Prefix Verbs Explained – “vorschlagen”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: June 26, 2021

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.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

  • 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.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

  • Ich habe vorgeschlagen, dass wir uns um 10 vor der Bar treffen.
  • I suggest that we meet at 10 in front of the bar.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

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?
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

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.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

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.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

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. 

5 11 votes
Article Rating

German in your inbox

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.