Spoken German Bits – “stehen auf”

 

Hello everyone,

and welcome to another episode of Spoken German Bits – the series where we look at all the stuff that people use in real life but that you won’t find in the standard textbook and teaching materials.
“So basically the cool stuff?”
Yeah, the cool stuff :).
Today, we’ll learn a really fly phrase that I’d bet my butt you’ll want to use right away. Ladies and gents, get ready for:

stehen auf

Wow. That’s … uhm… kind of underwhelming.
Yup, combining stehen and auf isn’t exactly an outburst of creativity like, say, jumping and shark.


Stehen auf has a normal day job as to stand/be on (top of), be it in the turbo literal sense of location or for some more figurative uses like writing “on” a paper or sometimes for some sort of settings.

  • Die Tasse steht auf dem Tisch.
  • The cup stands/is on the table.
  • Was steht auf dem Schild? Ich kann das nicht lesen.
  • What does the sign say/What’s written on the sign? I can’t read it.
  • Der Kühlschrank steht auf Stufe 4 und ist trotzdem zu warm.
  • The fridge is on level 4 and still, it is too warm.

So what’s so rad about it? Well, stehen auf is a super mega common informal way to express liking. Yes, another one. Besides mögen and gern and gefallen. Who would have thought that the dour Germans have so many words for liking :).
So, auf etwas/jemanden stehen is a quite casual, informal way to express that you like something or someone.
It’s pretty similar to mögen but it doesn’t work so well for serious emotions. And I feel like stehen auf sounds a little more greedy, or lusty at times. Like… you wanna have it. You don’t just appreciate it for what it is. But hey… I know we all stehen auf examples, so let’s do some :).

  • Ich steh auf Regen.
  • I like/dig rain.
  • “Willst du mal meinen Veggie-Burger kosten?”
    “Nee, ich steh nicht so auf Soja.”
  • “Do you want to try my burger?”
    “No, I don’t really like soy (that much) .”
  • Ich steh’ voll auf Marias Parfum.
  • I really like Maria’s perfume.

And of course it also works with the da-word, d(a)rauf.

  • Wenn ihr darauf steht, unfreundlich behandelt zu werden und zuviel Geld für Scheißgetränke zu bezahlen, dann werdet ihr diese Bar lieben. (fictional review of a bar)
  • If you like being treated in an unfriendly manner and paying too much money for shitty drinks, then you’ll love this bar.
  • “Du trinkst in letzter Zeit öfter Schwarzbier, oder?”
    “Ja Mann, da steh ich grad voll drauf.
  • “Just lately, you have drunk more dark beer haven’t you?”
    “Yeah dude, I‘m really into that at the moment.”
  • “Ihhh… du riechst nach Döner.”
    “Komm schon, da stehst du doch drauf.
    “Nee, voll nich. Geh weg.”
  • “Ewwwww… you smell like kebab.”
    “Come on… I know you like that (that gets you going).”
    “No… I soooo do NOT. Go away!”

And it also works for people.

  • Ich glaub, der neue steht auf mich.
  • I think the new guy has a crush on me.
  • Hey, äh… du bist echt nett, aber ich steh auf Frauen.
  • Hey new guy… you’re really nice, but I like women.

And in that context it’s usually about THAT liking. You can say the following to your crush, but not to your best friend… well, except if you have a crush on your best friend.

  • Ich steh auf dich.
  • I like/dig you.

Now, those of you who are currently in the “case phase” (the phase when you worry about getting the cases right and try to make sense of all of them”) might be wondering “Wait, why dich and not dir.” A very good question that brings us to the secret of how to make everyone stehen auf you.
Nah kidding, I mean this:

The grammar of stehen auf

The normal use works with Dative. And Dative actually makes sense, because stehen is stationary and that is connected to Dative. Still, the colloquial, abstract use works with Accusative. And this is actually a general trend of a general trend in German. Here they are back to back.

  • Thomas steht auf dem Tisch. (Thomas is standing on the table.)
  • Thomas steht auf den Tisch. (Thomas digs/really likes the table.)
  • Ich warte auf dem Schiff. (I’m on the ship, waiting.)
  • Ich warte auf das Schiff (I’m waiting for the ship.)

The Dative covers the literal, location related meaning; the Accusative is used for the abstract combo of verb and preposition. And I can imagine that’s quite confusing for learners. But luckily it makes sense… or we can make it make sense. Get ready for some mind bending:
Liking does have some overlap with wanting. And wanting something or someone has a fair bit of direction in it. You have a goal, and even if just on a very abstract level, you’re “moving” toward it. And stehen auf with Accusative kind of captures this “directed” mind.

  • Steve steht auf Maria.

He wants her, he desires her, his mind is bent on her, his soul is directed toward her. Damn Steve, that’s creepy… no wonder she thought about getting a restraining order.
But seriously, we can think of this Accusative as capturing the “directed-ness”, that is part of wanting and liking.
And if that doesn’t make sense to you, then I got another option, which is also a theory as to where stehen auf actually comes from. There’s a similar phrasing to stehen auf: fliegen auf. It means the same but I think it’s a bit older and definitely somewhat out of fashion today. What’s cool about it is that the Accusative makes perfect sense there because fliegen is a directed movement, and that is connected with Accusative.
Just think of a flock of seagulls darting down on an open bag of potato chips someone left at the beach. They “fly on top of it” because they dig that stuff.
This fliegen auf might have inspired stehen auf and people just kept the case.
Wow, that was a lot of case talk :).
Let’s wrap this up then with something lighter… a word play. There’s a woman who has written a book about how to get healthy and strong feet. And now guess what it’s title could be….

Starke Füße – da steh ich drauf.

(so just mark it to read it, or click the link)

German humor… just gotta steh auf it.
Sometimes. When you can actually find some.
Anyway, that’s it for today. This was our look at the phrase stehen auf, which is a colloquial way to express liking. And which is SUPER MEGA COMMON.
What about you? Have you heard this phrasing in daily life? Do you use it? Were you confused by it at first? And what do you stehen auf? Leave a comment with your example and see if you used it correctly. And of course if you have any questions about any of this, let’s clear that up in the comments, too.
I’m out for now. I hope you had fun.
Bis nächstes Mal.

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Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago

Einhorn 1 : I stehe auf deine Augen
Einhorn 2 : Tut mir lied,aber Ich denke von dir.
Einhorn 1 : Bitte! Ich werde dich sogar auf mich stellen lassen.
Einhorn 2 : Ich rufe die Polizei

English

Einhorn 1 : I like you eyes
Einhorn 2 : Sorry,but I don’t think about you
Einhorn 1 : please! I will even let you walk on me
Einhorn 2 : I am calling the police

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Dankeschön.
I remembered your comment about an vs von. It should be “an” here

Bosko
Bosko
2 years ago

Warum ist Ich steh auf Regen. und nicht Ich steh auf den Regen. Brauchen wir Artickle in diser konstrukcion oder nicht?

PeterB
PeterB
2 years ago

Great article! In particular, I like how you compared “stehen” with “warten”, which made it easier to understand.

Here is how I look at “Ich warte auf Akkusative vs. Dative” issue. “Warten” is intransitive (does not have a direct object) like in English in the sense of waiting for sth. So, I can say “Ich warte”, but I can also add where I am waiting: “naben dem Schiff” “unter dem Schiff” (not likely :-)), or “auf dem Schiff”.

On the other hand, a lot of German verbs are best learned together with a proposition (as in English) [verb + preposition combo], and they can be thought off as a different verb. So, “warten auf” means “waiting for” and is transitive, that is, requires a direct object, which is in Akkusative.

The same apparently applies to “stehen auf”.

alanmarsee
alanmarsee
5 years ago

Hallo. Ich (steh oder stehe) auf diese Website. Im confused why you’re using steh and not stehe?

Aviv
Aviv
5 years ago

Aus irgendwann Gründe, “fliegt auf” (oder לעוף על) hat zu sehr bekannt Umgangsprache ausspruche geworden. Das ist sehr lustig, es in Einer alt ist und doch in Anderer sehr häufig

Aviv
Aviv
5 years ago
Reply to  Aviv

Ich meine auf die Hebräisch Sprache

Saeed Al Hassan
Saeed Al Hassan
5 years ago

everytime I have a chance to learn a lot thank you so much

Andres Camilo Hernandez
Andres Camilo Hernandez
5 years ago

Guys, in the couple of months i have followed this blog (8 to be exact) i have noticed a HUGE improvement not only in my German level, but (i’m sure it has happened to all of you) in my confidence level in general. This is the 5 th language i’ve learned, and the first one on my own. This community is awesome and every input is really an awesome exchange of energies and ideas. I want to thank you guys who donated a bit more so that some of us can keep on progressing and feeding on this post, and endorse lots more people in the future. Let’s support Emanuel (and his new intern Dakota,,from thé Biergarten ;) ) so that all of us un this community become fluid and just learn about the truly unique language that is German. Vielen Danke dudes
LEBEN LANGE UND ERFOLGREICH..to all and to this kick-ass blog..
(In thé same spirit, i am an official translator in Spanish, French and Portuguese so if any of you habe questions.related..my mail camilohernandez.82@hotmail.com)

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

– If you like being treated unfriendly …

Can you be “treated unfriendly”? “Unfriendly” is an adjective, which makes me want to stick another “-ly” on the end … “being treated unfriendly-ly”. But that looks awful, so I’d probably go with “in an unfriendly manner”, or I’d avoid the problem with “brusquely”.

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

“Unfriendlyly” ist falsch; es soll “unfriendlily” sein – mit einem I. Danke, dass du mich es nachschlagen gelassen hast! (Or should that be: “…, dass du mich gelassen hast, es nachzuschlagen”? Or something else entirely?)

Nicklas Kulczycki
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

We don’t really have a way of dealing with converting “ly” adjectives into adverbs in English (for obvious reasons), but as this is colloquial speech, I would have no issue with saying “If you like being treated unfriendly”. In an academic setting, I’d use higher-brow language, but in many places American English is trending toward use of adjectives in place of adverbs in daily usage anyway. Mach dir nichts draus ;)

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

If it existed, I think it’d become “unfriendlily” :). Dictionary.reference.com claims that “friendlily” exists, so I guess in theory “unfriendlily” could exist too, but the site also says “unfriendly” can be an adverb (the way you use it).

I don’t have a problem with the phrase as you had it originally, but I think because of that awkwardness, a native speaker would tend to go for a work-around (“if you like people being unfriendly to you” or something).

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
5 years ago

You used it in some of the translations of your examples, but I’d say “be into something/someone” is THE go-to way to understand “auf etw./jmdn. stehen” – it would work in almost all your examples and really has the same sort of register and tone, at least in American usage.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Oh, totally :D

– “Ihhh… du riechst nach Döner.”
– “Komm schon, da stehst du doch drauf.“
– “Nee, voll nich. Geh weg.”

– “Ewwwww… you smell like kebab.”
– “Come on… I know you’re into that.”
– “No… I soooo am NOT. Go away!”

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

“Wenn ihr darauf steht, unfreundlich behandelt …
If you can stand being treated unfriendly…..

“Ja Mann, da steh ich grad voll drauf.”
Yeah mate, I can actually stand that stuff at the moment

“Komm schon, da stehst du doch drauf.”
Come on..I know you can stand it

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

“Who would have thought that the dour Germans have so many words for liking”, – ‘dour’ is too strong a word, Germans are not dour, ‘staid’ would be better.

Stehen auf is a common, informal way to express liking : so, if I think of it as, ‘I can stand for that’ / ‘I can’t stand for that’ – it works for me, because we use these sayings, in conection with like/dislike.

I can stand a little rain – Esther Phillips 1975

I can’t stand the rain – Ann Peebles 1974 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5Rjo_imHDE

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
5 years ago
Reply to  Angie

– ‘dour’ is too strong a word, Germans are not dour, ‘staid’ would be better.

Have you spent much time in Berlin? ;)

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

Just to say though, don’t be thinking you should change the way you’re teaching, or the use of your dialogue. If I were to do this site in my spoken language, even half of my country folk would not understand me, and I’d probably be locked up if some of my spoken dialogue were translated on the net! ;)

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

“I guess you’re mostly referring to little bits in the dialogues I’m using… what exactly do you mean by backup translation. Maybe I can add something like that in the future…”

it is the dialogues, and I do take note of your dialogues because that is the ‘street’ German language, (more so than the textbook stuff, because I am not looking to take an exam, nor employment. I’m semi-retired with a holiday home) and sometimes your dialogue does not translate by Google/Bing etc, they come up with translations so out there/random and nothing to do with what/how you have said it.
I don’t believe you should now translate your dialogue too! But when I come across something you’ve said and I can’t fathom it, I’ll ask…
Thanks for being so friendly and your reply is appreciated. :)

Joel
Joel
5 years ago

My german friends say that using “stehen auf” and “fliegen auf” to tell someone directly that you like them is considered really vulgar and inappropriate. Can it have different cultural meanings depending on which parts of Germany you are from?

Joel
Joel
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks for replying. They’re in their twenties and from Austria. It’s apparently not as common where they are from. Those phrases seem to be considered pretty rude in their social group.

Guy
Guy
5 years ago

Can u explain the difference between drauf and Darauf?

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

I’m glad that you’re using the words that people use in real life, but sometimes I’m finding it a tad unnerving that I can find no ‘back-up’ translation. Sometimes when I do find a translation, it is completely different, and I often wonder if your usage is quite a lot down to regional dialect? which is ok of course, but would that help me speak the street speak in my region..will I be understood, and by heck they do have regional speak, just a few miles apart and it’s a whole different spoken language!.
But still, my choice of learning is with you, and bugger the consequences.

Angie
Angie
5 years ago

“You’ve often had a dark beer recently, didn’t you?” – doesn’t really work
“Just lately, you have drunk more dark beer haven’t you?” spoken emphasis on the ‘have’.

Jimmy Cao
Jimmy Cao
5 years ago

This post is hilarious. Especially the kebab smell conversation.

person243
person243
5 years ago

“Die Welt liegt uns zu Füßen, denn wir steh’n drauf, wir geh’n drauf…”

I don’t know how long it took me until I understood that this songtext was meant literally. I mean in figurative sense the translation would be: “The world is at our feet (everybody adores us), because we like/dig it, we are dying…” and literally: “The world is at our feet, because we stand on it, we walk on it.”

Anyway, I don’t know whether it is important to point out but I still thought it funny. You can either say: “Darauf steh’ ich.” or “Da steh’ ich drauf.” which mean basically the same, but the second uses an aditional “da” but shortens the “darauf” to “drauf”. The first would not work with just “drauf”(at least not in this order) and the second not with “darauf”. And you would also not be able to substitute “da” with something like “hier” or “dort” or “es” or “das”. Only “da”. You could probably say: “Hierauf stehe ich.” although that does not fit the tone, so it would be understood more literally.
What I wanted to say, this phrase does not leave much room for experimentation. Either you have a grammatical object: “Ich stehe auf [object].” or you use the forms: “Ich stehe d(a)rauf, …” or even: “Ich steh’ da drauf, …” But it is probably safest to use “drauf” only with the additional “da” and if you have a “da” already it can only be “drauf” not “darauf”.
I think I wrote too much.

Aformanek
Aformanek
5 years ago

Ich stehe auf deinen Blog!

Darf ich nicht sagen daß ich DICH aufstehe wenn ich meine nur daß Sie hammer sind?

(And is that an ok use of hammer?)

Danke!