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See also: Anfängen



From Middle High German anvahen (to grab on), from an (on) + vahen (to grab), corresponding to an- +‎ fangen.


  • IPA(key): /ˈanˌfaŋən/, [ˈanˌfaŋən], [ˈanˌfaŋŋ̩]
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: an‧fan‧gen
  • (file)


anfangen (class 7 strong, third-person singular present fängt an, past tense fing an, past participle angefangen, auxiliary haben or (Northwest German colloquial) sein)

  1. (intransitive) to begin; to commence
    Das Konzert fängt gleich an.
    The concert is beginning shortly.
  2. (intransitive, with zu + infinitive) to start doing something
    Wann hast du angefangen zu rauchen?
    When did you start smoking?
  3. (intransitive, with mit) to begin something; to start something
    Morgen fangen wir mit dem Projekt an.
    Tomorrow we are starting the project.
  4. (intransitive, with von) to start a topic; to keep talking about something
    Er fängt ständig von seinen Hunden an.
    He’s always talking about his dogs.
  5. (transitive, colloquial) to begin something; to start something
    Wann hast du das Rauchen angefangen?
    When did you start smoking?
    Morgen fangen wir das Projekt an.
    Tomorrow we are starting the project.
  6. (transitive, colloquial, usually with mit) to put to good use, to do something good (with)
    Haben Sie nichts Besseres mit Ihrer Zeit anzufangen?
    Don't you have anything better to do with your time?

Usage notes[edit]

  • The normal auxiliary for this verb is haben: Ich habe angefangen (I have begun). The auxiliary sein is however used by some speakers in northwestern Germany in everyday speech: Ich bin angefangen. (Many of these speakers however use the standard forms in formal contexts in speech and writing.) Compare the same construction in Dutch beginnen (to begin): Ik ben begonnen.[1]
  • The construction of anfangen as a transitive verb (sense 5) is perfectly acceptable in spoken German, but would not be common in formal writing.



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • anfangen” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • anfangen” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
  • anfangen” in Duden online
  • anfangen” in




  1. definite singular of anfang