Tag Archives: where do separable prefixes come from

Thinking about Prefixes – Part Two

Hello everyone,

and welcome to the second part of our look at

The Function of Prefixes

In part one (click here if you haven’t read it yet), we learned that unlike the bill of rights, vodka, Buddhism and soccer, prefix verbs are not a German invention. Leave a comment if you just felt triggered XD.

The concept of adding a syllable to the beginning of a verb already existed in Indo-European and just like the idea of ending, adding a prefix became one of the core features of the language family.
That’s why most European languages don’t merely have prefix verbs – they’re actually rife with them. Yes, including English.
And while there’s a wide variety of prefixes and meanings, they all share a common theme :

They add a notion of end point or direction to a verb.

 What we’ll do today – and in part three, because I’m totes gonna makes this a trilogy now – we’ll look at prefix verbs across languages, see how they work, how they evolved and if we can find this grand theme in them.
And what I said last time still holds. The goal of this is not to learn lots of German prefix verbs or get a secret hack to guessing their meanings. The goal is to get a deeper understanding of them so they’re less scary and less confusing.
And today, we’ll focus on what might be the weirdest kinds of prefix verbs… the German separable prefix verbs.
So are you ready for some mind-blowing insights?
Then let’s jump right in.