Tag Archives: origin of prefixes

Thinking about Prefixes


Big news, I have actually read out the episode so you can listen to it. This is an experiment and I am not sure, if this actually works or if it is helpful. Also, I am not a trainer reader and English is not my native language so you can listen to me trying to fight off my German accent :D. 
But yeah… I’ve ben wanting to try this for a long time and this theory-heavy episode felt like a good fit. 
So if you want to give it a try, you can download/listen to the mp3 here.
(near the end I say “ancestors of Indo-European”… I mean, “offsprinsg”)


Hello everyone,

and welcome to … well… I don’t really know what to call this… topic of the Day, I guess.
It’s not about one word in particular, nor is it about a grammar rule. Rather, I want to talk a bit about one quite general and essential aspect of language:

Verb Prefixes

Verb prefixes are a very prominent part of the German language and many learners find them very confusing. Understandably so. There’s the verb kommen and then there are dozens of variations like auskommen, einkommen, reinkommen or bekommen and their meanings are really all over the place and random.
But verb prefixes are not a German thing. Many languages have them and English is no exception. In fact, English is just as full of prefix verbs as German. They’re just a little more covert because… but we’ll get to that later.

So …today, I want to talk a bit about verb prefixes in general and explore where they come from and if there’s actually a common function that they all share.
That’s not gonna make us masters of German prefix verbs. But it’s like with pictures… having a bit of background puts the foreground in perspective. Wow, that was kind of deep for one beer.
So yeah, if you like theorizing a bit about languages, then follow me. And if you don’t like it, follow me anyway, because it will help you make peace with prefix verbs.