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:
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.