Collocations with Prepositions

Verb-Preposition Collocations 1

In this module, you will review some German verb-preposition collocations (=co-occurring words) that require the use of accusative or dative case.

Activity 1

First, let’s review the meaning of these German verb-preposition collocations (VPCs) by matching them with their English equivalents.  If needed, you can consult the online dictionary LEO.

Activity 2

Now, let’s explore these VPCs by using Das Digitale Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache (DWDS), a large electronic collection of German texts known as a corpus.  Below is an image that shows examples of the VPC denken an from the newspaper die ZEIT.  It is presented in form of a concordance – stacked lines of examples with the search words bolded and centered.  If you find the text hard to read, you can click on the image to get a larger version, or you can go directly to the DWDS corpus.

Concordance of denken an

Look at the noun phrases and the pronouns that appear to the right of the bolded VPC denken an. What grammatical case do they all share?  If you pay careful attention you will note that all of the noun phrases and pronouns are in Akkusativ.

Let’s try a few more on your own.  Using the link to the corpus above, do a search for all of the VPCs below and determine what case they require.  You will need to replace denken an in the search window with the VPC you are trying to find.  The first one has been done for you.

Activity 3

Fill in each blank with the correct preposition and article. The articles in parentheses are given in the nominative case to show you the gender of the noun that follows.  The first one has been done for you.

Activity 4

Throughout this module you have seen that German, just like English, has some verbs that take fixed prepositions.  Look through the exercises you have just completed and choose the correct statement to make sure you understand what you have noticed thus far.

Always remember that you need to learn German verbs together with the required prepositions and the case of the noun(s)/pronoun(s) that follow them. While an English to German translation may work for a collocation like “to occupy oneself with” → sich beschäftigen mit (mit – the direct translation of “with”), it will not work for a collocation like “to smell of” → riechen nach (and not von, which is the direct translation of “of”).

Activity 5

On your own. Using the verbs and prepositions from this module, write 5 sentences about yourself. For example:

Ich denke an den Klimawandel.
Ich träume von den Sommerferien.