How to Fahrt in German
June 1, 2013
If you’ve ever been on a German Autobahn, you’ve seen this sign:
To English speakers it is a funny word that sounds a lot like the English word fart.
Now…what exactly does the German word “Ausfahrt” have to do with the English meaning of “fart”?
To be exact … nothing.
However it has everything to do with the German love for making new words by simply putting together existing words.
A Ride Through German Wordland
“Ausfahrt”, the German word for exit, is a combination of two words: “aus”, meaning out of, and “Fahrt”, meaning journey or drive.
If you’d like to wish someone a pleasant journey, you say, “Auf Wiedersehen und gute Fahrt”.
If you translated each word literally it would mean, “To again-seeing and good journey.”
What it really means is “Good-bye and have a good trip.”
Pretty logical, if you ask me: you’re driving out of something, so the “drive-out” is called Aus-Fahrt.
You might be thinking that you could Aus-Fahrt from this page and try a free practical German lesson too, but your German teacher would definitely have a better suggestion for how to say that.
Einfahrt to McDonalds
Now that you know the word “Fahrt” you can use it for other combinations as well:
The “Einfahrt” is a combination of “ein”, meaning “in” or “into”, and — “Fahrt”, you guessed it. Any clue what an Einfahrt is, then? Right, an into-drive, literally, or an entrance.
Pedestrians Never Einfahrt
On a side note, “Ausfahrt” and “Einfahrt” can only refer to exits and entrances for vehicles. “Fahrt” means “drive” or “journey”, so only vehicles which can be driven (or ridden, such as a bike, a bus, a train, etc.) can drive into or out of the Ausfahrt or Einfahrt.
An example of the word “Ausfahrt” used in a sentence could be the following:
Die Ausfahrt ist links. The exit is left. The exit is on the left-hand side.
Nimm diese Ausfahrt! Take this exit!
Die Ausfahrt ist eng. The exit is narrow.
Solving the German Language Word Puzzle
The German language is basically a big word puzzle. But once you understand that big long scary looking words are usually combinations of short simple words that you already know, the German word puzzle gets a lot easier.
If you take the simple word “Fahrt” and add different prefixes, you get all kinds of fun signs. Take a look at this sign: Feuerwehrzufahrt. That means firebrigade entrance and yes it’s really all one big word. However if you start taking the word apart it’s simple.
Let’s start with the bottom part of the word. Zufahrt is a composite of the puzzle pieces „zu“ and „Fahrt“, „zu“ meaning „to“. A “Zufahrt”, therefore, is the way to something. Obviously feuerwehrzufahrt literally would literally translate as “Firebrigade to ride or journey.”
Now that you know the word “Fahrt“ and its derivatives you’ll be a better driver in Germany and German train travel will be easier as well.
Abfahrt is made up of “ab” and “Fahrt”. By now you know what Fahrt means. “Ab” is the German word for “off”: The departure, or “off-drive”, literally, is the time when the train takes off. Isn’t German wonderfully logical?
The Precise German Language
Germans are exact (or so we like to say), and our language is exact as well. That’s why we have specific words for things other languages have to describe with complete sentences.
Instead of saying “the way there”, for example, we piece together the preposition “hin”, which means “to, towards, there” and the word “Fahrt” and get, voilà, “Hinfahrt”, literally, “to-drive”, or the way there. One word instead of three!
You probably figured by now that there’s a word for the way back as well: It’s “Rückfahrt”, “rück” being a short form of “zurück”, which means back, and our old friend “Fahrt”, once again.
To say you’d like a single ticket (not a round trip) in German, you’d say to the ticket agent: “Nur die Hinfahrt, bitte”. Literally this translates as, “Only the there-drive, please.” and it really means, “I only want a one way ticket please.”
Of course, you can piece together different nouns as well:
Radfahrt – a composite of “Rad” (bike) and “Fahrt” (journey), “Autofahrt” – consisting of “Auto” (car) and “Fahrt” (drive), “Bahnfahrt” – puzzled together out of “Bahn” (train) and “Fahrt” (journey). I’ll stop here, but the list goes on.
And all this with one simple word that sounds funny to most English ears: “Fahrt”.
Big German Words are Made From Little German Words
The German love for precision and word combining can get out of hand though. There are words that seemingly stretch over a whole page. To give you an example:
Schifffahrt. Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (drive/journey) = shipping
Binnenschifffahrt. Binnen (inside) + Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (drive/journey) = inland navigation
Binnenschifffahrtsstraßen. Binnen (inside) + Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (drive/journey) + Straßen (streets) = inland waterways
Binnenschifffahrtsstraßenordnung. Binnen (inside) + Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (drive/journey) + Straßen (streets) + Ordnung (order) = traffic regulations for inland navigation
Binnenschifffahrtsstraßensordnungsparagraf. Binnen (inside) + Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (drive/journey) + Straßen (streets) + Ordnung (order) + Paragraf (paragraph) = paragraph in the traffic regulations for inland navigation
Having fun yet? That’s German for you! It’s very exact.
The good news is that the really big words are almost always combinations of little words which makes learning and understanding them a LOT easier.
Do You Want to Learn German?
If you are planning on traveling to Germany or if you are already in German, you will definitely have a LOT more fun if you can speak at least a little German.
This German learning program is very good at getting you conversational basics very quickly.