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.

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 :).

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.

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

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, hinzugebenand 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.

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.

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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