Verbs with Prepositions

On this page you'll learn everything about verbs with preposition complements. Complements are grammatically necessary parts of a sentence. If you aren't sure what that means, take a look at this page on complements in the German language.

Verbs with Prepositions

Some verbs require prepositions to make sense and be grammatically correct.

Without the prepositions the verb doesn‘t work or has a different meaning.

The preposition always determines the case (dative/accusative/genitive).


  • „Ich interessiere mich für das neue iPhone.“
    (The verb "sich interessieren" always uses the preposition "für." Without "für," the sentence is not correct.)
  • „Ich passe auf den Verkehr auf.“
    (The verb "aufpassen" always uses the preposition "auf."  Without "auf," the sentence is not correct.)

Some verbs even require two complements with two different prepositions:

  • „Ich spreche mit meiner Mutter über meinen Bruder.“
  • „Er bedankt sich bei ihr für das Geburtstagsgeschenk.

("Sprechen" and "bedanken" have 2 complements. When one piece of information is unknown or obvious, we can leave it out.  The prepositions determine the case.)

Questions with Prepositions

When forming a question with a verb that uses a prepositional complement, we have to include the preposition in the question word.

Questions about People:

We simply put the preposition in front of the question word "wen" (for accusative) or "wem" (for dative). This is similar to "With whom..?" , "By whom...?," etc. in English.

Questions about Things:

The question word is constructed by "wo" + preposition. For prepositions that start with a vowel ("a," "e," "i," "o," "u"), we have to also include an "r."

These questions have nothing to do with the question word "Wo?" (Where?)

The following version is also possible, but is very informal (and some say it sounds dumb):


Some verbs have prepositional complements: That doesn’t mean that you ALWAYS have to include that preposition. It just means that without the preposition or with a different preposition, there is a different meaning.

The preposition always determines the case.

If you want to ask a question where a prepositional phrase is the answer, you have to include the preposition in the question.

Related Topics:

All the info you need for the various complements in German:

If you aren't confident in using cases, look at these lessons again: NominativeAccusativeDative and Genitive.

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