Prefix Verbs Explained – “vorschlagen”

Hello everyone, 

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

vorschlagen

For those of you who have read the post about vorstellen: don’t worry vorschlagen is by far not as extensive. It actually has only one meaning for once and this meaning iiiiis … drumroll please… 

to suggest

Suggest comes from the Latin suggerere and has made its way into many European languages as to suggest. Also German has a descendant – suggerieren, but this one is clearly a false friend, as its meaning IS NOT to suggest, a fact that even Leo.org and Pons.de seem to miss. Suggerieren is a very subliminal way of manipulating someone into thinking something… it’s like I talk to you about how I met your girlfriend the other day, and I go on how we talked a bit and she seemed kind of not very glad to have met me then she would meet this other guy and they went into the direction of the movies … and even that is a bit too much in your face to be really suggerieren. So suggerieren in German means to put something into someones mind, or even better to sneakily put something into someones mind.

But back to vorschlagen. It consists of the basic verb schlagen, which is to beat, punch or  slap, and the preposition vor, which always means something like in front of or before. So the German suggest can be thought of a rather blunt way of presenting the idea…
…we slap it in front of you. BAM – Eat that :)!

  • 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. Suggest a spontaneous weekend at the shore to your sweet heart, in German you will smash it in front of her eyes. It is like our Germanic ancestors talking… life in the wood was way to rough for the fancy shmancy suggerere, if you had something to say, you had to smash it on the table to be heard.
Now take another look at the 3 examples above. As you can see you can suggest things, actions and fully grown sentences. If you vorschlagen to someone this someone will be in case 3 while the thing you are suggestion will be in case 4, given that it is a thing and not an action of course.
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. We are almost done and we even got the grammar down already. 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.

To wrap this up, I wanna talk to you about the second meaning vorschlagen could have if only… if only… it is such a pity.
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.
Thus this funny joke was all theoretical. What? It wasn’t funny at all? Oh. Ok uhm… well.. I suggest we stop here then :).
As always, if you have questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Oh and in case you’re wondering where the r-version is…. there is none and this article is old school. I hadn’t come up with that concept back then yet.