German is well known for its long, compound words such as Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaft, for example. And much like it’s done with nouns, verbs can also be made up of several words that will end up with fairly predictable meanings most of the time.
Let's look at an example:
Verbs that are made up of a verb and a prefix are called trennbare verben (separable verbs). There are quite a few trennbare verben in German!How do separable verbs work in a sentence?
In the present tense, the prefixes are separated from the verb and placed at the very end of the sentence.
Ich stehe jeden Morgen um 7 Uhr auf.
I get up every morning at 7.
Wann stehst du jeden Morgen auf?
When do you get up every morning?
Common separable prefixes and their meanings
Just for the record, these sentences are grammatically incorrect:
Ich aufstehe um 7 Uhr.
Wann aufstehst du?
It is a very good idea to know the meanings of common prefixes to help you learn separable verbs quicker.
to clean up, to tidy up
to get up, to stand up
to go out
to switch off
to give back
to come back
to come together
to move in together
Because of the way they are constructed, it is possible that you might be able to guess words and say something that is actually a word! It doesn’t quite always work though. For example, ausgeben, doesn’t mean “to give out”, it means “to spend”.
But feel free to try it out...probiere es aus!