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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: Does umfahren have two different meanings?
The word umfahren can mean both “knock down” and “drive around,” in German. However, people can tell what it means by either the context of the sentence or the placement of stress on the word.
The difference is that umfahren “to knock down” is a separable prefix like Ich fahre um, while umfahren meaning “to drive around” is a non-separable prefix like Ich umfahre.
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use umfahren correctly.
If you pronounce the word as UMfahren with an emphasis on um, that means “knock down.” For example, Ich habe ausversehen den Baum umgefahren, “I accidentally knocked down the tree.” Also, with this definition, um can be separated from fahren, like in this sentence, Ich fahre den Baum um, meaning “I knocked down the tree (with the car.)”
If you pronounce the word as umFAHREN with an emphasis on fahren, that means “drive around.” For example, Ich umfahre die Insel. Literally, “I now drive around the island.” With this definition, um cannot be separated from fahren.
Another similar example is umschreiben. When um is emphasized it means, “to rewrite something,” and when schreiben is emphasized it means, “to describe something.” But be careful: Ich schreibe den Text um, when the prefix is um, is separable. It means “I rewrite the text.”
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”