Prefix Verbs Explained – “zugeben”

Hello everyone,

a welcome to a new episode of Prefix Verbs Explained, the longest and “gee-how-many-more-are-there”-est series ever; this time with a look at the meaning of



And this one is gonna be super uber mega short because zugeben is essentially a German learner’s wet dream come true. Why? Because it only has one …. oh…, hold on, I see we have a call here, hello German is Easy, you’re on the air.
“Hi Emanuel, so zugeben is Magic Mike Channing Tatum naked on a unicorn??? Because I’m a German learner and that’s my wet dream.”
Oh… uh… no, it’s not.
“Taylor Swift?”
NO! It’s so cool because it has only one meaning.
“Well, thanks a lot for getting me all excited for nothing (hangs up).”
Well… I’m sorry. I’m sorry that zugeben is not Magic Mike Channing Tatum and not Taylor Swift.
It does have something to do with guilty pleasures, though.

Or with guilty in general, because zugeben is the German word for to admit.

  • Du hast mein Bier getrunken, gib’s zu!
  • You drank my beer, admit it!
  • Komm, du musst zugeben, dass mein Gesang schon besser geworden ist.
  • Come on, you have to admit that my singing did improve.
  • “Du weißt nicht, ob sie wirklich heimlich deine Whatsapp-Nachrichten nachgeguckt hat.”
    “Doch, sie hat’s ja zugegeben.
    “Oh… “
  • “You don’t know if she really secretly read your WhatsApp messages.”
    “I actually do because she admitted it.”

Does this meaning for zugeben make sense? Well, kind of. The English admit is based on the Latin verb for to put (mittere) combined with the prefix a(d)- which expresses toward-ness. So literally, it is “to put to(ward)”. Zugeben is pretty the same, just that it’s with giving instead of putting; you “give to” the accuser, if you will. Admittedly, it’s not super obvious, but not completely lunatic, either.
Speaking of admittedly… let’s look at some examples for the related words :).

  • Zugegeben, das hier ist nicht gerade 3 Sterne Küche, aber es macht satt.
  • Granted, this isn’t 3 star cuisine, but it fills you up.
  • 100 Euro für eine Boxershorts ist zugegebenermaßen nicht billig, aber der Tragecomfort ist es wert.
  • 100 Euro for a pair of boxers admittedly isn’t cheap but the wearing comfort is worth it.

And then there’s the noun die Zugabe and this one actually has a different meaning than the verb. I mean… I guess it technically can mean admission (as in admission of guilt, NOT as admission to a museum or so). But the use for Zugabe is… at concerts. Zugabe is what people shout, when they want more.

  • Zugabe! Zugabe!
  • Encore! Encore!

At it’s core, Zugabe is about adding something and besides concerts you can also find it in the context of cooking.

  • Die Milch wird nun langsam unter Zugabe von Stärke erhitzt.
  • The milk is now to be slowly heated up while adding starch.

And that kitchen example brings us right to what we’ve been waiting for. Exactly… the… oh hold on, there’s another call. Let’s take that real quick. Hello, German is Easy, you’re speaking with Emanuel, what can I do for you?
“Hey Emanuel, it’s me again. Do you mean that kitchen examples brings us right to the sushi I ordered 45 minutes ago? Because that is no doubt what I am waiting for desperately… (hangs up) “
Uh… no, it doesn’t bring us to your Sushi. I meant the … uh… versions. The versions do have, in some way, something to do with Sushi, though because they sound Japanese: hinzu-version and dazu-version.

hinzugeben, dazugeben

Verbs with zu- as a prefix don’t have an r-version. That’s kind of to be expected since, unless you’re an Alien reptile, rzu- is hard to pronounce. But there’s also not a her-version for zu-verbs. “herzu” just never ever really was a thing. No idea why. Anyway, zu-verbs do usually have a hin-version and a da-version and they’re more or less the same as the r-version in that they’re a very literal, location-focused take on the prefix-verb-combo. So both, hinzugeben and dazugeben are about the idea of giving, adding something to something. As usual, the hinzu-version is a bit formal sounding and you’ll mostly see it in cook books. Dazugeben is more common in daily life.

  • Den Koriander sollte man erst ganz am Ende hinzugeben (dazugeben), da er sonst sein Aroma verliert.
  • The cilantro shouldn’t be added until the very end because it’ll lose its aroma otherwise.
    (I know that some of you are now like “Awesome, so right in the beginning then” ;)
  • “Wow, krasse Wohnung. Ist die nicht super teuer?”
    “Ja, ich kann das nur machen, weil meine Eltern mir was dazugeben.”
  • “Wow, crazy apartment. Isn’t that super expensive?”
    “Yeah, I can only do that because my parents pitch in.
  • Wir wollen John was zum Geburtstag kaufen. Willst du was dazugeben?
  • We want to get John something for his birthday. Do you want to pitch in?

The really idiomatic term for adding stuff while cooking is ranmachen (I’ll add a link to the article on that below), so this use of pitching in money is probably the most common context for dazugeben. Well, except for this one very, very common idiom. If you know a bit about German “cuisine” then you’ll know that there’s one thing Germans LOVE to add to stuff…
exactly!! Senf. Mustard.
Bratwurst mit Senf, Senfeier, Senfuccino™, Senfweizen… adding mustard is a very German thing to do and so it’s only fitting that it ended up in a very common idiom for another very German thing to do: always giving your little token of wisdom, your two cents to everything, even and ESPECIALLY if nobody gives a sh… oh, hold on, there’s another call, hello you’re on the air.
“Hey yeah, me again… so this is basically what I did today, right? Ich habe meinen Senf dazugegeben.”
Uh… yeah, actually, yes. That’s exactly what it is.
“You’re welcome for the practical example, then. Gotta go, my Sushi’s here.”
Uh… thank you, I guess. I… I’m confused. By the way, did you know Wasabi is a similar thing to mustard? Meh, anyways, let’s do one quick example for Senf dazugeben and wrap up.

  • Leute, die zu allem ihren Senf dazugeben, können echt anstrengend sein.
  • People, who feel the need to comment on everything, can be really exhausting.

And that’s it for today. This was our look at zugeben which is the German word for to admit.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment. And if you just want to give your Senf to it, you’re welcome too :).
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Senfuccino™ is a registered Trademark by Starbucks Germany

Further reading:

** zugeben – fact sheet **


to admit (NOT in sense of entrance)
to add (rare)


form of “haben” + zugegeben
gab zu

related words:

die Zugabe – the addition (rare), the encore (for concerts and similar stuff)
hinzugeben, dazugeben – add something to something

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1 month ago

Grüß dich

Ich frage mich, ob ich vielleicht Haarspalterei betreibe, aber ich sehe oft, dass geben ohne die Präfixe verwendet wird:

Ich gebe Olivenöl ins Wasser, wenn ich Pasta koche.

Ändert das Weglassen der Bedeutung? Wenn sie nicht verwendet werden, würde ihre Auslassung impliziert werden?

Helen Smith
Helen Smith
3 years ago

This is a very great explanation about the prefix verb.

5 years ago

Vielen Dank

5 years ago

Your little gesture of love has found me.
Thus,to the angels that donate towards
the admission of those of us who for one
reason or the other cant shoulder the cost
of being on here.
I am very grateful and immensely appreciate your
kind gesture.
Viel dank.

5 years ago

Thanks. I am just starting to read these articles and they are just so easy to understand. I also want to thanks to the peoplpe who donated for members that can’t really afford this! (like me) :) makes me really happy!

5 years ago

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Last edited 1 month ago by German-is-easy
5 years ago

How does “zugeben” compare to “(ein)gestehen”? Is it just more everyday/normal?

Also, just out of curiosity, who of the native Anglophones here would find “trunks” a normal term to translate “die Boxershorts”? I’d always say “boxer shorts” or just “boxers” for the underwear; to my American ear, “trunks” always sounds like non-Speedo men’s swim apparel.

5 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Agreed. In my American English, I would say “boxers.”

“A pair of trunks” makes me think of swimming trunks. I also think I would almost always say the full “swimming trunks” and not shorten it to just “trunks.”

Dung Nguyen
Dung Nguyen
5 years ago

Thanks a lot for your kindness, Herr Emanuel! I’m an asian student who is desperately learning German. I haven’t been provided any methods like this before, that’s why German is so hard to me. Then I found this page, 2 posts per week is not enough for me because I have to get B2 before this June. The problem is I can’t afford the fee eventhough I really really wanted to pay. But I just can’t. I needed help and sent an email to Herr Emanuel. You know what? He gave me a one-year subscription. That is amazing. He told me that some people had paid extra for the people like me, that made me so thankful. Thank you all for giving me this chance. See you someday in Germany :D

5 years ago

Vielen Dank nochmal für die ausführliche Erklärung! Als Deutschlerner bin ich aber ständig von der ungeheuren Menge von Synonymen überrascht… Und zwar, gibt es in dem Fall irgendwelchen Unterschied zwischen “hinzugeben” und “hinzufügen”?

5 years ago

Na ja, ich gebe zu, Ich hab’ getan als hätt’ ich Geld…

5 years ago

I’m guessing zugeben can be used with an indirect object, z.B., “Er hats mir später zugegeben, dass er die ganze Geschichte frei erfunden hatte.”

In the second example (du musst zugeben…), but not the first and third, the “es” was left out. Are there conventions for this?

5 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Immensely! What about a sentence like below? I’m sure I’ve heard something like this.

Mein Ziel ist es, mindestens 5 kg abzunehmen.

I guess it’s the difference between a “dass” clause and a “zu” clause? The latter doesn’t have a conjugated verb.

5 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

And a related one I’ve been noticing:

Das Projekt ist deswegen gescheitert, weil …