Free German Lessons

Halt oder ich schieße! The many ways to say “stop” in German

Lesson 25. Expressions

Ultimate Frisbee - Spielregeln

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Caption:9

Für Tierfreunde - Geparden

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Caption:39

Filmtrailer - Wir sind die Nacht

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Caption:13

Der Struwwelpeter - Hans Guck-in-die-Luft

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Die Beatles - in Deutschland

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Eis - Eiskalte Leidenschaft

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Perlentee - In allen Mündern

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Sabine erzählt Witze - Die Pinguine

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Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Der Relativsatz - Part 2

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Many of you probably know the stock line Halt oder ich schieße! (Stop or I’ll shoot!) from old American and British WWII movies, but did you know there are many other ways to say “stop” in German? The German verbs halten and stoppen are easy to remember, since they have the English equivalent verbs “halt” and “stop,” but separable verbs such as aufhörenand anhalten are a bit trickier! 

 

Let’s first take a look at a couple of examples using the verb halten in the imperative mood, both from the classic children’s book series Der Struwwelpeter:

 

Halt! Das ist noch gutgegangen und die Fischlein sehen's mit Bangen.

Stop! That still went well and the little fish watch it with fear.

Caption 12, Der Struwwelpeter: Hans Guck-in-die-Luft

 

Robert, halt! Dein Schirm fliegt fort.

Robert, stop! Your umbrella is flying away.

Caption 9, Der Struwwelpeter: Der fliegende Robert 

 

Next we see the use of the verb stoppen:

 

Bislang konnte das die Ausbreitung der Läden aber nicht stoppen

So far, however, this hasn't stopped the spread of the shops. 

Caption 35, Perlentee: In allen Mündern

 

And even an example using both halten and stoppen in the imperative mood: 

 

Stopp! Stopp, stopp, stopp, stopp, stopp! Halt!

Stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! Hold on!

Caption 24, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz - Part 2

 

Note that Yabla purposefully translated halten as “hold on” in order to differentiate it from the translations of stoppen as “stop.”

 

Another very useful German word for “stop” is aufhören, which is a separable verb that is most commonly used when you want an activity to stop. Here in the conditional mood:

 

Nein, wenn wir keine Lust mehr hätten, würden wir ja aufhören.

No, if we had no more desire, yes, we would stop.

Caption 25, Die Beatles: in Deutschland 

 

In the imperative mood, the verb’s lexical core is separated from its particle:

 

Hör auf! -Du musst genau hinsehen.

Stop! -You must watch closely.

Caption 13, Filmtrailer: Wir sind die Nacht

 

And here an example using the present perfect tense:

 

Sie hat überhaupt nicht mehr aufgehört mit Eismachen.

She just never stopped making ice cream.

Caption 6, Eis: Eiskalte Leidenschaft

 

The separable verb anhalten, on the other hand, is used primarily to indicate the stopping of moving objects or vehicles: 

 

Ein Mann fährt mit seinem Auto. Dann wird er von der Polizei angehalten.

A man is driving in his car. Then he is stopped by the police.

Captions 2-3, Sabine erzählt Witze: Die Pinguine

 

It is possible to confuse anhalten with the verb for “to keep” (halten) and the preposition “on” (an). Usually the context makes it obvious: 

 

Ihren Pfiffi sollten sie aber lieber an der kurzen Leine halten.

But you had better keep your Fifi on a short leash.

Caption 39, Für Tierfreunde: Geparden

 

Another version of “stop” with a very specific context is stehen bleiben, alternately written as one word (stehenbleiben), which is when a person stops walking or running:

 

Das heißt, jedes Mal, wenn man gefangen hat, muss man stehen bleiben.

That means, every time you catch it, you have to stop.

Caption 9, Ultimate Frisbee: Spielregeln

 

How would you translate the following?

 

Stopphalthör auf mit dem Anhalten!

 

Note that in the above sentence, the verb anhalten has been nominalized into the noun Anhalten. Many of the alternate German words for "stop" may be translated, depending on the context, with other English synonyms for “stop,” such as “cease,” “discontinue,” “interrupt,” “turn off,” “shut down,” “finish,” “break off,” “close,” or “end.”

 

Learning suggestions:

 

When you're watching Yabla videos, see if you can spot any other German versions of “stop.” You may learn some more synonyms for “stop” here