and welcome :).morge
First things first… you probably have noticed that the cartoon is exceptionally beautiful this time.
Well, that’s because it was done by an actual artist, instead of me.
Some of you might already know her. Her name is Helen, and in her freetime, she draws really lovely cartoons about German words and her learning journey overall. You can find her on Instagram here:
Helen-Handshoes – Comics about German
And the best thing is… we’re making a book together. About German prefix verbs. Everyone’s favorite topic.
We’re still working on the layout, but we’re about 70% done and we’ve actually set up a little info page about it.
So if you’re interested in prefix verbs, check it out :)
Our Upcoming Book (info page and newsletter)
But now let’s jump into today’s episode and this will be a new episode in our practical guide series for German verbs.
In this series, we take one important German verb and go over the most important phrasings and structures together.
So you will get a feeling for how to use the verb in practice, and ALSO, you’ll repeat various aspects of the core German grammar.
And the best thing is, we’re not just doing this in theory but in actual factual practice.
Because you will have to speak!
Yes, it’s speech AI time again.
The verb we’ll go over today is
and as usual we’ll practice all the basics that you need to have to communicate in German:
- present tense (and future)
- past tense
- questions and
- modal verbs
Those are kind of the basics, but each verb has different “needs”, so each verb gives us the opportunity to see a special bit of German grammar in practice.
And for aufhören, we’ll get special focus on:
- prefix verbs
- nounified verbs
- zu-constructions and
And we’ll also get some insights into the placement of nicht and German word order.
Sounds like a lot but don’t worry… it’s not as much as it sounds, and it’s pretty intuitive.
So are you ready to jump in?
Then let’s freaking gooooooooooooooooo……
Quick rundown of how it works first.
How it works
I’ll give you sentences in English that you’ll have to say in German. We’ll always start very simple and short and then work our way to longer statements, so you really get a feel for the rhythm and flow.
You can of course translate the sentences in writing first, using the note feature (if you’re a member) or a piece of paper.
But the core of the practice is that you then actually SAY it.
The speech grading AI will give you feedback on how you did – for the statement as a whole but also for the individual words, so you can see where you need to improve.
Let’s do a try.
To start the recording, just click the button and click it again to stop. The button should change looks when it is actively recording.
You’ll then get the feedback pretty much instantly.
(*If you’re using this for the first time or your browser has cleared the cache, my site will request access to the microphone.
You need to allow that. If something isn’t working, then it might be because the browser is not allowing mic access. Leave me a comment, if you need help. )
You can take as many recordings as you want and compare them with each other. And you can also compare them to my own version.
Keep in mind though… the AI is not perfect and the score you get also depends on the quality of your microphone and if there are any noises in your surroundings.
Take it as a rough guide, not a precise pronunciation trainer. The main goal of this is not that you get a perfect pronunciation score though. The goal is that you actually say the sentences, because using the structures, producing the rhythms will make a huge difference for your learning.
So… time to get started.
And with aufhören, it makes sense to first say a few words about the meaning. Feel free to skip that part if you know the meaning already and you’ve read my article on aufhören.
Aufhören means to stop.
And this of course raises a question:
“What the heck is going on?”
I mean, hören itself means to hear, and to stop seems to be very far away.
But there’s a fairly similar phrase in English. Imagine… Monday morning work meeting, everyone is very busy advancing their kyphosis by reading Titter™ on their phone, and then the lead manager goes like “Listen up everyone!!!”.
People will stop scrolling and look up, being all attentive.
And that’s the original sense of aufhören. It meant “to start listen attentively”. But then, slowly the verb shifted its focus toward the idea of “stopping what you were doing” and eventually, that became the new meaning.
And thinking of it in this way also helps understand which kind of to stop it really is. Because to stop is way broader than aufhören and aufhören for instance DOESN’T work for stopping a car.
It ONLY works in the sense of stopping an activity you were busy with. A (albeit rough) test is to plug in to quit or to cease instead.
If that works, then aufhören fits, and if not, then aufhören will sound VERY confusing to a native speaker.
If you want to dig a little deeper into this, then you can check out my article on aufhören, which goes a bit more into detail
But now, let’s get practical with the present tense.
Present tense (and future)
Hören itself is 100% plain vanilla regular in terms of conjugation, and because prefix versions are in line with their base verb, aufhören is regular, too.
The prefix auf- is separable, so it carries the main emphasis (AUFhören) and it gets split off when used in a sentence.
Here’s the idea:
- Ich höre auf.
And now you give it a try.
And now let’s do one in the future, because German will also use present tense for that, as long as there is an indication in the sentence.
If you put morgen after auf… that’s wrong and it’ll never work, because the final slot is reserved for the verb and its parts, like prefixes for example.
But we can START the sentence with morgen. We just have to keep in mind that the verb will STAY in position two in German, so Thomas has to move.
Now let’s also do a negation. German doesn’t use to do as a helper, and instead just plugs in nicht (or kein-) somewhere. Where exactly… that’s a topic in and of itself, but in the next example it’ll be quite easy, because as we’ve already learned, it MUST come BEFORE the prefix. You know… verb final and all.
Let’s give it a try.
- ** I don’t stop.
- Ich höre nicht auf
And let’s do a couple more, because why not. First a positive one :)
- ** I stop and Maria stops as well. (auch)
And then the same in the negative
So now we’re a bit comfy with the basic conjugation and the prefix.
But the statements are pretty basic so far, because stopping something really only makes sense if we know what that something is.
And there are two main ways to add that to our aufhören.
Let’s start with the less important one.
The first way to include the activity we’re stopping is to use mit and the activity in form of a noun.
- Maria hört mit Yoga auf.
- Maria stop with (doing) Yoga.
Here, we have a proper noun, but in German you can also make every verb into a noun by adding das and capitalizing it.
So the noun for the verb arbeiten (to work), the activity of working, is das Arbeiten. The noun for kochen (to cook) is das Kochen and so on.
So let’s give it a try:
Now, over time you’ll probably notice that people sometimes say mit + [Verb] like we just did and sometimes mit dem [Verb]. There’s no easy to grasp rule, when to use which- At least I couldn’t think of one.
I think the version WITHOUT the article is overall more common, though, and also, it’s easier, so my recommendation would be to stick with that and not worry about the fine difference here.
After all, this way of phrasing is not too common anyway.
What you should use like 90% of the time is aufhören zu.
In the first phrasing, we transformed the verb into a grammatical noun to connect it. But that gets cumbersome if the activity needs more than just a verb to be expressed (like for example “Bier trinken”).
And German generally prefers using verbs over using nouns if it has a choice, and the way to connect a verb with aufhören is the zu-construct.
- I stop drinking beer.
- Ich höre auf Bier zu trinken.
Yes, it looks a bit like “I stop to drink beer.” but that’s NOT what it means. It’s really about stopping the drinking, not stopping so you can do the drinking :).
Now, I know that some of you are now wondering if it shouldn’t be
- Ich höre Bier zu trinken auf.
Because the verb has to be final.
And in a short sentence like this that ALSO works, but generally, these zu-constructs get treated like a proper side-sentence, so they typically get put after the final verb. That is better style in both written and spoken German, and we will practice only that. Which is good, because it’s way less mental gymnastics :).
Time for a try:
Now let’s throw in the time and say that we stop working at 3.
This might be a bit confusing in terms of structure, at least if you take English as reference, because it looks like the time is connected to working.
The time refers to the stopping, not the working, so let’s take it step by step and start with this:
And now we just add the other part to this.
Now, let’s use tomorrow and start the sentence with it…
And let’s throw in a reason for good measure.
And baaaaam… you just made quite a long German sentence.
Let’s do another one, one that’s very important on vacation.
And let’s through in a negation
And one last one
And with that one in mind, we’ll walk right over to modal verbs.
The modal verb will go into position two and the verb there will move all the way to the end, right behind the prefix. And remember… the prefix is IN FRONT of the zu-construct, because that is treated like a separate entity.
Here’s an example:
- Maria stops working earlier today.
- Maria can stop working earlier today.
- Maria hört heute früher auf zu arbeiten.
- Maria kann heute früher aufhören zu arbeiten
And now it’s your turn :)
And another one
and one last one, this time with a negation ;)
Now, we’ve done quite a bit of work already, but of course we’re not really ready for action until we’ve done… past tense.
So let’s do that next.
For aufhören, it’s as simple as it gets. You ONLY need spoken past, the helper verb we need for it is haben and the ge-form is a complete boring normie.
- Ich höre auf. (present)
- Ich habe aufgehört. (past)
And the rest works the same as what we already learned… so additional stuff like time or reason will come before aufgehört, and a zu-construct will come AFTER it.
Suppose I want to say that I stopped drinking beer a week ago.
Let’s take it one step at a time and start with just the time.
Now let’s do the beer part.
And now let’s combine them
Let’s do another one, because Maria also stopped with a vice last week.
And let’s make that even longer and start with “for some reason”. IN German, that’s “aus irgendeinem Grund” and we’ll start the sentence with it, so you’ll have to pay attention to the word order after it ;)
And there you go… you just made another fairly long German sentence!!
Let’s do take a another run with a different example. This time with a negation.
And don’t get confused… it looks fairly different in English but in German, the only difference to the positive sentence is nicht.
Yuk, that doesn’t like a pleasant vacation. Let’s add the location, so people know where not to go
So now we can talk about the present and the past and we can handle negations and the zu-construct fairly well.
The only thing that’s really missing is…. questions.
UsuallyAnd the main thre questions we’d usually ask with aufhören are the questions why we stopped something, when we stopped it and what it was that we actually stopped.
And because German doesn’t use a helper verb for questions, all you have to essentially do is put the question word first, then the verb and then the rest.
- Ich höre auf. (I stop)
- Wer hört auf? (Who stops?)
Your turn ;)
And let’s make it a bit longer
And let’s do the same in past tense… and a different drink
And lets do another one that’s a bit longer
The only one that’s a bit tricky is to ask for what it is that we’re actually stopping. The first impuls would be to use was, but that is actually not correct.
Remember the two ways that we had to connect the activity we’re stopping?
One was using a zu-construction, and the other one…
… was using mit.
And THAT’S what we need for the question.
We can either ask mit was, but that sounds a bit basic. The more proper way is to use… womit.
Here’s an example:
- What will I stop (doing)?
- Womit höre ich auf?
And now you give it a try:
Lets mix in the time…
And let’s do it in past tense
And once again, but a bit longer
And last but not least, let’s do a really tricky one with a modal verb AND a negation… are you ready?
I’m sure getting used to womit will take a bit of time and as I said, mit was is also okay. Just try to not use a pure was, because that sounds quite wrong.
Now, we’re almost done for the day, but there actually is one more thing that’s worth doing…. telling people to stop.
So let’s do that real quick and then wrap this up :)
We’ll focus on the informal way here, so telling your friend to stop something.
And the core of it is simply:
- Hör (bitte) auf!
- (Please) Stop!
And then you just have to add the thing that you want them to stop, the way we already learned it.
So are you ready? Then 3,2,1 let’s go:
And that’s it for today :)
This was our practical tour of the common important phrasings for aufhören.
The idea is actually that you come back to this exercise a few times over the next weeks and do it again, until you don’t really have to think anymore to say the sentences. Because then you have a good chance that they’ll also come out naturally in actual conversation.
As one of my favorite saying goes:
Repetition is the mother of skill.
It’s just so true!
As usual, if you have any questions about any of this just leave me a comment and I’ll try to clear it up.
I hope you liked it and had a good time and I’ll see you in the next one soon.
If you have technical issues with this please leave a comment with a bit of details and not just “Didn’t work for me.”. I can only trouble shoot if I know what is not working, and what you see on your screen.
Also, iOS Safari has trouble playing back the recordings you’re making. I’m hoping to get this fixed, but with Apple you never know what dumb restrictions they put in place.
Really enjoyed this kind of exercises where you have to practice all kinds of sentences constructions (with modal verbs, in the past, with negations etc.). It’s a really well rounded exercise. Thank you!
Happy to hear that. I’ll post a new one soon.
Super hilfreich! Es hat so vie Spaß gemacht dass ich nicht aufhören wollte! (funny – before I did this exercise I would have thought that my previous sentence meant – ‘It was so much fun that I didn’t want to hear it any. more’ :) LOL Am Ende hatte ich ein echtes Verständnis des Wortes – “aufhören”
Oh, super, das freut mich wirklich zu hören!!
Eine ausgezeichnete Übung! Vielleicht besser als ein normaler Lehrer! Der Computer kann sich nicht langweilen und seine Geduld nicht verlieren, also kann man so lange üben, wie man will.
Vielen Dank, und bitte mach weiter so, wenn du Zeit hast.
Außerdem sollte ich (als Kroate) anmerken, dass, obwohl ich zustimme, dass Primošten sehr schön ist und Split viele gute Restaurants hat, Kroatien im Allgemeinen sehr schön ist und viele kleine kroatische Städte auch ausgezeichnete Restaurants haben!
Ja, das glaube ich gerne :). Kroatien hat viel zu bieten!
Guter Punkt mit der Geduld. Das ist tatsächlich ein Vorteil von Computern/AI.
Honestly thought my German pronunciation was well above average but I’m really struggling to get any of the pronunciations above 80%. It’s weird. What is the baseline used to the recordings?
It might be a mic issue or you’re too far away from the mic. That has a big impact.
The AI works with the text, not a recording. It builds an expectation based on the text it is given and then compares that with the audio it gets.
I usually get either a full score or like 95% so it can accurately detect a native speaker, even with all the normal slurring and mumbling that I do.
Anyway, try to get closer to the mic, that might help.
Viel Spaß und sehr nützlich. Ich liebe die Sprechkomponente!
Viiiielen Dank! Hat mir so viel Spaß gemacht! :)
Das freut mich :)
Ich fand die womit-Übungen besonders hilfreich. Vielen Dank dafür!
Sehr hilfreich! Es war uns geboten, “nützlich” weniger zu benutzen!
Ja, stimmt, das hier ist ein Beispiel dafür :).
(Das war in einem anderen Artikel Thema)
Danke! Eigentlich habe ich nur kürzlich darüber erfahren..
Echt toll danke sehr!
Ich kann es nicht hören.
Hi Charles, could you please be a little more specific?
What is “es”? What happens? And what device are you using?
I’m trying to help and make it work for everyone, but I need to know what is not working, and how it looks.
Thanks a lot.
Es ist jetzt besser, ich kann jetzt hören. Konnte gestern nicht
Super, freut mich, dass es jetzt funktioniert :)
Super klar, aber ich konnte nicht mitmachen, obwohl ich den Zugriff auf das Mikrofon erlaubt habe!
could you please give me a bit more information what exactly is not working?
What happens when you press the recording button?
And what device are you using?
My PC. I was asked for access to the microphone which I granted and the mic sybol is showing on the screen top left. However when I press and the circle changes (green border) and I then speak, press again and the comment box comes up NaN 0% with a red cross.
What browser are you using?
Does the microphone work on other applications? Like, can you make a recording here:
Interesting! It doesn’t work on that link but works fine on Zoom and Teams. Confusing!
Are you using an Apple? Because Apple Safari browser has issues playing and recording mp3s and ad hoc recordings. It’s been an issue since 2010 and they don’t really give a crap, it seems.
Super nutzvoll und hilfreich! Aber meine Aussprache für “trinken” gefällt der Maschine nie. :(
Have you listened back to your version? Maybe you click stop too fast and it gets cut off. Sometimes the AI has indeed issues with a word, but “trinken” works great for me and I get my 100% (as a native).
If you can upload a recording of yourself saying it somewhere, I’ll give you feedback.
This was my first opportunity to work through one of your blog posts from beginning to end. I am in awe. I’ve been working on improving my German. I’ve tried many different approaches most of which have provided value. However, this blog post took me to a new level that I didn’t know existed. It will be long before I forget about aufhören and where, how, and when one uses it after this lesson. I appreciate your diligence in this lesson’s preparation.
I’m really happy to hear that the format works well for you :).
I did some more exercises with the same format already, so if you want, I can post the links here.
I probably should give them a proper archive link soon, as I will expand that into a real series.
The audio for this leaves out the “at three” part
Fixed it (I changed the example :)). Danke!!
I like the lay out. The dividers are nice.
Happy to hear that :)!
No luck getting it to hear me; previous exercises, it did work. IOS says you have access to the mic, it seems to record but always comes up 0 or 2%. Trying to play mine back changes the play icon to pause, but nothing else happens. iOS gives me a choice of three mic settings: standard, voice isolation, or wide spectrum; all three behave the same. Sigh.
IOS seems to be at it. You’re not the only one having this specific problem. I am trying to get a hold of a mac to troubleshoot.
If anyone reading this could send me a screenshot of the safari console print, that’d be great.
do you still need help in troubleshooting this issue?
I usually use Safari on a Mac, and after the latest update to the operating system (maybe three months ago) the recording function on this site stopped working, in that the recorded level is so low that I can hear almost no sound coming out when I play back the recorded audio. Before the update, I always got at least a 75 % score, now everything is red…
Interestingly, on the testing site you recommended (https://online-voice-recorder.com/de/) everything works perfectly, speaking at the same distance from the microphone.
If I use a different browser (Firefox), everything works.
Please let me know in case you still need the console output or you already received it from someone else
Ich habe gerade wieder versucht und diesmal konnte ich deine Version hören.
Was mein Akzent betrifft, ist er noch immer so schlecht wie früher…
0 bis 5%.
Meine Version kann ich nicht hören.
Vielleicht ein Problem mit meinem Computer. Ich habe neulich viele Probleme gehabt.
Ich höre aber nicht auf Deutsch zu lernen!
So next to the grading there should be a little play button and when you click that, you’ll hear your recording.
Do you see that button?
What do you hear when you click it? If you barely hear anything, then it might be a problem with the microphone.
Very helpful – I love this way of learning and practising! For some reason I can only get a yellow when I say Bier – I wonder if is my Australian accent?
btw – the answer to:
“Tomorrow, I’ll stop working at three.” (start with “morgen”)
is missing the ‘um drei’
Fixed it :). Danke dir.
I’d love to help with “Bier”, but I can’t hear the recordings as their not actually saved anywhere.
If you can record it and upload it somewhere, I’ll give you feedback.
I was in the same boat with pronouncing “Bier” (with a not-very-pronounced Australian accent, but an Australian accent nonetheless). After closely listening to my pronunciation on playback it was clear that there’s always something rising/optimistic(!) when I say the word “Beer” in English, and that was causing the problem. Flattening out the emphasis so that it doesn’t have the slight rising “uh” (almost “be-a”, as in a swiftly spoken “I want to *be a* fireman”) at the end helped change me from a yellow box guy to a green box guy, and to occasionally even join the prized black-bordered-green-box club for the word “Bier”.
Fantastic exercise, by the way! Well worth doing again and again, taking off more of the training wheels (not looking at your hints, etc) with each repetition.
That’s really interesting input!!
I tried recreating an “accent” for Bier based on your description, but the AI still gave me bordered box most of the time.
Then I realized that I was using American accent with that thick thick twangy “r”.
So then I tried a more British version, with a silent “r” and the vowel more leaning toward “bear”.
And THAT is causing an issue, indeed. Now I got yellow boxes all the way, even though it sounds similar enough to Bier.
Anyone reading this…. if you get a poor score on Bier and pmccann’s trick doesn’t change that, you might want to try and make the “ie” higher… like in “bee”.
Thanks Emanuel and pmccann. I will try these. I am moving to Germany later in the year, and it’s very very important that I am understood when I say Bier!
I think there’s a high tolerance for deviation in pronunciation for “Bier”, so you’ll be fine :D
Vielen Dank für den Artikel. Wie immer anregend.
Ich habe zwei technische Probleme gehabt :
ich könnte nicht immer deine Version hören
und ich habe fast immer für die Aussprache 0% gehabt, manchmal bis 10%, was ein bisschen entmutigend ist!
Vielleicht ist meine Aussprache wirklich so schlecht, aber vor einigen Wochen hatte ich manchmal bis 90 %.
Das klingt nach einem Problem mit dem Mikrofon oder der Lautstärke. Hast du dir DEINE Versionen angehört? Wie klingen die denn?
Und bei welchen Beispielen kannst du meine Version nicht hören?