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. Hochzeitsnacht war vorbei .

The wedding night was over. 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, die drei Stunden sind vorüber.

So now the knuckle is finished, 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, das immer dann hochkommt, wenn wir zusammen sind.

Because it's never over, this old fever 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.

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei

In English, one way of saying that an event is finished or done with is to say that it's "over." In German, the word über, though usually meaning "about,"  is sometimes translated as "over" when it is referring to the physical placement of something: 


Ganz zum Schluss verteile ich meinen Zuckerguss über den Kuchen.

Right at the end, I spread my sugar frosting over the cake.

Caption 36, Apfelkuchen - mit Eva

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But in German, if you want to say that an event is over, the word über turns out to be a kind of false friend: the correct term here is vorbei


Doch diese Zeiten sind vorbei

But those times are over

Caption 12, Christina Stürmer - Wir leben den Moment

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Meine Stunden bei der Gepäckverladung der Bodenverkehrsdienste sind vorbei.

My hours at the baggage loading area of the ground traffic services are over.

Caption 45, Selbst versucht - Gepäckabfertigung bei Fraport

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Es ist jetzt vorbei, ich starte neu

It's over now, I'm starting anew

Caption 7, Beatrice Egli - Irgendwann

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Depending upon the context, vorbei can also be translated as "passed," or "gone," or "past," to name a few possibilities:


Vier Jahre sind vorbei und unser Team ist mit dabei

Four years have passed and our team is in

Caption 9, Die gestiefelten Zwerge - Am Kap der Hoffnung steht der Cup

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... denn dann ist der Zauber vorbei.

... because then the magic is gone.

Caption 57, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Aschenputtel

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Der Winter ist vorbei.

The winter is past.

Caption 2, Jahreszeiten - Der Frühling

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Another possibility for expressing that something is over or has passed by is the adverb vorüber: 


So, jetzt ist der Haxen fertig, die drei Stunden sind vorüber.

So now the knuckle is finished, the three hours have passed by.

Caption 45, Kochen mit Cettina - Schweinshaxe

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Ein Jahr weht vorüber...

A year flies past...

Caption 24, rheinmain Szene - Selig

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see the many other examples of vorbei and vorüber in a real world context. See too if you can correctly translate the title of this week's lesson: Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei. Hint: the direct translation "fat years" isn't quite right! 

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