German Lessons


All about vorüber

The German adverb vorüber is less common than the adverb vorbei—the German dictionary Duden rates vorüber 3 out of 6 for frequency of usage, compared to 4 out of 6 for vorbei—but they are used with a similar meaning in many contexts. In combination with sein ("to be"), vorüber and vorbei are usually translated as "past," "passed by," or "over."


In the following example, both of the adverbs are used, and the translator chose "over" for vorüber—a good choice considering the similarity to the preposition über ("over").


Hochzeitsnacht war vorüber.

The wedding night was over.

Hochzeitsnacht war vorbei .

The wedding night had passed.

Captions 38-39, Günter Dudenhöfer als „Der Dorftrottel” - Auftritt Karneval Friedrichshafen

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So, jetzt ist der Haxen fertig,

So now the knuckle is finished,

die drei Stunden sind vorüber.

the three hours have passed by.

Caption 45, Kochen mit Cettina - Schweinshaxe

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The next two examples appear at first glance to use the adverb vorüber, but they actually use the separable German verb vorübergehen, often translated as "to go by" or "to pass by":


Mit jeder Welle kam ein Traum, Träume gehen vorüber

With every wave came a dream, dreams pass by [come and go]

Caption 1, Juli - Perfekte Welle

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Denn es geht nie vorüber, dieses alte Fieber,

Because it's never over, this old fever

das immer dann hochkommt, wenn wir zusammen sind

that always comes up then, when we are together

Captions 15-16, Die Toten Hosen - Altes Fieber

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This last example uses the verb vorüberziehen, which—oddly enough—also usually translates as "to go by" or "to pass by":


Im Schlepptau der flachen Plätten ziehen die Blumenkunstwerke vor der eindrucksvollen Bergkulisse vorüber.

In the tow line of the flat barges, the artworks made from flowers pass by in front of an impressive mountain panorama.

Captions 36-37, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen

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So while vorüber was at some point combined with gehen and ziehen to form the separable verbs vorübergehen and vorüberziehen, vorüber remains a fiercely independent adverb when combined with wehen. Depending upon the context, the following could also have been translated as "breezes by":


Ein Jahr weht vorüber...

A year flies past...

Caption 24, rheinmain Szene - Selig

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Further Learning
There is another nice German adverb that uses vorüber too: vorübergehend. Go to Yabla German to discover its meaning, if you didn't already know, and watch the videos used above to get a better sense of the contexts in which vorüber is used. You can also get more deeply into their definitions on the Duden and DWDS websites, as well as looking here to see an extensive list of separable verbs that have incorporated vorüber.

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