Prefix Verbs Explained – “vorschlagen”

Hello everyone, 

and welcome to our German Word of the Day.
This time we will look at the meaning of:



Now, if you’ve read a few entries of my (absolutely amazing and never ending) prefix verb series, you might mentally get ready for a bunch of wild, twisted meanings. But I have good news for you, because vorschlagen actually has only one meaning.
And this meaning is… drumroll…

to suggest

Suggest comes from the Latin suggerere. That is a combination of sub, which expresses the idea of under and the old Latin gerere which was about carrying, bringing and which is for instance the origin of gesture.  The original sense of suggerere was pretty broad but “laying down” and idea was part of it, and that made its way into many European languages as to suggest. German, too, has its own version suggerieren, but this one is somewhat of a false friend because suggerieren is a very subliminal way of manipulating someone into thinking something. Like, you plant a seed without the person noticing.
Anyway, now let’s get to vorschlagen and I am sure some of you know that schlagen is the German word for to beat, to punch.
So yes… the German word for to suggest basically is “to slap in front”. Like… boom, here’s my idea.  Think of a Germanic tribesman slamming his horn of beer on the table “Folks… let’s do some calligraphy!”
Meh… not sure if that’s what they’d suggested, but you get the idea :)

  • Der Chef schlägt eine Pause vor.
  • The boss suggests a break.
  • Ich schlage vor, zu laufen, weil der Bus eh erst in 20 Minuten kommt.
  • I suggest to walk, cause the bus won’t come until in 20 minutes anyway.
  • Ich habe vorgeschlagen, dass wir uns um 10 vor der Bar treffen.
  • I suggest that we meet at 10 in front of the bar.

It is not important what you suggest, even if it’s a massage with feather to your crush… in German, you’ll “smash it in front” of them.

Now let’s look at these examples again, through the lense of grammar (yawning increases). We can see, that vorschlagen works with things (first sentence), actions (second sentence) and fully grown sentences (third sentence). The suggestion has the role of a direct object, so if it’s a think, like in the first sentence, then it’ll be in Accusative.
The person to whom you suggest something is the indirect object, so that’ll be in Dative. There’s actually no example for that yet, so here you go…

  • Ich habe dir das letzte Woche vorgeschlagen.
  • I suggested that to you last week.

The first example shows you that schlagen is one of those verbs with a changing vowel for du and er, and the third example also shows the spoken past. It is built with haben and the ge-form vorgeschlagen. If you want to sound funny, you can use the real past in spoken language the stem is schlug.

  • Was schlugst du vor?
  • What did you suggest?

Yeah, that really sounds stupid… anyway.
The corresponding noun to vorschlagen is der Vorschlag, the plural of which is die Vorschläge.

  • Maria fand meinen Vorschlag nicht so gut.
  • Maria didn’t like my suggestion that much.

And to wrap this up, I wanna talk to you about the second meaning vorschlagen could have if it weren’t for one sad fact of nature….

So imagine you are planning to make a fancy cake that afternoon but you kind of feel like you should prepare something already in the morning. You have not done your groceries yet so all you have for your cake is cream. Now cream is treated badly in England and Germany… maybe because some health fanatics managed to suggerieren to people that cream makes one fat (note the correct use of the German suggerieren )… so anyway, cream has to pay for its calories. In English speaking countries it gets whipped all the time, and in Germany we prefer the dull way… we beat it. So you want to prepare something for your afternoon-baking and all you have is cream, you could whip that in advance … pre-whip it if you will and that would be in German:

  • Die Sahne vorschlagen.

But sadly sadly the freaking cream won’t stay stiff so it makes no sense to whip it in advance.
And if you’re now like… “Wait, I feel lik I just wasted 30 seconds of my time thinking about this.” then you#re totally right :). Why not waste some more by leaving a comment – I think vorschlagen is pretty clear, but you could try out some examples, or just let us know how your day went today. Mine was okay-ish, though I have a sour throat and it’s like the 10th time I’m worried of having Covid since this whole mess started.
Anyway, that’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed it, have a great week and see you next time. 

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5 months ago

Ich schlage dir vor, Covid Testen zu kaufen. Wann du Angst hast, kannst du immer selber zuhause Test zu machen. Ich hoffe, dass du gesund bleibst.

6 years ago

Ich spreche nur etwas Deutsch, aber einige wichtige Worte kenne ich, zum Beispiel, “Schlagsahne.” Gleich denke ich, kann Mann nicht “Ich schlage die Schlagsane vor?” sage?

6 years ago

Ich habe eine Frage über der Übersetzung von “suggest”. Ich glaube “suggest” heißt beide vorschlagen und suggerieren, aber hat vielleicht auch andere Bedeutungen. Ich glaube vorschlagen ist nur die richtige Übersetzung, wenn man “suggest” mit “propose” ersetzen kann. z.B.

-Ich schlage vor, wir gehen morgen zum Strand.
-I suggest/propose we go to the beach tomorrow.

Aber auf Englisch, kann man auch sagen
-The artist’s use of color suggests to me exactly the feeling of wanting to eat carrots, but only having asparagus. (i.e. suggest is like “evoke” in this context)
-Die Verwendung von Farben der Künstlerin suggeriert (?) mir das genaue Gefühl, das ich bekomme wenn ich Möhren essen will, aber nur Spargel habe.

-Overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that climate change is real, but the internet thinks otherwise.
-Mächtige wissenschaftliche Beweis suggeriert/deutet dahin (?), dass Klimaänderung echt ist, aber das Internet stimmt nicht genau zu.

-Are you suggesting (i.e. insinuating) that I lied to you about my infatuation with stinky cheese?
-Hast du etwa suggeriert/behauptet/insinuiert(?), dass ich dir gelogen habe, über meiner Verliebtheit mit faulriechendem Käse?

But, a related usage would be:
-Do you honestly mean to suggest (propose) we were put here by aliens?
-Wollen Sie tatsächlich behaupten/vorschlagen (?), dass wir bei Außerirdischen hier gestellt wurden?)

Sind meine Übersetzungen OK, oder gibt es bessere? Wann würde vorschlagen klappen/nicht klappen?

6 years ago
Reply to  Barratt

Saw this and thought I’d add one more example. Mein neues Baby schl?gt vor, dass sein Vater gar kein Schlaf mehr brauchen wird.

Only because that’s what is happening for me right now. No idea if that makes complete sense or not. It is pretty early in the morning after all.

Sent from my iPhone

7 years ago

I’m actually practicing HEMA. The concept of Vorschlag exists in German longsword, exemplifying the concept of initiative. Not merely being the person striking first, but the one who has seized control of the bout by acting.

7 years ago


Erste ich möchte gratulieren vor deinen blog. Das bisher ist die beste und nützlich sprach lernen siete ich habe je gelessen. :-)
Now i change i bit to english, what i also learn (im non of them nationality), so i am amazed about your blog, einfach nur wunderbar :-)
It helps me a lot, i know ich müssen gedeichnen a lot from both but your blog just become my best”language-learning” friend :-)

Best wishes/ mit freundlichen grüsen


8 years ago

Edit – duh it’s “ich spielte fußball” damn iAutocorrect : )

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs
8 years ago

kein problem.
I think i see the difference between the usage of “weil” and “da” now. You brought about an interesting point just there. The difference between written and spoken language for german. I always meant to ask, when you are writing german here online, is it written more informally like the spoken word, or is it strictly formal i.e if i spoke the same way i see things typed here, would people look at me like an idiot? Ive been on quite a few different sites trying to explain the differences between written and spoken, and while they set out, what they suppose to be, concrete rules, i am certain that whilst browsing online, i have seen examples of all tenses being used.

For clarity i speak specifically about verb tenses i.e past, present,perfect


1) Ich sage – present
2) ich sagte – simple past?
3) ich gesagt – ??
4) ich habe gesagt – present perfect?

i said that 3rd one because im pretty sure that i have heard it in use in actual dialog, but i cant find any reference to it online. From what i could glean from the context, it meant pretty much the same as number 2, but without the helping verb.

Was weißt du darüber? – here i go again… – For clarity i tried to say (what do you know about it/that?)

sorry im digressing, but im still very much in “sponge” mode just now.

8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I’m guessing my latest German sentence attempt was correct, because I don’t see any corrections?

It’s possible that I misheard or, even more possible, that it was a German speaking part of France, and maybe they do it differently. I think on balance, I prefer using the “habe geverbt” construction because it feels more rounded.

Consider –
Ich spielt fußball
Ich habe fußball gespielt

Provided they are both correct, obviously, then I prefer the second. I think it sounds better, at least, it sounds more German to me.

Im not even going to attempt to decode your last sentence :-o

I’m just about to get stuck into your monster posts on werden. Seems every time I come across difficulty in understanding a word or concept in German, you’ve already got a post on it.

Vielen dank und weiter so! Deine artikel sind wunderbar.

8 years ago

No, not at all. For me the explanations you are giving are like gold, it’s the subtleties and nuances that make a huge difference, so it’s a great help to have them pointed out. I guess if one day I could have a German conversation and not stand out like a weirdo, apart from probably the accent :D, then I will have made a real achievement.

I understand your explanation of the sie as a finite quantity “they” pointer. It makes sense.

So to revise the sentence based on our discussions, I will address you less formally, slightly correct the grammar and be more specific.

Here goes –

Ich würde vorschlagen, dass du mehr Posts schreibst, da deine früheren Artikeln toll warst.

I think I messed the ending up but I’m not sure why. Couldn’t decide on the conjugation of the verb. Is da and Weil interchangeable in this context?

As a side, can I fire corrections at your English when I see mistakes? Not that there are many of course. I must admit that your understanding of English is very good. I haven’t dumbed down any of my phrasing to accommodate you being a foreign speaker and none of it seems to have been lost. ( man I wish I could explain that in German)

Still, like my id says – “übung macht den meister” or I think “es ist noch kein meister vom himmel gefallen” also works.
I love knowing phrases like that, maybe you should do some posts on idioms :D I’d love to hear your take on the literal translations of them, and how you think they came about.

8 years ago

No it’s ok. You are welcome to guard the integrity of your wonderful language. We are lazy in English and have allowed our language to become deteriorated and abused. Thank you for your detailed analysis and feedback. It is always the best learning experience to try (and fail), before being corrected constructively.

The sentence I thought I wrote in English was

I suggest that you should write more blog posts, because they are great. I was trying to use the second sie in “da sie toll sind” to mean they, I.e the blog-posts. Thanks for the tip on the verb placement, I feel like I can handle 2 verbs in a single sentence with no clauses but when there are clauses or more verbs then I have trouble placing them ( and reading them). Mostly I don’t know to which words in the sentence they belong.

For example –
Ich habe meine Hände gewaschen.

Also thanks for the tip on the verbal weight of sollen. This is for me a very difficult part of German, where words have the same translation, but don’t carry the same linguistic weight. It is therefore quite easy to sound overbearing/impolite/rude quite easily.

In English should carries a moderately friendly undertone. “You Should” sounds like “it’s recommended, but not obligatory”. If I wanted to force it, I would say “you must” or “you have to”. Both of those kinda feel like mussen to me.

Okay I will use du from now on, I’m just following the rules, or so I thought. Mostly the reason I use sie however is because it’s easier for me to remember the infinitive of the verb, than to conjugate it. Point taken, I will learn more du conjugations.

Vielen dank.

8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hey Emanuel,
So with regards to the grammar of referring to nouns that were previously stated…

Words can be referenced using only a 3rd person personal pronoun if the word has already been stated previously while being preceded be a “der-word” (i.e. der/die/das dieser, welcher, jeder, solcher, etc.) or an “ein-word” (i.e. possesive adjectives, eine, keine)

Otherwise if this word is not preceded by a “der-word” or an “ein-word”, you could refer to it using a der/die/das word based on its gender and whether it’s singular or plural, or you could refer to it using a 3rd personal pronoun with another word (in your examples, alle or meistens) to clarify what you’re saying.

I’m pretty sure I understand this concept for the most part, but might as well over-analyze to make sure :D

Also, with regards to how “should” and “sollen” are used, this is a comparison that has interested me. In English, should is frequently used like an encouragement. Like if I’m talking to a friend: “Some of my friends and I are going out tonight, you should come with.” It’s not like I’m necessarily “erwarten” him to come with me. It’s just an encouraging invitation. But in German: “Meine Freunde und ich gehen heute Nacht aus, du sollst mitkommen.” sounds more demaning, correct? I guess this is the situation to use that tone-down “doch”… “Meine Freunde und ich gehen heute Nacht aus, komm doch mit.

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs
8 years ago

Im just leaving this quick comment so that i can follow this post/blog on my newly created wordpress account. Im sorry but i didn’t know how to associate my previous activity so thought this would help. The above comment was by me :D

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs
8 years ago

Im surprised there is not more comments on such a great article. I’ve been reading all over your site the last few weeks and i’m totally engrossed in it… really i cant stop reading it. What a great blog and what a fantastic teacher you are. I love the way you described the formation of this wotd. BAM eat that… Im still snickering about it now whilst trying to write this comment. Your sense of humor and writing style makes the words/grammer a lot easier to learn and also stick better afterwards.

Here comes the german part (I always try to write a little each time)

ich schlage vor, dass Sie sollen mehr Blogs schreiben, da sie toll sind

Hope that made sense. Please be reminded that if it did make sense then it was because you helped me to “feel” the language more than i have ever been capable of before. And if it didn’t it was only because i wasn’t listening properly :D

Samansiri Nanayakkara
Samansiri Nanayakkara
9 years ago

Hey, sehr Dank! Meine Deutsch ist noch sehr schwach. Aber ich muss es sagen, dass diese(r?) Blog sehr gut ist.