Different compositions of the verb machen: anmachen – ausmachen – aufmachen – zumachen

Different compositions of the verb machen: anmachen – ausmachen – aufmachen – zumachen
Different compositions of the verb machen: anmachen – ausmachen – aufmachen – zumachen

Machen (to make) is one of those verbs that can be composed: you can add prefixes that give it a new meaning or a new nuance of meaning.

By adding particles an – aus – auf – zu to the verb machen (to make), you create the verbs:

  • an+machen (to turn on)
  • aus+machen (to turn off)
  • auf+machen (to open)
  • zu+machen (to close)

They are all separable verbs.

But what do they mean and how can we remember them?
Let start by dividing these verbs into two groups: anmachen/ausmachen and aufmachen/zumachen.

Anmachen and ausmachen

Although very similar, actually have the opposite meaning!

Anmachen: das Licht, ein elektrisches Gerät od. einen Motor in Funktion setzen (Langenscheidt). It means turning on a light, an electrical device or a motor, in practice it means “switching on“. Switch on the TV, computer, light, engine, car, etc.

Ausmachen: bewirken, dass ein technisches Gerät nicht mehr in Funktion ist (Langenscheidt). Make sure that an electrical appliance is no longer in operation: “switch off“.

Anmachen and ausmachen therefore mean on and off respectively and refer to everything to do with electricity.


  • Das Radio anmachen – Turn on the radio
  • Das Radio ausmachen – Turn off the radio
  • Ich mache das Licht an – I turn on the light
  • Ich mache das Licht aus – I turn off the light
  • Machst du, bitte, den Fernseher an? – Would you please turn on the TV?
  • Machst du, bitte, den Fernseher aus? – Would you please turn off the TV?

Aufmachen e zumachen

Although they are similar, aufmachen and zumachen have also meant exactly the opposite and different from the verbs seen before.

Aufmachen: etwas Geschlossenes öffnen (Langenscheidt). It means “to open“. It can refer to a door, a bottle, an envelope, the mouth, etc.

Zumachen: etwas schließen (Langenscheidt). It has the opposite meaning of aufmachen, i.e. “to close“.


  • Die Tür aufmachen – Open the door
  • Die Tür zumachen – Close the door
  • Soll ich das Fenster aufmachen? – Should I open the window?
  • Soll ich das Fenster zumachen? – Should I close the window?
  • Ich habe eine Flasche Bier aufgemacht – I opened a bottle of beer
  • Ich habe eine Flasche Bier zugemacht – I closed a bottle of beer

How to remember them?

The main problem we find with these verbs is that they are very similar, but have different and opposite meanings!
How to do it, then?

It can help a lot to memorize imperative sentences, short and concise:

  • Tür zu! – Door closed!
  • Tür auf! – Door open!

This way we can focus on prefixes and remember the difference in meaning more easily!

  • Licht an! – Light on!
  • Licht aus! – Light off!

There are other meanings and synonyms of these verbs. An excellent book that I recommend where you can find all the definitions is the “Langenscheidt Grossworterbuch : Deutsch als fremdsprache“.

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The purpose is to guess the letters that form the hidden sentences. The sentences are the same that you will find in our articles.

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