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  5. "Ich lese ihm ein Buch vor."

"Ich lese ihm ein Buch vor."

Translation:I read him a book.

October 11, 2013



Native English speaker here. Vorlesen is to read a book out loud. Personally I think it sounds best to say "I read a book out loud to him"

This was marked incorrect though.


I would agree that "I read a book out loud to him" makes perfect sense in English, it has an identical meaning to the much simpler "I read him a book."

In English the difference between reading silently to yourself and out loud to another person is implied by our inability to read quietly to someone else. Seems to me like German explicitly expresses the difference between a quiet inner monologue while reading and reading out loud.


Which is stupid. One can't read to someone silently. There is a distinction that doesn't need to me made.


But you can read out loud to yourself. I'm gathering the German "lesen" means "to read" while "vorlesen" means "to read out loud" . . . is that right?


Vorlesen means: to read out loud or to read (something) to someone


Yes and no :) "vorlesen" means to read to somebody else. If you read on your own, then it is "lesen".

The word "loud" is a tricky thing and you can argue if the English translation should inlcude "loud" or not. From one side - if you read to someone else, you must read it out loud. But from the other side - there is no need to overemphasize "loud", if the German is just "vorlesen". After all you can also say in German "laut vorlesen".

Therefore it is better to use "loud" in English only in the case if it is also present in the German sentence:

  • Schatz, bitte lies mir den Brief vor = Honey, please read me the letter;
  • Schüler Smith, bitte lies den Brief laut vor = Student Smith, please read the letter out loud.


@Laruthell: according to my understanding "ich lese [etwas] laut" is the normal phrasing.

Just for every case I posted a question to the discussion board and let's see what the native speakers will say about "vorlesen".

EDIT: I got an explanation on the discussion board at https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23562923 and I found a similar question in the Internet at https://www.gutefrage.net/frage/laut-lesen-oder-laut-vorlesen

To sum it up: normally you don't need to include this "to myself" part in German, because the meaning is already implied in the phrase "ich lese etwas laut". But if you really want to include this "to myself" then you have to use "vorlesen".

"Ich lese mir den Text (laut) vor" or "Ich lese den Text für mich selbst (laut) vor".


This is helpful, thank you!

Just curious, how would you translate,

  • I'm reading to myself out loud


But it is common in English to say I read the book to him out loud.


"I read a book out loud to him" was my answer as well.

The only reason it was marked wrong is because DL's "correct" solution is wrong. It says (one of) the correct solutions is "I read a out loud to him." In my answer, the word "book" was highlighted as incorrect.


But is it necessary to say "out loud" when there is no other way of reading it to another person? Not an native speaker but it still makes more sense to me to drop the unnecessary words when possible. Almost like saying "dead skeletons" or "eatable meal".


I agree with you

  • 1175

Could this sentence not work and mean the same thing without "vor"? If I just said "Ich lese ihm ein Buch" what would it mean? Would it not mean " I read him a book."?


If you read a book you generally do not speak the words you are reading. If you read a book out loud to others then you require the "vor". There does not seem to be the same ambiguity in German about this as there is in English. I am not sure how you would express a situation where you are in a team of book reviewers and you were reading a book for someone else (because they did not have time) so you would not be reading out loud in that scenario.


That's kinda what I was thinking too, what (other than for confusion sake) is truly the purpose of the... Vor?


How do you read a book to him silently? The "aloud" part is not needed in English. Maybe it is needed in German because of vorlesen. In the end, this is a computer. Parsing language is a very difficult task. I go with the easiest answer and take note of the subtleties in my head.


that's a good note


"Lese ... vor" = read aloud. "I am reading him a book aloud" = a mistake. Hmmm.


Unlike English, you can say "read to someone" and that would be a correct sentence. Saying "read out loud to someone" probably has emphasis. The reason that answer is not accepted is that "I am reading him a book aloud" translates to "Ich lese ihm laut vor".


This word vor doesn't seem to be needed. and when you put the meaning it's supposed to have you get it wrong. . What is it for?


It's part of the separable verb "vorlesen" which means "to read aloud"


Yet if you put "I read him a book aloud" it gets marked wrong...


Hmm, well I'm not a native speaker but here's what I think: They use "lesen" when someone is reading just to himself When it's "vorlesen" they're reading it to someone else (hence it must be loud) But in English its usually just said "to read" in both situations with no need to add aloud so maybe that's why they mark it wrong. I dunno really, this is pure speculation :)


Could you say " ich vorlese ihm ein Buch", without separating the verb vorlese?

[deactivated user]

    If a separable verb is conjugated, you have to separate the prefix to the end of the sentence. So, no.


    "I read a book for him" - that's what a parent might say when they read a child a bedtime story, and the child has picked the book/story to read.


    That's what I said to though I'm not a native speaker. Can a native English speaker explain why "I read a book for him" is incorrect ? Why would "I read a book to him" be the sole answer ?


    The sentences have very different meanings.

    to do something for someone =

    • 1) to do something because someone requests it, or out of love/kindness for that person

    • 2) to do something in someone's place, because the person him/herself is unable

    to do something to someone =

    • 1) to perform an action of which the other person is the recipient.

    So, "I read a book for him" means either that he wanted me to read one, and because of that I did so (whether I did so out loud or in private is completely ambiguous), or that he needed to read a book, but he was unable, so I read it instead.

    "I read a book to him" just means that I read a book, and he listened.


    "I read a book for him" is fine, but it would probably be a short book and read to a child. The sentence also has connotations of having read the book in private because he suggested it to you or because he wanted you to learn from it. "I read a book to him" is less ambiguous and you're definitely reading out loud to him.


    It's just the "...vor" that gets me here. Ich lese ihm ein Buch = I read [to] him a book, easy enough, but vor = before/infront of? Could the "vor" be completely omitted?

    "Ich lese ihm ein Buch", makes sense to me now as I often see the English words "to" and "of" completely bypassed. eg "Der Mann gibt eine Schüssel Wasser dem Hund" = "The man gives a bowl [of] water [to] the dog".


    "Vorlesen" is a separable prefix verb which can mean "to read, to read aloud, to read (something to someone)".

    In German, these separable prefix verbs put the prefix at the end when conjugated. For example, "aussehen" becomes "Ich sehe . . . aus" where the ellipsis is anything else in the sentence.


    Spot on! Thanks. It's obvious really, I just totally couldn't see it. Perfect example too.


    I think the difference is that one word is for.... As in doing something like reading a book for someone else (a readers group) , rather than reading it to them like you would a child


    Why is 'vor' used? Why can't it be 'Ich lese ihm ein Buch'? And why not 'ihn'? Sorry, I am just an english speaker!


    vorlesen is to read out loud to someone -- and the "to someone" is in the dative case ihm.


    Couldn't it be "I read him a book first"? As in "Before doing anything else I read him a book"?


    No. Because your translation would imply that "ich lese ihm ein buch" is a correct sentence.

    Unlike English, you can use "read" to describe reading to someone. (Cause "to someone" specifies the context in which the verb is used.)

    In German "lesen" means reading to yourself and "vorlesen" means reading out loud (to someone else) and the subjects of the sentence play no part in specifying the context of the verb.


    It's "before" as in "in front of", not as in sequence.


    Let's assume there had been a context, like: I go to bed.....I read him a book prior to/before. This was my answer since DL explained in this lesson that VOR means ahead of/before. Can this be correct in the above context? Then I read the comments: vor.....lese = read out loud


    "I am reading him a book aloud" is accepted


    Really? I honestly think it shouldn't be accepted cause saying "aloud" has emphasis and "I am reading him aloud" should only translate to "ich lese ihm laut vor". (I just noticed that this comment is from 6 years ago LOL)


    in another sentence "vor" was translated as "before". in this sentence "vor" is translated as "aloud". ????


    vorlesen = etwas (Geschriebenes, Gedrucktes) [für jemanden] laut lesen (ihm für jemanden )
    please think logically ,but not too much
    1.. no need of laut . WHY ? Because you can't read to someone else silently . 2. if you read to yourself ,; You have to(must) use the word vorlesen . WHY ? Because you read to someone else . That means to yourself 3. if you read to yourself silently ; You have to use the word lesen . WHY ? Because if you read silently you can't read to someone else ,that means only the subject of the sentence can do the reading . > if you read loud then someone else will hear you , that means you read to someone else and then you use the word vorlesen


    Was there a separate lesson on separable prefix verbs that I missed? why are they popping out all of a sudden? the only reason I even know about separable prefix verbs is from all of you graciously explaining that they exist.


    especially in a lesson where they use the single word "vor" as a primany part of the lesson its so confusing b/c your trying to learn "vor to mean before/in front of" then they give you this with "vorlesen" but separated, having never introduced the word vorlesen before so it's a new word and it separates into a word actively being taught in the lesson. so annoying, but thank god for the people here expaining and actually teaching launguage.

    • 1175

    No, for whatever reason, this is just the way Duo always does things... If you think random inexplicable syntax manifestations with no foundational or establishing lessons is bad, don't look at the Japanese lessons. Oof...


    What is vor good for?


    What is vor good for?

    It's the separable prefix of vorlesen, which is the verb you use for reading out loud to someone.


    I wrote I read for him a book is that correct?


    so "lesen" is to read for yourself, and "vorlesen" is to say the words out loud?


    Is "I read to him" wrong in English?


    it's wrong as a translation as it fails to mention book


    Well, I said: "I read to him from a book" and that failed too.

    To be fair to DL, trying to cover all forms of natural language with a set of algorithms is probably verging on the impossible.


    Well, I said: "I read to him from a book" and that failed too.

    Yes. That would be Ich lese ihm aus einem Buch vor.

    It implies that you did not read the entire book to him, but only a portion -- maybe one story out of a book of fairy tales.


    "ihm" and "im" sound the same to me sigh


    Actually they're not. LOL "ihm" is longer and the i sounds like "E" but in "im" it sounds more like an "eh". I'm so bad at explaining


    How about "I read a book aloud for him"?


    The reason that answer is not accepted is that "I am reading him a book aloud" translates to "Ich lese ihm laut vor".

    In English "to him" specifies the context in which the verb "read" is used but in German you have to use the correct verb form. "vorlese" for reading to someone and "lese" for reading for yourself. So saying "aloud" probably has some sort of emphasis.


    What would "I read a book in front of him" be in German? Thanks.


    Ich lese ein Buch vor ihm, I think. The vor is no longer attached to lesen, and is used as a preposition instead.


    I put in "I read to him a book" but DL didn't accept it and I don't know why. Any ideas?


    That may be correct, but it sounds rather unnatural.

    English tends to omit the preposition "to" when the Dative (Indirect Obj) comes before the Accusative (Direct Obj).


    It was marked wrong, yet the correction said the same thing


    Why vor is at the end of the sentence?

    • 1175

    There are scattered explanations to that in this thread. The short answer is it has something to do with the separable verb "vorlesen" (to read aloud).

    The simplest way I use to understand this sentence is by translating it as "I read a book to/for (vor) him".


    Is it possible to ommit the verb "vorlesen" and rather say: "Ich lese ein buch für ihm"?


    "Ich lese ein Buch für ihm" would mean that you are reading a book in his stead and not to him. Vorlesen means you are reading (aloud) to him - which also may be for him because he cannot, but that is not stated and cannot be determined without more information.


    vorlesen = read aloud takes the akk, thus Ich lese ihn ein Buch vor. What's the function of 'vor', what's the object of that preposition if the verb is simply lesen?


    "I read him a book before" was incorrect! :( This makes no sense to me


    No. Because your translation would imply that "ich lese ihm ein buch" is a correct sentence.

    Unlike English, you can use "read" to describe reading to someone. (Cause "to someone" specifies the context in which the verb is used.)

    In German "lesen" means reading to yourself and "vorlesen" means reading out loud (to someone else) and the subjects of the sentence play no part in specifying the context of the verb so you have to use the correct verb form.

    Note: "vor" here is a separable prefix and that's why it goes to the end of the sentence.


    Maybe this sentance would have fit better in a catagory about seperable (sp?) prefixes and not in one about prepositions. I was tripped up even though I have previously learned about those because I was looking for a preposistion. Just a thought.


    Why can't you say "Ich lese ihm ein Buch"?

    [deactivated user]

      I am reading a book to him out loud is now accepted, at least it works for me


      This sentence makes me realize I don't understand word order at all. Why is there a preposition dangling at the end?


      The separated part of the verb ends up at the end of the sentence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separable_verb#Structural_analysis


      Vorlesen is a separatable verb that with a direct object (Buch) mean read aloud. "Ihm" the indirect object (to him) the recipient subject-verb-direct object. "Für ihm" would be incorrect because Für is a preposition that only takes a direct object , ie accusative.


      "I read him a book before" is what I wrote and it has marked that wrong. It is something I would say as a native Australian speaker if someone asked me "Did you read him his bedtime story?".

      In the previous lesson I had "vor" meant before.


      Here, vor is the separable prefix of the verb vorlesen, which means (more or less) "to read out loud".

      It's the verb used when you are reading a story that another person is listening to.

      So Ich lese vor = I am reading (out loud); ich lese ihm ein Buch vor = I am reading him a book.


      As another Aussie struggling with this one, I'm also translating this in my head as the old phrase "before him", meaning "in front of" (as in "They sang before the crowd" kind of phrase). But that by itself is confusing, as before also means earlier in time, and this lesson sprang up in prepositions, and read and read (present and past tense) are the same in english, this is probably all adding to my confusion.

      I need a better way to explain this separable verb to myself. The other posts on this forum are helping a little, but I'm still not quite there yet.


      Why is not corect"I'm reading the book to him"? Thanks


      Why is not corect"I'm reading the book to him"? Thanks

      ein Buch is "a book", not "the book".


      Getting things down to idiot level ... why is "vor" at the end when the sentence looks complete without the word. Must admit that I find these little words stuck at the back of sentences quite mistifying.


      Duo really needs to move split words earlier in their lessons. The answer given was "I read him a book", which is what I said and was correct. "Vor" seemed pointless here, especially without knowing that it was actually "vorlesen". I've encountered this many times so far and it's confusing every time. Who has the power to tell Duo to reorder their lessons?

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