What does, exactly? Get used to this expression around Germans. They, painting with a very broad cultural brush here, are sensitive to moving air, for whatever reason:
- They are convinced a current of moving air causes temperature differentials and affects circulation, resulting in (unwanted) stiffness.
- They regret having teased that ugly girl who grew up to be a witch and is now likely to shoot them in the back with magic. No, really: there’s a German Wikipedia entry about how mysterious, sudden backpain was blamed on black magic.
- They think that moving air — too much or not enough of it — is the root of all not immediately explainable ailments, particularly the upper-respiratory kind.
If you ask a modern German “What’s up with your culturally pervasive notions about moving air?” they tend to respond along the lines of #1 or #3. But, if they are honest with themselves, it’s #2 above causing the most concern.
Whatever your stance on moving air1, ziehen has a rich variety of usages to enchant the non-native speaker of German, particularly when combined with prefixes (some separable, some not, often combined!) to achieve the maximum ratio of meaning-to-root.
On the face of it, it’s just “to pull.” It’s an irregular verb, and unpredictable in several ways:
- it looks pretty respectably regular in the present tense conjugational pattern: ich ziehe, du ziehst, er/sie/es zieht. But its stem-changing past tense pattern involves a whole ‘nother consonant: ziehen — zog — gezogen Where did that ‘g’ come from?
sometimes it takes haben and sometimes sein for perfect past formation — just depends on whether it’s transitive or not and whether any motion is toward a goal.2
Bear in mind that nothing here is meant to represent an exhaustive list of usages. Additional related forms, aspects, and especially pitfalls are entirely welcome — please post them as comments.
|Abzug||reduction, subtraction||especially accounting, but could also be focused ventilation|
|Anzug||suit||situational clothing, like Badeanzug, Schlafanzug|
|Auszug||extract, citation||bank statement|
|Beziehung||relationship||Not to be confused with Verhältnis, which can also mean relationship, or affair.3|
|Bezug||relation, regard||In Bezug auf = “with regard to”; also bezüglich is a convenient adverb. Also, a slipcover for furniture.|
|Entzug||withdrawal||Not the accounting kind: physiological or emotional.|
|Erstbezug||first occupancy||According to dict.cc. 4|
|Erziehung||education, rearing, raising||Not to be confused with Ausbildung or Fortbildung.|
|Verzug||arrears, delinquency||Again with the accounting!|
|Vollzug||execution, completion, carrying out||See also Strafvollzug|
|Vorzug||preference||That which you would pull first — see also bevorzugen.|
|Umzug||move||change of residence|
|Zug||train, movement, draft||A literal or figurative manipulation of a pawn is a Schachzug.|
See an ancient cousin to our English “tug” lurking in there?
Verbs [Präfix] + ziehen
Mensch. There are tons of these. Here are some of unserer bevorzugten:
|ausziehen||to pull out||See Auszug above.|
|sich ausziehen||to take off, to undress||If one removes specific articles of clothing, then they are the direct object and one is the indirect object. One must refer to oneself with the dative reflexive pronoun (mir, dir, sich, uns, euch, sich). If you’re going full birthday suit5, the reflexive pronoun is the accusative type (mich, dich, sich, uns, euch, sich).|
|sich beziehen + auf||to refer to||In the abstract sense, similar to “to apply to”; not the act of checking reference materials for guidance.|
|durch die Häuser ziehen||to do a pub crawl||There may be a connection to the concept of a Zug being a parade, too (think Fasching oder Karneval here).|
|durchziehen||to pull through, to follow through (with, on)||Germans lead the way (“to pull through”), but English-speakers are pushing from behind (“to follow through”)|
|einbeziehen||to include, imply, implicate||Like beziehen, but conveying more direct motion (yet still abstractly so!) via the prefix ein-|
|einziehen||intransitively: to move in
transitively: to pull in
|Taking over a new place of residence? Move in.
You’re a turtle avoiding a predator? Pull your head in.
|entziehen||to withdraw||not in the accounting sense, like to withdraw an offer|
|erziehen||to raise, to rear||applies to people, but the word for raising livestock, züchten, must be related.|
|glatt ziehen||to smooth/straighten out?||My boss says this often in place of durchziehen; he means there are many individual instances of something which need standardization.|
|großziehen||to raise, nurture (a child)||What is the relationship to Großzügigkeit here?|
|nachvollziehen||to comprehend, to be able to relate to something||Achtung! Neither of those prefixes are separable!|
|umziehen||to move||as in a change of residence|
|sich umziehen||to change one’s clothes|
|vorbeiziehen||to pass someone by||Used with an; compare to aneinander vorbei reden to get the sense of the vorbei part.|
|vorziehen||to prefer||AFAIC this means the same as bevorzugen. Bevorzugen, however is a non-separable and attractively regular verb, so wir bevorzugen bevorzugen.6|
|wegziehen||to move away||We hear weg- pronounced like “veck,” not like “vague” … is prepositional weg always pronounced that way, versus the substantive Weg?|
|weiterziehen||to press on||in your journey|
|zurückziehen||to pull back|
|zusammenziehen||to move in together|
|zuziehen||to tighten up (like a loose screw), or to call in an external party||Ever notice that a screwdriver puts the screws in, but a Schraubenzieher pulls them out?|
Adjectives and Adverbs
|großzügig||generous||“big movely?” Perhaps “in great strides”?|
|zuzüglich||not including||abbreviated zzgl. — it means you’re going to have to pay extra.|
There are a lot of expressions involving ziehen, or forms of it. If they have bewildered you in their Vielfältigkeit or their subtlety, well… das kann ich vollkommen nachvollziehen.