Hi, please tell me the purpose of "an" at the end of sentences such as....Ich rufe morgen an

According to GT, "an"means to, at, on, by

I'm wondering if it's a filler or just a German quirk that we just have to accept


Hi Grant

You are correct about the dictionary meanings but they only apply when the 'an' is being used as a word in it's own right. 

In your example the 'an' is a separable prefix which is attached to the front of a basic verb to give it a different meaning. There are a couple of dozen common words used as prefixes used in German but 'ordinary' words can also be used as prefixes too as well as some 'non words' like (be..., ver... etc). Prefixes which are real words are separable and those which are not are inseparable. Sometimes prefixes change the meaning of the basic verb just a little bit and sometimes they make it completely different. This is a big subject and takes a hell of a lot of getting used to and learning, especially for native English speakers. In the case of your sentence:

The verb in your sentence is the separable verb anrufen, meaning to call on the telephone (as opposed to the basic verb rufen which simply means to call).  

When verbs with separable prefixes are used in the present tense the separable bit drops off and goes to the end of the sentence. Ich rufe morgen an.

Another example is fernsehen, which is a separable verb meaning to watch television (from the verb sehen, meaning to see or to look). In German 'I am watching television' would be 'Ich sehe fern'.

Hope this helps a bit. There are further explanations and examples in the Level 2 course. Personally I can't understand how anybody can ever learn German, not even the Germans themselves, but they clearly do! 



Hey thanks Fred for that explanation. I think it sums it up pretty well, sorry it's been a while since I replied to your answer.
I have another curly one. I have just started the level 2 course by the way...
The sentence..
"Die jungen Eltern passen auf das kleine kind auf"
Can anyone tell me why there is an extra "auf" at the end and what it supposed to mean?



Hi Grant

It is from another separable verb, aufpassen, meaning to watch over or to pay attention .

The sentence basically means 'The young parents are paying attention to the small child' or 'The young parents watch out for the little child' although, as always with German, other similar translations along the same line would be possible. 

There are two points worth remembering in this one: 

Firstly, whenever you ever come across 'stray' words at the end of a German sentence consider the possibility that there is a separable verb lurking in there .

Secondly, bear in mind that lots of actions in German take place on (auf) the subject e,g. 'Warten Sie auf mich!'- meaning 'Wait for me!' rather than 'Wait on me!' (which is probably how Shakespeare would have said it). That explains the first 'auf' in your sentence. 

Don't worry about the speed of your replies and good luck with Level 2. I am about half way through Level 2 but am taking it slowly now as the German is getting quite complicated, I am busy with other things (retirement is hell) and I have a memory like a goldfish.


Awesome Fred, again, nicely explained, yes I didn't think of aufpassen
Seems like you've got a good grasp of the deutsche Sprache


Hi again Grant

I am lucky enough to go to Germany fairly regularly to teach English in a German state school (as a volunteer) so it helps to know a bit of German.  My reading and writing is reasonable enough but I have given up any expectation of ever speaking German fluently. Unfortunately, and as you are no doubt discovering, even when you can remember the right words the grammar is a real swine to wrap your brain around. I will happily settle just for being understood most of the time and Rocket German appears to be the most likely way of achieving this relatively modest goal. I also use a few other free resources from the net.

Why are you learning German?  



G'day Fred
I tasted the language learning bug around 4 years ago when I trialed Spanish on Rocket Languages. I never bought a subscription, I was always gambling my money away at the casino but that's another story altogether. 
I found it quite interesting and tried to impress the lads at work with conversing (at a pretty simple level) with an El Salvadorian fella that was fairly new to the English language. I tried to make him fill a bit more at home as well and communicating with him was great, even though I would stuff up a fair bit which was funny, but he sure did appreciate it as well. I don't know why I didn't continue with my Spanish. It was definitely easier than German. I think my gambling got in the way a bit ( I have since stayed away from my ghastly addictive disease)
Now, the reason I decided to learn German? Well, I have got to know a few German native speakers who left Germany quite some time ago and are quite fluent in English. They are Jehovah's Witnesses and I see them regularly at the meetings. I don't talk to them that often but when I do I would like to converse with them in their native language so I decided to give German a go. 
I do find German quite interesting and quite hard sometimes but I would love to have it as a skill and not to mention impress people as well.
It's interesting that when I attempt to talk to ones from the Bavarian area of Germany, they can understand me quite well but when I talk to the much older Austrian couple they struggle to understand me and correct me quite a bit, with good intentions though!
I have tried learning German using Italki (skype) using a variety of teachers and community tutors but I seem to struggle with the listening part. I do ask them to slow down and most of the time they do but I still need to work on it quite a bit. It can be quite frustrating at times on skype but I believe if you can get the right teacher for you it can work out quite well. Of course, the money side can be an issue as well. Our dollar in Australia has been quite weak for a few years now and if it was up around par US I would be using Italki more often

BTW, it must have been a real experience teaching English in Germany. How did you go with communicating in German? Did it go down alright? Did they understand you? What were your biggest challenges with communicating?



Hi Grant

Sorry about the delay but I don't necessarily manage to get to the forum every day.

I probably do have the edge on most people because I get to Germany regularly. I do get the occasional opportunity to speak to Germans here in England too as I live in a small town on the south coast which lots of foreign tourists come through. I also use a few other apps on a tablet, like Duolingo and King of German Articles Pro, so that I can practice vocabulary while I slob out. 

My German has gone from comic book WW2 villain (i.e. virtually non existent) to mostly understood in about five years. The most noticeable improvement has been over the past year though and Rocket German can definitely take some of the credit for that. Actually Germany is an easy place for lazy English speakers to visit because almost everybody is extremely keen to practice their rather good English. i usually have to insist on sticking to German for at least a short while.



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