Prefix Verbs Explained – “untergehen”

** this article was written during the election campaign for the presidential election and it is a parody of Donald Trump at the TV duels ** 

Hello everyone,

it’s great to be here, with all you German learners. You’re such a great crowd. And huuuge. Such a huge crown.
Look, we have a really really big problem. A really big problem. Many people say … friends of mine, smart people, the best people, they come to me and say German is difficult. They say it’s too difficult and they can’t learn it. I’ll tell you something, German is not difficult. It’s not difficult, believe me. It’s just…Emanuel, he is a total choke artist. And your textbooks, all text, no action, they totally don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.
Look, I know a lot about German. I get along great with grammar; I know words, I have the best words.
And I’m gonna share them with you. Today, we’ll look at the meaning of one of those prefix verbs. Believe, we’ll clear up the meaning of



Untergehen is a combination of unter and gehen. See. It’s easy. Gehen is to go and unter  is pretty much the same as under. So, lit’rally untergehen means to undergo. But look, they’re NOT translations, okay? They’re not translations. Untergehen is so not a translation for to undergo.
The truth is… untergehen is only used in very few contexts.
The most literal is probably for sinking ships – they “go under”

But we got great engineers, great shipbuilders, so you won’t need this meaning like ever. It’s like useless.
Now… some people, liberals, like abstract things and metaphors and stuff. And they’ve come up with something for untergehen, too. You can use it in a sense of demise for empires or something. And also, and that’s really useful,  for some sort of information that gets lost in a sea of information or… I’ll just give you examples. I got billions and billions of examples….

Great meaning, great examples.
But there’s more.
The best and most common use for untergehen is setting in context of the best planet of the entire solar system – the sun. It “goes below the horizon”.

Such a great word. And a great penthouse. I tell the truth, I have the best penthouse.
Now, I tell you something, German verbs ALWAYS have a noun. They ALWAYS have a noun, German verbs. They’re noun-havers. Untergehen is a noun-haver.  I’m gonna tell you it. The noun for untergehen is der Untergang. With a capital U and by the way… I just totally hit the caps-key and the U at once, with my left hand. Not so short, now, are they?
Anyway, Untergang is very similar to the verb and can mean sinking in context of ships but also demise or downfall. 

There’s also this Youtube series called “Der Untergang“, that’s the German title. It’s about Hitler getting some new info and ranting about it.
Just like with the verb, the best use for it is the one with  the sun…  Sonnenuntergang.

All right. So now we know untergehen. Time to raise the steaks and add an extra letter to get an even sharper image.


The r-version is usually super literal and factual. And it’s no different for runtergehen. It means to go down(ward), for instance in context of stairs. I don’t use that meaning too much because I usually take the elevator and that does runterfahren. Because that’s much faster. My building is really really tall, you know.  I have tall buildings. I mean, I could totally take the stairs. I’m in great shape. I’m in the best shape. I tell the truth. I could take the stairs all the way down from my penthouse and not sweat. Marco makes one step up the podium, he’s melting. He’s totally melting. Little Marco makes it rain. And not in a good way. God, he sweats so much.
Anyway, back to runtergehen.  You can use it for walking down stairs but for other stuff. Look, tell you what, I ain’t much for theory, I like examples. I got great examples,  I got the best examples. Do you wanna see them? Yeah? YEAH?? Here you go:

And there are also two great idioms with it.

Great verb. Really useful. Much more useful than untergehen itself. Well, okay the sunset thing is great too. I love sunsets, I’m very romantic. I have the best romantic. I’m a great lover. I am the best lover. Great fingers.

Wow… is it just me or did the standard of this blog just runtergehen a bit today? I don’t know what it is with me today.
But yeah, that’s it for today. You guys have been a great crowd. Thank you. You’re awesome. If you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment. Let’s #makeGermanEasyAgain.

for members :)

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I liked the Trump-isms.


“Time to raise the steaks and add an extra letter to get an even sharper image.”

As I read the sentence I thought, huh, he misspelled “stakes” but then… I see what you did there. LOLOLOL!!!

(note to readers in the future: it’s a reference to Donald Trump selling steaks via the Sharper Image catalog. Just part of the 2016 presidential election insanity.)


As always, I love your posts and your way of explaining. However, I think that you should leave the idiocy to the US elections :)

Brian Wilson

Try- The booing was ‘drowned out’ by the cheers of the crowd.

Keep up the good work. Your blogs are excellent.




Too funny! He is insane. He cannot not be insane.


I really think you should buy a farm in runtergehen. Runtergehen has the best farms. ‘sept yours obviously.


The Casper song “Im Ascheregen” uses untergehen to reference the burning of the city “Lass es unter gehen”. Good song too. Just a random bit of trivia – though I guess you got all the best trivia :)


Also, “socialism” heißt “sanders” auf Deutsch?


Thanks for making German Easy Again ;)

I would like to add one nice example:

“Hurra die Welt geht unter” K.I.Z. – ft. Henning May:

The Tina Sparkles Experience

Super! I have been reading your blogs for a while, but now I am starting to get a grip on German they are really starting to gel. Cheers for the funnies! you have the best funnies! or should that be fundies?


It took a bit before catching on to the Donaldspeak. That was fun! Given the abysmal prospect of him possibly winning, a way to laugh must be found. Otherwise, as an American citizen who is proud of the principles my country was founded upon, well, my mental health will geht runter. :-D


Is there ANYWHERE that we can escape the insanity???? Apparently not…. Great blog!

rutschiger Typ
rutschiger Typ

Auf Englisch, wir haben “goes down (just) like butter.” Das heißt, etwas ist leicht hinunterzuschlucken, wörtlich oder figürlich. Ist das ähnlich wie “das geht runter wie Öl”?


Das geht runter wie Öl!


I suspect quite a few German women wished Donald Trump had been Chancellor of Germany on New Year’s Eve. I don’t see Trump getting social media to remove all expressions of opposition to his policies like someone I could mention.


You got a good blog. The best blog, all polls show it’s the best.
Sehr komisch, Herr Trump


This blog is so good you should build a wall to stop it from being so great….and makes us pay for it…danke viel emmanuel…du hast es wieder getan my friend …u did it again….by thé way i heard trumps family is from kallstadt…and they all kick ass..


Ja…von kallstadt..wie saumagen ;


“Ich habe ein schuld mit die knieppe in der ecke..dafur sind sie die zukunft verantworlich mauerbauer “…would that be an accurate translation.. (Sans the amount of “schuld’) …just for laughs…which is the way one must learn future tense for practical use…danke. So i guess the real question that has been kind of bothering me is the one said (maybe lightly) that germans are not keen on the use of future tense… (In french it is called future proche..which we love in latin ..) ….so if you could please clarify maybe with an example….i will be greatly appréciative….


OK…first, and much more importantly. Thank you very much for the anwer…the second thing maybe doesn’t matter….i thought maybe you had said that german daily talk did not use the future tense a lot…but i feel i’m wrong so i will get back to you