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Credit to Microsoft for the general template.

INSEPARABLE VERB PREFIXES:


BE-
| A HANDOUT BY DEUTSIAN.TUMBLR.COM |

Inseparable verb prefixes have a reputation for being awkward in German, since the meaning of the
prefix is not as clear-cut as one like zusammen-. However, there are some general principles as to
the meaning of such prefixes and here they will be explained. In this handout, we will look at the use
of be-.

MEANING 1: SIGNIFIES A CHANGE OF STATE, GIVING X A QUALITY OF Y, OR


PROVIDING X WITH Y

Example verbs: befeuchten (to wet/dampen), bebauen (to cultivate/farm), begasen (to
fumigate)
Example sentence: Briefmarken muss man vor dem Aufkleben erst befeuchten.
Translation: Postage stamps must first be wetted (licked) before being stuck down.

MEANING 2: SIGNIFIES A FORM OF CONTACT OR TOUCHING (EVEN METAPHORICAL)

Example verbs: begreifen (to grasp), bekommen (to receive), behandeln (to examine)
Example sentence: Kinder begreifen alle Gegenstnde, um sie zu verstehen.
Translation: Children grasp all objects in order to work them out.

MEANING 3: SIGNIFIES INTENSE OCCUPATION WITH AN ISSUE/ENGAGEMENT

Example verbs: begrnden (to justify), beklagen (to complain), belstigen (to harass)
Example sentence: Das mssen sie mir begrnden!
Translation: They need to justify that to me!

MEANING 4: TURNS INTRANSITIVE VERBS (NO OBJECT) INTO TRANSITIVE VERBS


(OBJECT POSSIBLE)

Example verbs: bedienen (to serve), beantworten (to answer), bewillkommen (to welcome)
Example intransitive sentence: Er diente seinem Herren (He served his master).
Example transitive sentence: Er bediente seinen Herrn das Essen (He served the food to his
master).

MEANING 5: SIGNIFIES A SHIFT IN FOCUS

Example verbs: bezahlen (to pay)


Example sentence Soll ich ihm diese Summe zahlen, oder soll ich sie besser an dich bezahlen
Translation: Should I pay him this amount, or should I Instead pay it to you?
This last meaning is rather uncommon hence why only one example is given, but of course there
may be more. This final meaning is also lost if you just use bezahlen alone e.g. Ich bezahle eine
Rechnung. A list of be- prefixed verbs can be found: https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Thesaurus:be-,
but now onto exercises!

EXERCISES

TASK WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TRANSLATION OF EACH BE- CORREC COMMENTS
WORD IS? T?

Ich bearbeite meine Videoprsentationen wann und wo ich see meaning 4


TASK WHICH ONE OF THEmchte.
WORDS FITS BEST IN THE CORREC ANSWER DEFINITION
SENTENCE? T? (+ SEE MEANING __)
Starke Regenflle behindern die Bauarbeiten. see meaning 3
Wlder beatmen/befischen/beirren die to ventilate/oxygenate
Wir wollen endlich unseren Rasen begrnen.
Atmosphre.
see
(4)meaning 1
Der Eingang (input) muss
Es befugt/becircet euchmit dem Sensor
weltweit beschalten
tauchen zu see meaning 2
to authorize (3)
werden.
gehen.
Dieberauben/bewerfen
Firma bemht sich, ihr Produkt zu verbessern. see meaning
(2) 3
Sie sich mit Steinen in to pelt [with]
Der Platz istihrer Freizeit.
sprlich mit Gras bewachsen. see meaning 1

Ihr mssthat
Durch Zauberei es die
mit Hexe
heiem alten Mann behext.
denWasser to pour water on/baste
see meaning 4
begieen/bedrucken. (1)
Die wertvollsten Dinge, die wir besitzen, sind in see meaning 2
Bekaufen/bekmpfen/befummeln
unserem Safe. wir die to fight (4)
Briten?
Answers: to work on, to impede/interfere with, to green/vegetate, to wire/connect, to strive for, to grow (over), to
bewitch, to own
Ihr sollt die Samen sofort neu to re-plant (1)
beregnen/bepflanzen!
Aktien sollen zuverlssig bemessen/betonen to calculate/assess (3)
werden.
Die Kamera hat den Film to expose [FOTO.] (2)
belichtet/bemehlt/belegen.
Answers: beatmen, befugt, bewerfen, begieen, bekmpfen, neu bepflanzen, bemessen, belichtet
Sometimes meanings do overlap, so for example to re-plant can be seen as both a form of
contact, but also a change of state. However, you should still be able to arrive at the answer
regardless!