Using “aufhören” – a practical guide

Hello everyone,

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

aufhören

 

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
  • imperative

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. )

“aufhören”

aufhören
aufhören

hint

My version:


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.

The meaning

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

Word of the Day – “aufhören”

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.

I stop and you stop.
Ich höre auf und du hörst auf.

hint

My version:


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.

Thomas will stop tomorrow.
Thomas hört morgen auf.

hint

My version:


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.

Tomorrow, Thomas is going to stop.
Morgen hört Thomas auf.

hint

My version:


Cool.
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

I don’t stop.
Ich höre nicht auf.

hint

My version:


And let’s do a couple more, because why not. First a positive one :)

  • ** I stop and Maria stops as well. (auch)

I stop and Maria stops as well.
Ich höre auf und Maria hört auch auf.

hint

My version:

And then the same in the negative

I’m not stopping and Maria isn’t stopping either.” (auch nicht – “also not”)
Ich höre nicht auf und Maria hört auch nicht auf.

hint

My version:


All right.
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.

aufhören mit

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:

Maria stops working.
Maria hört mit Arbeiten auf.

hint

My version:

***

Thomas quits smoking.
Thomas hört mit Rauchen auf.

hint

My version:


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.

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 :).
Cool.
Time for a try:

I stop working.
Ich höre auf zu arbeiten.

hint

My version:


Great.
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:

I’ll stop at three.
Ich höre um drei auf.

hint

My version:


And now we just add the other part to this.

I’ll stop working at three.
Ich höre um drei auf zu arbeiten.

hint

My version:


Now, let’s use tomorrow and start the sentence with it…

Tomorrow, I’ll stop working.” (start with “morgen”)
Morgen höre ich auf zu arbeiten.

hint

My version:


And let’s throw in a reason for good measure.

Tomorrow, I’ll stop working at three because of my birthday.” (wegen meinem Geburtstag… goes before the time)
Morgen höre ich wegen meinem Geburtstag um drei auf zu arbeiten.

hint

My version:


And baaaaam… you just made quite a long German sentence.
Let’s do another one, one that’s very important on vacation.

It stops raining.” (regnen)
Es hört auf zu regnen.

hint

My version:


And let’s through in a negation

It won’t stop raining.
Es hört nicht auf zu regnen.”

hint

My version:


And one last one

Thomas stops drinking coffee.
Thomas hört auf Kaffee zu trinken.

hint

My version:


And with that one in mind, we’ll walk right over to modal verbs.

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:

  1. Maria stops working earlier today.
  2. Maria can stop working earlier today.
  1. Maria hört heute früher auf               zu arbeiten.
  2. Maria kann heute früher aufhören zu arbeiten

And now it’s your turn :)

Thomas wants to stop drinking coffee.
Thomas will aufhören, Kaffee zu trinken.

hint

My version:


And another one

I have to stop eating so much cake.” (so viel Kuchen)
Ich muss aufhören, so viel Kuchen zu essen.

hint

My version:


and one last one, this time with a negation ;)

I don’t want to stop learning German.
Ich will nicht aufhören, Deutsch zu lernen.

hint

My version:


Cool!

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.

 

Past Tense

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.

I stopped a week ago.” (vor einer Woche)
Ich habe vor einer Woche aufgehört.

hint

My version:

Now let’s do the beer part.

I’ve stopped drinking beer.
Ich habe aufgehört Bier zu trinken.

hint

My version:


And now let’s combine them

I have stopped drinking beer a week ago.
Ich habe vor einer Woche aufgehört Bier zu trinken.

hint

My version:


Perfect.
Let’s do another one, because Maria also stopped with a vice last week.

Maria stopped doing Yoga a week ago.” (machen)
Maria hat vor einer Woche aufgehört Yoga zu machen.

hint

My version:


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 ;)

For some reason, Maria stopped doing Yoga a week ago.
Aus irgendeinem Grund hat Maria vor einer Woche aufgehört Yoga zu machen.

hint

My version:


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.

It didn’t stop raining.
Es hat nicht aufgehört zu regnen.

hint

My version:


Yuk, that doesn’t like a pleasant vacation. Let’s add the location, so people know where not to go

In Berlin, it didn’t stop raining.” (start with the place)
In Berlin hat es nicht aufgehört zu regnen.

hint

My version:

Awesome!
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.

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 ;)

Why do you stop?
Warum hörst du auf?

hint

My version:

And let’s make it a bit longer

Why do you stop drinking beer?
Warum hörst du auf Bier zu trinken?

hint

My version:

And let’s do the same in past tense… and a different drink

Why did you stop drinking milk?” (Milch)
Warum hast du aufgehört Milch zu trinken?

hint

My version:

And lets do another one that’s a bit longer

Why did Maria stop doing Yoga a week ago?
Warum hat Maria vor einer Woche aufgehört Yoga zu machen?

hint

My version:

Pretty easy.
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:

What are you going to stop (doing)?
Womit hörst du auf?

hint

My version:

Lets mix in the time…

What are you going to stop (doing) tomorrow?
Womit hörst du morgen auf?

hint

My version:

And let’s do it in past tense

What did Maria stop (doing)?”
Womit hat Maria aufgehört?

hint

My version:

And once again, but a bit longer

What did Maria stop (doing) a week ago?
Womit hat Maria vor einer Woche aufgehört?

hint

My version:

And last but not least, let’s do a really tricky one with a modal verb AND a negation… are you ready?

What do you not want to stop (doing)?
Womit willst du nicht aufhören?

hint

My version:


Sweet.
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.
All right.
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 :)

Imperativ

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:

Stop drinking my beer!
Hör auf mein Bier zu trinken!

hint

My version:

 

***

Please stop snoring!
Hör bitte auf zu schnarchen!

hint

My version:

And that’s it for today :)
Hooray!!

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.

 

EDIT:

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.

 

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lisa
lisa
23 days ago

Viel Spaß und sehr nützlich. Ich liebe die Sprechkomponente!

saprykina_n
saprykina_n
30 days ago

Viiiielen Dank! Hat mir so viel Spaß gemacht! :)

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

Ich fand die womit-Übungen besonders hilfreich. Vielen Dank dafür!

syperk
syperk
1 month ago

Ausgezeichnet!

Sehr nützlich!

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Echt toll danke sehr!

Charles
Charles
1 month ago

Ich kann es nicht hören.

Charles
Charles
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Es ist jetzt besser, ich kann jetzt hören. Konnte gestern nicht

Alan
Alan
1 month ago

Super klar, aber ich konnte nicht mitmachen, obwohl ich den Zugriff auf das Mikrofon erlaubt habe!

Alan
Alan
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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.

Alan
Alan
24 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Interesting! It doesn’t work on that link but works fine on Zoom and Teams. Confusing!

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

Super nutzvoll und hilfreich! Aber meine Aussprache für “trinken” gefällt der Maschine nie. :(

piano_playr
piano_playr
1 month ago

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.

Eli
Eli
1 month ago

The audio for this leaves out the “at three” part

Bissell
Bissell
1 month ago

I like the lay out. The dividers are nice.

cvickery
cvickery
1 month ago

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.

gallia_a
gallia_a
22 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hello Emanuel,
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

blanzynoise
blanzynoise
1 month ago

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!

Paul Ed
Paul Ed
1 month ago

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’

pmccann
pmccann
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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.

blanzynoise
blanzynoise
1 month ago

Hallo Emanuel!
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 %.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
1 month ago

Hallo lieber Emanuel,
Herztlichen Dank für diesen hilfreichen Artikel. Ich habe endlich gelernt wie womit benutzen!
Und möchte ich hinzufügen dass für das Satz ” Please stop snoring.” , also ” Bitte hörst auf zu schnarchen .” Du hast den vorher geschriebene Satz, zweimal identisch übersetz .
Bis Bald

api
api
1 month ago

Thanks for another cool article! I have some questions..
– The ” , ” is not required when I write with …zu…., for example, “Ich habe aufgehört, Bier zu trinken”?

– Can I say “Ich habe mit Kaffe aufgehört.” or “Ich habe damit aufgehört, Kaffe zu trinken” as well?
Danke im vorraus!

api
api
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke!

Pedram
Pedram
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hello and Thank you dear Emanuel

Are both of these two sentences correct and do they mean the same?

  • Hör bitte auf zu schnarchen!
  • Hör bitte mit Schnarchen auf!