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 untergehenis 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.

Article Rating

for members :)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments