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Von vs Aus

Unlike English, the prepositions "von" and "aus" in German can take on multiple meanings depending on the context they are embedded in. In the following sentence "Er fliegt heute von hier aus zurück," why is "von" used to mean "from" a physical place? And why "aus" is used here when the intended meaning is to go back rather than to come from somewhere? Can we simply get rid of "aus" here?

October 21, 2017



Here 'aus' is not a preposition, but a prefix. "ausfliegen" -> "fliegt aus".

Such prefixes are related to English phrasal verbs: "The family took off for Florida". Here "take off", too, doesn't mean "take" something "off" something, it has its own distinct meaning. Incidentally, it changes the preposition, too: "The family went to Florida", but "The family took off for Florida".


Ah, the dreadful German separable prefixes, as Mark Twain famously put it: "The German grammar is blistered all over with separable verbs; and the wider the two portions of one of them are spread apart, the better the author of the crime is pleased with his performance” (https://www.fluentu.com/blog/german/german-prefixes/). Now not only does it make perfect sense to me, but also I feel good about not being alone in my struggle with the German grammar. :)


The question is very good. Here is the "von hier aus" is ONE PHRASE. It is necessary to notice the whole one in one. An example (from DUDEN): "von hier aus haben Sie einen Schönen Blick / you have a nice view from here." So its the meaning: from here / von hier aus. Hereupon we can translate the original sentence. :) This is "just" a specific problem. The general proposal: we have to use: https://www.duden.de (Duden ist DIE Instanz für alle Fragen zur deutschen Sprache und Rechtschreibung und bietet Wörterbücher, Lernhilfen und Ratgeber. / Duden is THE !!! authority for all questions about German language and spelling and offers dictionaries, learning aids and advice.) Good learning.


Vndik is quite right. I am native german speaker. And it is so: „von hier aus“ means that „hier“ is the starting point of the flight. And the verb is „zurückfliegen“. So the whole meaning is: the backflight starts from here.


...one more thing. :) I wrote in Duden's search engine: "von hier aus" The more we use the Duden, we know more at it. Well. :)


If you set the sentence to Futur you might get er wird heute von hier zurück ausfliegen, which suggests 'aus' is a prefix to the verb fliegen. I think this is correct.

  1. The Google does not find any "von hier zurück ausfliegen" but "hier zurück ausfliegen" either.
  2. It is possible to transform all sentences into an other optional sentence. :)
  3. The best German language publication Duden says "von hier aus" is an existing German expression.


Hmm, this makes a lot of sense to me too. So I guess "aus" can be considered a preposition or a prefix in this context. If considered a preposition, then it would suggest that the verb "fliegen" can stand alone without the prefix. This seems to be correct based on the Duden website you mentioned (https://www.duden.de/suchen/dudenonline/fliegen). Unfortunately, I don't know enough German to understand its explanation.


Interesting question Leigh. I think that they do sometimes do take on different meanings. There are words that do this in English. Now the sentence you said ''Er fliegt heute von hier aus zurück''. I'm not a native German speaking person so the way I would understand that is 'Today he is flying from here and then back'. I'm not sure what the 'aus' really means there. 'aus' Does sertainly take on different meanings some examples are 'Ich komme aus Australien' which means 'I come from Australia'. Also 'Das seiht aus wie Feuer' which means 'That looks like a fire'. So I think it's best just to learn the different meanings of the words in all the different contexts. I hope that helps



Shouldn't that be "Das sieht wie Feuer aus"?


There are (what I call) "semi-conjunctions" which can be used to (sort of) separate clauses. They generally come in separable verb/semi-conjunction pairs. The two main examples which come to mind are:

aussehen wie &

aufhören mit

Which means that you can have two perfectly acceptable sentences like this:

Das sieht aus wie Feuer
Das sieht wie Feuer aus; &

Hör auf mit diesem Unsinn!
Hör mit diesem Unsinn auf!

Final thing to note about these "semi-conjunctions" is that (from my experience) they are generally preferred; meaning you're more likely to hear a native German speaker say:

Das sieht aus wie Feuer

than you are to hear them say:

Das sieht wie Feuer aus.

Hope I could help.

P.S. I also spoke about this "phenomenon" here.


Word order is something way above my learning level (I just barely passed the Basic Level to be able to post questions here). I just learned that in a subordinate clause introduced by a conjunctive such as "dass," it sends the verb to the end of the clause. It's good to know that there's this other class of "semi-conjunctions" such as aus, which actually allow some flexibility when it comes to word order. Vielen Dank!


Bitte schön!
But please note that if you talk about "semi-conjunctions" to anyone other than me you'll get weird looks :P

And also, I wouldn't count "aus" as a "semi-conjunction", only because it only acts as one when it is part of the verb "aussehen".

Congrats on what you've done so far
und viel Spaß beim Deutschlernen!


Haha, okay, I won't talk to anyone else about "semi-conjunctions" other than you, but it helps me understand the flexibility of word order in some cases.

Oh, I didn't realize "aussehen" is another separable verb. Thanks again for pointing it out to me. I feel so intellectually challenged in learning German. It's great that I discovered this site where I can get expert support from people like you.

Danke schön!


Just checked with a native speaker and he confirmed both are correct and both are used equally in Germany. I had never seen "semi-conjunctions" before.

Glad that Duolingo and contributors can help clarify some of these issues.


Thanks so much for confirming this with a native speaker. I have been learning German by using platforms such as Skype and WhatsApp to engage in language exchange with native German speakers, but sometimes even native speakers can't be sure or can't explain why. I've found this Duolingo site to be a fantastic learning resource, thanks to the generous support from people like you. I am truly grateful for that.


If English were a little bit more like German, it would be like "Today he is outflying from here toback".


I'm sorry I didn't provide the complete context of the sentence in question because of space limitation. This sentence appears in the film "Im Labyrinth des Schweigens," which got me interested in learning the German language in the first place, even though I have visited Germany three times as a tourist. In the film, the sentence is meant to say "Today he is flying back from here," which is why I was so confused by the "aus" in the sentence. I didn't even dare to venture into the other meanings of "aus." After my initial exposure to German, I have the utmost respect for the German people because it takes an intellect to master the language. I have a PhD but feel so humbled by the complexity of the German language.


'Aus' is connected to the verb 'fliegen' - ausfliegen. The 'aus' here is directed at von hier, as in * flying away (aus) from here*. It's not directed at 'zurück', which is the destination.

Today he is flying back (away) from here. Sort of. The whole sentence gets doppelt gemoppelt which tend to happen in German.


Interesting! I learned a new German phrase "doppelt gemoppelt" today. That aus is associated with "von hier" rather than " zurück" also makes much more sense because I was really confused why aus (from) was used when back (to) was intended. Danke!

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