German Prefix Verbs Explained – “vorschlagen”

Hello everyone, 

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



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 and 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 :)!

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.

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.

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:

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.

for members :)

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Samansiri Nanayakkara
Samansiri Nanayakkara

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

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs

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

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs

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


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.


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.

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs

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.


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



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



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.


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?


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


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?