckt.” (Herr X):”Eh? Was sagen Sie?! Ich kann gar nichts hören…wegen der Banane”

Manes
Manes

Thank you so much~!! I can now make sense of hearing and belonging to. For the person cutting the line I would first say: “ Excuse me,.“ Then, Go to the end of the line. How entitled do you think you are?“
But that’s just me.

Britt
Britt

I believe you promised us an ear worm?

billyd
billyd

Thanks for the explanation how hoeren (I am at keyboard not set up for German) turned into gehoeren. It is amazing to me how language develops. Great exercise. Question 4 tripped me up. I wished more people observed number 5….

shauser31416
shauser31416

Super Artikel, wie immer. Ich mache gerne die Quizen (pl?)! Deine Assistantin hat viel Talent. Bitte, veröffentlich bald das Buch (ich wachse alt). Naturlich wird es wunderbar sein!

Diego
Diego

Toller Beitrag wie üblich :-) ich bin vor kurzem interessanterweise auf dieses Verb gestoßen und zwar, weil mir gesagt wurde, dass “etw. ZU mir gehört” nicht so oft benutzt wird (also mit Präp. “zu”). Man deutet es in der Regel einfach mit Dativ. Vielleicht habe ich selber auch viel Marianne Rosenberg gehört und habe es daher nachgemacht hehe aber wo liegt dann der Unterschied?

Adya
Adya

No more PDFs??? May i ask why?