Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
See also: Anfängen



From Middle High German anvahen (to grab on), 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 simple present fängt an, past tense fing an, past participle angefangen, auxiliary haben or 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. (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.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The normal auxiliary for this verb is haben: Ich habe angefangen. – "I have begun." The auxiliary sein is used by some speakers in western and northern Germany: Ich bin angefangen. This is, however, widely restricted to colloquial usage. (Compare the same construction in Dutch beginnen (to begin): Ik ben begonnen.)
  • The construction of anfangen as a transitive verb (sense 4) is perfectly acceptable in spoken German, but would not be common in formal writing.



  • beginnen (less frequent in common speech)
  • starten (not always applicable)

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]




  1. definite singular of anfang