Words of the Day – “von … aus”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And today, it’s actually two words because we’ll take a look at the meaning of the combination

von… aus

 

The idea for this came when someone recently asked a comment about the phrase “von Natur aus” and why there was an aus in there.
At first, I was gonna use answer 3b from the “Lazy German teachers’ Handbook” …

“I can’t explain that. It’s a fixed phrase and you have to learn it.”

… but then I realized that it’s actually kind of a useful phrasing that can even get you laid, or a raise if you say it in the right moment.
So let’s take a look.

If we analyze the phrasing, it’s actually pretty redundant. Von is a preposition that expresses origin…

And aus is also a preposition that expresses origin…

But there are differences between them, of course. In short, aus has a focus on exiting, emerging while von is more about leaving a point of origin and usually, German makes a really big deal about when to pick which one.
But German also loves to troll its learners and thought it would be really funny to use them in combination.
English actually has something really similar.

  • from here on out

This is actually even worse because we have three prepositions.
But this is pretty much a fixed phrase. The German von … aus is actually a construction that we can use and modify for real locations.

That last one is particularly tricky, because the aus is at the end and most learners will try to connect it to the verb somehow. Outstanding job, German! If your goal was to confuse people, then you’ve definitely achieved it.
“Well, thank you.”
Oh, you’re welcome, German. Would you maybe care to tell us if there’s any difference between von… aus and just a plain von?
“Hmm, I don’t know… I didn’t put that much thought into it, to be honest…. maybe the extra aus adds a subtle vibe of outreach. Like, the von introduces the point of origin, and the aus adds a vibe of reaching out. But it’s really subtle.”
So you’re saying that it’s mostly personal preference and a pure von is never wrong?
“Yup, 100%.”
Cool, thanks German.
Now, German just said that it 100% doesn’t matter. But we all know what that that’s code for “There’s a bunch of exceptions where it does matter.”
And von… aus is no different. There are a few phrasings or contexts where we really need von… aus. And they’re actually kind of useful, so let’s take a look.

The one that’s most connected to actual location is for talking about left and right in relation to yourself.

You could also say mein links oder dein links, but the phrasing in the example is more idiomatic.
Next up, we have the one that we’ve already mentioned in the intro: von Natur aus.

The translation depends a bit on context and can be naturally, inherent or by nature but the idea is always that something is “how it came out of nature”. So it’s pretty straightforward, I think.
That’s not really the case for the next phrasing. Or at least, it’s not as obvious.
Take this sentence about the incredibly rare occurence of Thomas cleaning the kitchen.

Obviously, we have a self reference here and since it’s behind von, it’s of course in Dative case. Because von wants Dative. Now, if we go by what we’ve learned, this means that he himself was the “point of origin” for the cleaning. And that is not too far from the actual sense. Which is that he did it out of his own drive, without anyone telling him to. The idea is inner drive, but it’s kind of hard to find a good translation. Neither voluntarily nor self-motivated really do the job, but I think you got the idea.

And this kind of brings us right over to the last use for today and to how von… aus can get you whatever you want, if you use it in the right moment.
If your German boss is like: “Hey, willst du mehr Geld?”
you can just answer: “Von mir aus.”
And katching. Money in da bank!! You can thank me financially via Paypal.
Seriously though… von mir aus is a really common, really good way to express that you’re okay with something. The translation and vibe hugely depends on context and how you say it and it can range from genuine approval to actually expressing loathing.

Does that tie in with the “normal” use of von… aus? I think it does. Von mir aus kind of says “from my point of view”.
However, I want to stress that it’s NOT used as a general way to talk about opinion.
Like, you wouldn’t use it to say what you think about a movie. And you wouldn’t use it to ask someone’s opinion.
Meiner Meinung nach is the go-to phrasing for that.

You can think of von mir aus as a fixed phrasing that expresses that you’re fine with something – be it genuinely, or ironically.
And even though that seems to be rather limited, the phrasing is pretty common and it’s absolutely worth adding it to your active vocabulary.

And that’s it for today :). This was our look at the phrasing von… aus, and I am sure you’ll now start seeing it in German.
If you want to check how much you remember and also test yourself with some tricky sentences, you can take the little quiz I have prepared.
And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment. Also for the quiz, by the way. As silly as they seem sometimes, there are some tricky questions in there designed to give you some deeper understanding. But sometimes, my questions just suck. So if you’re confused by something in the quiz, please please ask.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, have a great week and see you next time.

further reading:

von … her

for members :)

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jackschmidt
jackschmidt

Hallo,

Wissen Sie dass es keinen PDF Link gibt? Können Sie das bitte hinzufügen?

Elsa
Elsa

Helloooo,
Sorry for the delay, it’s Saturday so I had Deutsch Unterricht and couldn’t contribute with the corrections earlier :)
So, without further ado:
“lighthouse” is just the one word
“but I the idea is always” (I think?)
“straightforward” is also just one word, no hyphen
“call by yourself/on your own accord” (“by yourself” doesn’t quite convey the right meaning here, although it’s not outright wrong; the other option is much better but the preposition is “of”, as in “of your own accord”. Another option is “on your own initiative”.
“you treat me for three beers” (you treat me to three beers)
“you’ll now start seeing in German” (you’ll now start seeing it in German”)

I don’t know how I did it, but I got all quizz questions right!
But you have “Thomas erzählt die Geschichte von sich aus erzählt” in question 5 (the second “erzählt” is surplus, right?)

Bro-gurt naturally contains testosterone is absolutely correct and idiomatic :) Another way would be to say that Bro-gurt is a natural source of testosterone!
Does Sis-gurt naturally contain oestrogen then?

Just to clear up the dative, would the sentence above be “Du erzählst die Geschichte von dir aus” if it were you and not Thomas? (third-person singular is always confusing for reflexive dative!)

Schoenes Wochenende!

Joan
Joan

Toller Eintrag!

Beim Lesen eines Buches habe ich vor kurzem den Ausdruck “von wo aus [jemand etwas machte]” getroffen.

Ich habe das als “whence” bzw. “from where” übersetzt, aber ich frage mich… klingt das eher literarisch, oder verwendet man es auch im Alltag? z.B “Ich bin zunächst zu meinem Bruder gegangen, wo von aus wir zusammen unsere Mutter besucht haben”. Wie würde man das sonst sagen? Vielleicht “…und von dort aus haben wir…”?

Vielen Dank nochmals für den Blog!

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Ein sehr hilfreicher Untericht. Danke Emanuel.
Ich habe eine Frage im bezüglich der Unterhaltung zwischen Maria und Thomas :
Maria :lass un zum Oper gehen.
Thomas: von mir aus .
Wann sagt er “von mir aus” , bestimmt er vollkommen oder sagt er es so halbherzig ?
Nochmal vielen Dank .

Ubungmachtdenmeister
Ubungmachtdenmeister

There was one missing here that I expected to see here. Last time I heard it was in the phrasing gehen wir davon aus, which pretty much meant (how I took it anyway) – we take it that or assume etc.

Anyway super hilfreich wie immer. If I get time I might do the exercises. Been meaning to renew my membership here anyway.

Mach weiter so

lostindesert
lostindesert

HI, sorry I totally do not get the last question. Isn’t the last use of aus done in the way it is connecting to aussehen? It seems one could totally remove the phrase “von Picasso”, and it works. Sorry, just not getting this one that well.

Bori
Bori

Super nützlicher Beitrag, danke! Ich wundere mich… warum ist es nicht ‚von ihm aus’ statt ‚von sich aus’? Ich habe etwas Ähnliches schon gehört, wie z.B er hat xy bei sich auch, aber es ist ganz verwirrend, denn Dativ ist normalerweise ‚mir dir ihm ihr‘ etc (wenn es kein reflexives Verb) ..also ich würde von mir aus nicht sich wählen :D (passt von mir aus in diesem Context?)

Bori
Bori

Hehe, Das stimmt..ich habe den Beitrag gelesen und 10 Minuten später habe ich ein Plakat mit von zu Hause aus darauf geschrieben gesehen

DEmberton
DEmberton

I’d have certainly thought “Ich arbeite von Zuhause aus” was separable, looked up ausarbeiten which dict.cc says is to elaborate, and translated that as “I elaborate from home”. Which makes no sense. But what about “Ich gehe von etwas aus”? I’ve always struggled to make sense of how that connects to ausgehen, but I guess it doesn’t. This seems to be one of those times that you learn a key piece of information that allows you to make a big step forward in your language understanding, and that you wish somebody had told you years ago.

fairyhedgehog
fairyhedgehog

That was really fun, despite a total absence of unicorns!

Ruth
Ruth

I haven’t read the article yet, just want to say “yes, please” to the offer to tell us about the Faroes (and the Faroese language?) when you get back. Have a wonderful time.

Ruth
Ruth

In places where cricket is played “von sich aus” would be “off his own bat”. A little history and explanation can be found here https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/off-his-own-bat.html

Pentatomidae
Pentatomidae

Thank you for the link Ruth. I was going to suggest “off his own bat” but didn’t know where it came from. Such a useful phrase! But not as useful as “von mir aus” will be I suspect.

Graham
Graham

I think a correct translation of „Thomas hat von sich aus die Küche aufgeräumt.“ would be „Thomas cleaned up the kitchen on his own“ (at least, that‘s how I would say it), but the English is ambiguous. Sentences like „He did it on his own.“ in English require some context to get the meaning. It’s not uncommon when the speaker realises that what he has just said is ambiguous to add something like “on his own accord” or “of his own volition”. Far more clunky than the German!

Andreas Gugau
Andreas Gugau

Dein Englisch ist Scheiße!!!

Turtles
Turtles

I only did the first question wrong

Let’s have a nice Unicorn convo

E1: Von mir aus bin ich Schöne
E2 : Was? Du sieht aus wie eine explodierte Tomate. Vielleicht sollst du von dir aus aufrichtig sein
E1 : Von mir aus kannst du das sagen.

aoind
aoind

Standard marketing speak for “naturally contains” would be either “naturally high in” or “a natural source of”.

And perhaps more contemporary phrasing for “on one’s own initiative” or “of one’s own accord” might be “unprompted” (although that’s a bit stiff too), or variations on “without being told to”.

Isaque
Isaque

Hallo,

Im new here and I must say Im impressed by the quality of the content. Really glad to join this community and thank everyone who helped me to have a student account.

Bosko24
Bosko24

Hallo Emanyel ich habe ein paar Fragen an dich. Und zwar welche Sinonyme benutz man in Deutschland fur Geld. Ich kenne die Kohle, aber gibt es mehr also was benutz man in der Strasse? Und welche Sinonyme gibt es fur das Portemonnaie. Danke im Voraus MfG

Aaya
Aaya

you’re really not letting the whole Parasite thing go, aren’t you? haha

Raiean
Raiean

Hallo liebe Freunde und Freundinnen.
Danke für Ihre Hilfe. Ich muss Ihnen sagen dass ich Ihre Hilfe nie vergessen werde.
Ich freue mich sehr auf zusammen Deutsch zu lernen.

Zhao
Zhao

Danke alle, die ein kleine Zusatz bezahlen. Deine Gefälligkeit ist sehr hilfreich.