In this article, we have compiled all the useful information about another basic German verb — ‘geben’ — which means “to give”. We will cover the forms of ‘geben’, as well as various verb variations with separable and inseparable prefixes, and, of course, useful idioms and expressions for everyday communication.

The Verb ‘geben’ with Prefixes

Conjugation of ‘geben’

Like ‘stehen’, which we discussed previously, ‘geben’ is an irregular verb. This means that in the Präteritum (simple past) and Partizip II (past participle) forms, it changes its root vowels without following any specific rules. Each such verb needs to be memorized:

Present Tense (Präsens)


Simple Past (Präteritum)


Perfect Tense (Perfekt)

ichhabe gegeben
duhast gegeben
er/sie/eshat gegeben
wirhaben gegeben
ihrhabt gegeben
sie/Siehaben gegeben

Translation of ‘geben’

The primary and basic meaning of ‘geben’ is “to give” or “to pass”:

  • Mein Vater gibt mir Geld für einen Lunch. — My father gives me money for lunch.
  • Geben Sie mir bitte das Salz. — Please pass me the salt.

In sports:

  • den Ball in die Mitte geben — to pass the ball to the center (of the field).

‘Geben’ can convey the meaning of producing, being a source:

  • Die Kuh gibt Milch. — The cow gives milk.

Or organizing, staging (about theatrical productions):

  • Hans hast bald Geburtstag und möchte eine Party geben. — Hans is having a birthday soon and wants to throw a party.
  • Was wird heute im Theater gegeben? — What is being staged in the theater today?

With a reflexive pronoun, the verb takes on the meaning of subsiding or becoming weaker:

  • Die Schmerzen werden sich geben. — The pain will subside.

In combination, ‘es gibt’ translates as “there is” or “there are”:

  • Zwei mal zwei gibt vier. — Two times two is four.
  • Es gibt eine Katze auf dem Baum. — There is a cat in the tree.
  • Es gibt bald Regen. — It’s going to rain soon.

‘Geben’ with Prefixes

Types of Prefixes in German

What exactly is a prefix? It is a part of the word that can change, standing before the root and either complementing or completely changing its meaning.

For example:

  • ver- + geben = vergeben — to forgive
  • auf- + geben = aufgeben — to give up

Separable prefixes detach and move to the end of the sentence, while inseparable prefixes always stay attached to the verb.

How to Recognize the Type of Prefix

There are only eight inseparable prefixes, most commonly just five of them are used: be-, ge-, er-, ver-, zer-.

There are many more separable prefixes. Some prefixes can be both separable and inseparable, but a simple way to recognize them is: inseparable prefixes are always unstressed, while separable prefixes carry the stress.

For example:

  • begEben — to depart, ergEben — to result/to submit, vergEben — to forgive (inseparable),
  • Aufgeben — to give up, Angeben — to declare/boast, nAchgeben — to yield (separable).

Other Derived Verbs from ‘geben’

Let’s take a closer look at some other prefixed verbs derived from ‘geben’:

  • ab- + geben = abgeben — to hand in
  • hinzu- + geben = hinzugeben — to add
  • zurück- + geben = zurückgeben — to return
  • nach- + geben = nachgeben — to yield
  • an- + geben = angeben — to show off
  • vor- + geben = vorgeben — to pretend

One root — and such diverse meanings, isn’t it?

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