Matt/Beo (mattbeo) wrote,

Einsicht

Today, for the first time, I understood the German separable prefix at some organic level. When I took a German reading course 11 years ago, it seemed arbitrary and hard to get: chop off the prefix and drag it all the way to the end of the sentence.

This morning, as I was listening to an mp3 of the other day's news in German on my way to work to see if I could understand anything, this sentence sprang out:

Die Polizei nahm rund 400 Personen fest. (Police arrested about 400 people.)

The verb is "festnehmen", but if I think of it as "nehmen" plus a word that modifies it, the placement of the prefix is perfectly intuitive in English:

The police took about 400 people firmly.

I take back all the bad things I've said about German grammar.
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