Verbs with Prepositions

On this page you'll learn everything about verbs with preposition complements. Complements are grammatically necessary parts of a sentence. If you aren't sure what that means, take a look at this page on complements in the German language.

Verbs with Prepositions

Some verbs require prepositions to make sense and be grammatically correct.

Without the prepositions the verb doesn‘t work or has a different meaning.

The preposition always determines the case (dative/accusative/genitive).

Examples:

  • „Ich interessiere mich für das neue iPhone.“
    (The verb "sich interessieren" always uses the preposition "für." Without "für," the sentence is not correct.)
  • „Ich passe auf den Verkehr auf.“
    (The verb "aufpassen" always uses the preposition "auf."  Without "auf," the sentence is not correct.)

Some verbs even require two complements with two different prepositions:

  • „Ich spreche mit meiner Mutter über meinen Bruder.“
  • „Er bedankt sich bei ihr für das Geburtstagsgeschenk.

("Sprechen" and "bedanken" have 2 complements. When one piece of information is unknown or obvious, we can leave it out.  The prepositions determine the case.)

Questions with Prepositions

When formulating questions with verbs that use a prepositional complement, keep a few things in mind. First, when asking for the complement with the preposition, we must also include the preposition in the question.

Questions about People:

Translation for direct comparison: For whom do we wait? Who are we waiting for? / About whom are you thinking? / With whom do you dance? / With whom is he you talking? // About what are you dreaming? With what do you open the bottle? / About what are you thinking?

Questions about Things:

The question word is formed by "wo" + preposition.

For prepositions that start with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), we must include an "r".

These questions do not have anything to do with the single question "wo?" (Where?).

This variation is possible, even though it is very informal:

This variation is possible, even though it is very informal.

It is not so popular because it sounds a bit "dumb" or "uneducated".

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Summary

  • Some verbs use complements with prepositions.
  • That doesn’t mean that the verb doesn’t work without the preposition.
  • Without the preposition or with another preposition, the verb has a different meaning.
  • The preposition is obligatory for a certain meaning.
  • The preposition determines the case, and for questions, the preposition must also be integrated into the question word (Like in the formal, old-fashioned English).

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