Are you listening? The German verb HÖREN & 20 different prefixes

Last month I wrote a post about the different ways to say ‘stop’ and one of them was ‘aufhören’. This got me thinking about the verb ‘hören’ and how prefixes can or might change the meaning of the verb.

Here is the verb HÖREN plus 20 more with prefixes:

  • hören – to listen
  • abhören – to eavesdrop/ intercept
    Ein Telefongespräch abhören – to tap into a telephone conversation
  • anhören – to (purposely) listen to something
    Ich höre mir die neue CD an. I’m listening to the new CD.
    Man sollte bei diesem Streit beide Seiten anhören. Both sides should be heard in this dispute.
  • aufhören – to stop
  • durchhören – to listen to something all the way through
    Ich habe mir die ganze CD durchgehört. I listened to the whole CD.
  • erhören – to answer (a prayer or a plea)
    Gott hat mein Gebet erhört. God has answered my prayer.
  • heraushören – to pick out a sound or a particular word (in a German listening excercise 😉)
  • herhören – to pay attertion by listening
    Alle mal herhören! Listen everyone!
  • hinhören – to listen purposely, unless…
    Er hört nur mit halben Ohr hin! He only listens with half an ear!
  • über etwas hinweghören – to turn a deaf ear to something
  • etwas mithören – to listen in on something
    Es tut mir leid, ich habe zufällig mitgehört. I’m sorry, I I couldn’t help overhearing.
  • nachhören – to listen to a recording of a concert or, more topical, a zoom meeting or webinar
  • raushören – short for heraushören
  • reinhören – to give a quick listen to some music (like you would quickly scan a text)
  • sich satthören – can’t get enough of hearing …
    Ich habe die neue Rammstein CD gekauft und kann mich gar nicht satthören. I bought the new Rammstein CD and can’t get enough of it.
  • überhören – to ignore
    Der Journalist hat eine Frage gestellt, aber der Politiker hat sie einfach überhört. The journalist asked a question, but the politician simply ignord it.
  • sich umhören – to ask around (and listen what people reply)
    Ich weiß nicht, welche Werkstatt gut ist, aber ich werde mich mal umhören. I don’t know which workshop is good, but I’ll ask around.
  • verhören – to interrogate/ question
    Die Polizei hat die Zeugen schon verhört. The police have already questioned the witnesses.
  • weghören – to not listen
    Ich muss mit Papa dein Geburtstagsgeschenk besprechen. Hör mal bitte weg. I have to discuss your birthday present with Dad. Please don’t listen.
  • Auf Wiederhören! – Goodbye (on the phone), ‘until I hear you again’
  • zuhören – to listen (purposely)
    Instructions for a listening exercise in a German textbook: Hören Sie zu! Listen!

Quite a list, isn’t it?

And how do you conjugate them?

As long as you know how to conjugate HÖREN, you can conjugate them all.

  • ich höre
  • du hörst
  • er/ sie/ es hört
  • wir hören
  • ihr hört
  • sie/ Sie hören

Whether the prefix turn the verb into a separable verb (like ‘Ich höre zu’) or inseparable (like ‘Er überhört die Frage’) doesn’t make any difference to the basic conjugation.

And if you use the perfect tense – Ich habe gehört – just remember to add the ‘ge’ between the prefix and the stem: Ich habe zugehört.

Can you make some of your own sentences? I’d love to see them!

Pin it now, read it later!

11 thoughts on “Are you listening? The German verb HÖREN & 20 different prefixes”

  1. Überhören is what my Cassel book would list as a false friend, because to an English-speaking ear it connotes eavesdropping, which is abhören or etwas mithören.

  2. “Paulinchen hört die Katzen nicht” could either mean that she didn’t hear them or wasn’t listening to them. In my version, I make it clear that she wasn’t listening, but did hear (meowing).

    • Bearing in mind that it was a poem and had to rhyme, Hoffmann probably couldn’t find another way to emphasise that she wasn’t listening. So, yes, that sentence could mean either. Had it been part of a story, he could have made it clear with something like “Paulinchen hört den Katzen nicht zu.” Or “Paulinchen will die Katzen nicht hören.” Neither are any good in his poem.

  3. Native German speaker here. I think it is very interesting how German language learners conceptualize the formation and cohesion/correlation of meaning, based on a lexeme and its prefixes.Reminds me of the riddle that are Japanese compositae of a Kanji with Kana or another Kanji and how much meaning of of that kanji resides into the composition.

    To the example of CatDefender:

    Paulinchen hört die Katzen nicht” could either mean that she didn’t hear them or wasn’t listening to them. In my version, I make it clear that she wasn’t listening, but did hear (meowing).

    This holds only in poetic interpretation as Angelika Davey points out. A compossible word for the meaning “Paulinchen isn’t interested in what the cats want to express” would be – given that you want to employ a composition of the verb “hören” with its prefixes – erhören or zuhören.

    “Paulinchen erhört die Katzen nicht”, but better: “Paulinchen hört den Katzen nicht zu ( = ‘zuhören’).”

    It could be more apt to employ the predicate “interessiert sich nicht für die Katzen.”

    So… “Paulinchen isn’t interested in the cats”

    Best wishes
    Herrmann Fürst Heinrich von Fürthenriesal

    • Interesting, except in the Struwwelpeter story it’s clear that Paulinchen just isn’t listening to the cats, otherwise she would not have played with fire. CatDefender has written her own version of Struwwelpeter, which I have read, hence her comment. But anybody else wouldn’t know that we were talking about the poems from Heinrich Hoffmann.


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