Variable Prefixes

In German there are many verbs that consist of two (or even more) parts. These verbs are either separable or inseparable. Their meaning can be related to that of the stem verb or be completely different.

Apart from prefixes that are either always separable or always inseparable, there are a number of prefixes that can form both separable and inseparable verbs. These prefixes are:

durch-, hinter-, über-, um-, unter-, voll- , wider-, wieder-

Prefix Separable Verb Inseparable Verb
stress on prefix stress on stem vowel of verb
durch- durchführen (to carry out) durchdenken (to think through)
hinter- hinterbringen (to bring to the back) hinterlassen (to bequeath)
über- überreagiereren (to overreact) überreden (to persuade)
um- umdrehen (to flip over) umarmen (to embrace)
unter- unterbringen (to accommodate) unterschreiben (to sign)
voll- vollfüllen (to fill up) vollenden (to complete)
wider- widerspiegeln (to reflect) widersprechen (to contradict)
wieder- wiederkommen (to come back) wiederholen (to repeat)

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Some verbs can be both separable and inseparable with different meanings in each case: 

wiederholen (to get back, retrieve) – wiederholen (to repeat)

durchbrechen (to break in half) – durchbrechen (to breach, burst through)

umfahren (to run down) – umfahren  (to travel round sth.)

Exercise 3

Exercise 4