Throw me a bone

Me: I accidently hit on the right verb in German class – wegwerfen – to throw away.

Manfredas: Well done! 

Me: My initial thought was “auswerfen” – to throw out – but I thought, “No, German… It has to be something else.”

Manfredas: See? You’re getting better and better. “Auswerfen” is also a verb though. It means “to output”.  “Rauswerfen” is to throw out, like to throw someone out of a bar. 

Me: Huh. That will probably come in handy. Is “einwerfen” possible?

Manfredas: Yep, to throw in. Like to throw a coin into a machine. 

Me: Oh yeah! That’s on the washing machines downstairs. Choose the programme before throwing in the coin. Can I throw in my clothes after I throw in the coin? 

Manfredas: NEIN! That would be “hineinwerfen.”

Me: (Sigh) OK. Abwerfen?

Manfredas: Yep, if you’re thrown off a horse, for example.

Me: Anwerfen?

Manfredas: Yep, to start something up. Like a machine. 

Me: Can I anwerfen the kettle?

Manfredas: NEIN! 

Me: Verwerfen? 

Manfredas: Yep. To reject or discard something. 

Me: Zuwerfen? I’m sure this isn’t annoying for you at all…

Manfredas: Zuwerfen? Yep, it means “to toss.”

Me: Can I zuwerfen a salad?

Manfredas: NEIN! Geht gar nicht.

Me: How do I toss a salad then?

Manfredas: You don’t. 

Me: Can…

Manfredas: Before you ask, no, you can’t use it for “toss off” either. 

Me: I’m offended. I would never ask something so crass…

Manfredas: Hmm.

Me: Vorwerfen?

Manfredas: Yep, to accuse or blame someone. 

Me: Bewerfen?

Manfredas: Yes, to pelt.

Me: Unterwerfen?

Manfredas: Yep, to subdue.

Me: Bet you wish you could unterwerfen me but I’m going to keep going. Hinwerfen?

Manfredas: To throw something down. 

Me: Zurückwerfen?

Manfredas: Yes. To reflect or echo. 

Me: …

Manfredas: …

Me: Huh. I think I’m out. 

Manfredas: (runs for the door)

A few days later, I was with a student. I like to share the misery around so…

Me: I’ve been having great fun with “werfen” this week.

Gundula: ??

Me: You know – abwerfen, auswerfen, einwerfen, hinwerfen, verwerfen, wegwerfen…

Gundula: Ha, oh right. Yeah, Germans never really think about that. Do you have “entwerfen”?

Me: NEIN! What does that mean?

Gundula: To draft something. 

Me: Man, is there anything werfen can’t do? 

Anyway, I will never throw in the towel when it comes to this language. Incidentally, that also works – das Handtuch werfen.

And now I’m off to toss a salad. So there, Manfredas.



38 thoughts on “Throw me a bone”

      1. I was in Vienna a couple of weeks ago and felt SO uncomfortable not understanding a word of German, even in restaurant menus. I feel like I might need to have at least a dabble.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell me about it! You could do the same with all of the major verbs! Still, I guess it’s probably the same for people learning phrasal verbs in English. I always give my students the example – looking FOR your baby = BAD, looking AFTER your baby = GOOD 😉


  1. hi linda, greetings from the south of france.

    i used to teach american friends …. german beyond wo ist der bahnhof! so i sent your article to some of my old pupils. great hallo from all the 70 plusses!

    but .. i guess you could play this game with many MAJOR verbs in german: sagen, gehen, sprechen … you name it. honestly … i never gave this a thought. however, the prepositions in english are also something that require ‘learning’ by heart rather than reasoning!

    am at present trying to remember the forms of the 45 irregular french verbs, that we had to learn by heart in grammar school in the 50s. thanks to i am doing rather well in writing and then … the french are by far more forgiving if this german makes a mistake … than are for instance the british! so … bonne journée à vous amicalement uschi reber

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, the south of France – lovely! And yes, I totally agree with you about prepositions in English too – phrasal verbs are the bane of most students’ lives! Look up, look into, look up to, look over, look at, la la la – and that’s just one verb haha! In the morning, afternoon, evening but AT night. I call it Linda’s “Fun with Prepositions” section of the lessons – doesn’t make it any more fun for them but at least I entertain myself 😉 Greetings back to all the 70 plusses!


      1. Yeah, I was just trying to splice Spanish with German. I’m still trying to learn Spanish. Practice with Duolingo every day but maybe only a few minutes. And sometimes I’m just not sure why. If we ever move out of the US, we’re likely to go north, not south 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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