Today we will look at variations of the verb “hören“ which means “to hear”. Just like phrasal verbs in English, there are variations of German verbs. Adding a preposition or a particle changes the meaning of the basic verb. And just like in English, there is no logic! We have to practise these verbs as we learn German. Let us look at 5 different variations.
This verb means “to stop” and “to give up”. Often, this is used in the imperative: Hör auf! means “stop it!” But we use it in the sense of giving something up, for example, smoking.
Ich habe mit dem Rauchen aufgegeben = I gave up smoking
We notice that “auf” is separable. Can you think of more examples of something you would like to give up?
Ich höre dich = I hear you
But how do we say “I listen to you”? Listening is stronger than hearing. In this case, we can use zuhören.
Ich höre dir zu = I listen to you
We notice that we have changed the case from Akkusativ “dich” to Dativ “dir”.
This is not overhear! This means to avoid hearing.
Ich habe dich überhört = I didn’t hear you
Ich wollte dich nicht überhören = I didn’t mean to avoid listening to you
We notice that “über” is not separable.
This means to question as in “the police question the thief”.
Die Polizei verhört den Dieb.
Clearly, this is much stronger than just “hören”. And we notice again that the particle “ver” is not separable.
When we use “verhören” in the reflexive form, we do not talk about the police questioning a thief. Rather, we talk about “mishearing”, i.e., not hearing correctly.
Ich habe mich verhört. Kannst du das wiederholen? = I misheard. Can you repeat?
So, be careful. Are you using the normal or reflexive form? Your message will be very different.
Can you find more variations in the dictionary for “hören”? I am sure you know a variation of “hören” with the particle “ge”! Good luck!