During my work as a private German online teacher, I often see that students get lost with the proper distinction between similar words. One example is the correct usage of the two German verbs “vermissen” and “verpassen”. Find out in this article when you should really use which!
Spoilt for choice
When studying a foreign language, one often encounters situations in which one needs to look up the right translation of a word. Frequently, the dictionary offers us many different options as a result. But unfortunately, not every option always suits the sentence you would like to form. And exactly, such a misunderstanding happens, when you look for the right translation for “to miss”.
The meaning of “vermissen”
The German “vermissen” is a regular verb, and we usually use it, when we would like to express that we are missing a friend or an experience because we cannot be with them or enjoy it at this particular moment. Therefore, we cannot use “vermissen” in the sense that we miss something out as an event because we are sick. Often, students tend to use “vermissen” as a general translation for the English “to miss” because it also includes a “miss”-part. Therefore students often confuse them.
Example for “vermissen”:
- “Ich vermisse meinen Partner, der gerade in Amerika ist.” – “I miss my partner, who is currently in America.”
- “Wir vermissen die leckere Suppe unserer Oma.” – “We miss our grandma’s delicious soup.”
When to use “verpassen”
While it “vermissen” reminds people of “miss”, “verpassen” often brings students to the wrong track. Therefore, they assume that it must have to do with the English “to pass”. As a result, they use it the wrong way.
But the German “verpassen” actually means to miss something out because you could not make it. For instance, when you would like to express that you cannot go to a meeting because you are sick, you should use “verpassen”. If you used “vermissen” instead, you would say that you have a longing for the meeting you could not attend and most of the time, this is not true.
Example for “verpassen”
- “Weil wir zu spät losgegangen sind, haben wir den Zug verpasst.” – “Because we left too late, we missed the train.”
- “Du bist eingeschlafen und hast deswegen das Ende des Films verpasst.” – “You fell asleep and therefore missed the end of the film.”
I hope that you understand the difference between both verbs better now. However, if you are unsure about which to choose, you can always ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I miss something in the sense that I have longing for it? If so, select “vermissen”.
- Can I not attend something and therefore miss the event or the meeting? If so, choose “verpassen”.
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