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An awesome explanation for the be prefix.

So I was wondering why in some cases be + verb seemed to be the same as just the verb. Turns out, it's more than be making the verb... stronger.

Here are a few examples from https://yourdailygerman.com/2013/03/13/german-prefixes-explanation-be/

Ich male meine Katze. I paint my cat. This means that I paint a picture of my cat.

Ich bemale meine Katze. I paint my cat. This means that I put color on my cat. I inflict painting on my cat. Now, let’s take kleben.

Ich klebe meine Vase, denn sie war kaputt. I glue my vase, cause it was broken. Ich beklebe meine Vase, denn sie ist hässlich. I put stickers or stuff on my vase using glue, because it is ugly. So I inflict gluing on my vase.

Die Eile is the German word for the hurry. So sich beeilen is inflicting hurry on oneself… or simply… to hurry.

Ich muss mich beeilen. I have to hurry.

Bewegen means to move. The core of bewegen is der Weg (the way, path) so bewegen is to inflict way on something or someone.

It's rather simple, but also very clever if you think about it. Just like the compound words.

October 22, 2017



FrawaradR's comment sounds very authoritative indeed. I am impressed, especially with 'be'lieve', I have often wondered about old English words like 'lieve' or 'lief' where did they come from, where did they go to? Now, I am beginning to understand (be'ginning???)


I think there is a further role for the prefix "be-". It can convert an intransitive verb to a transitive. For example, "antworten" is intransitive and using it one has to use a preposition with an object - antworten auf die Frage. (Hoping "auf" takes accusative in this context) "Beantworten" on the other hand is transitive and one needs no preposition "Ich beantworte die Frage". There are many such examples. Native speakers - can you help?


achten auf x = x beachten
zweifeln an y = y bezweifeln
Rücksicht nehmen auf x = x berücksichtigen


I just saw bereisen. Reisen means to travel. Bereisen means to tour. It's like traveling but more deep than traveling. :D

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