How Do You Say Stop in German? (Hint: You're Probably Saying It Wrong!)
Learning how to say stop in German comes in handy in various situations you might find yourself in when communicating with native speakers. Are they speaking too fast, and you need them to give you a second to catch up? Or maybe you want to ask them where the next bus stop is? Moreover, being able to interpret a stop sign correctly can save lives.
These are just some examples of the many situations when you might be looking for ways to say stop in German. We will explain all the essential translations of this word and show you its correct usage.
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How Do You Say Stop in German
In this case, it isn’t possible to find one simple translation of this word. Which translation to choose depends on many factors.
Stop! As a Command
You use it when you want the other person(s) not to continue doing what they are doing. In German, you would use the interjection halt (pronounced [halt] in the IPA transcription).
- Halt! Hier können Sie nicht durch. – Stop! You can’t pass here.
- Georg, halt, es ist doch wichtig! – George, stop, this is important!
If you like movies set in World War II, you have probably heard German soldiers say halt more than once, e.g. Halt, oder ich schieße. – Stop, or I will shoot!
Another Meaning of “halt” in German
As we have already said, halt is one of the most common ways to say stop in German. However, in Southern Germany and Austria, it also means “just” or “well.”
- Die Prüfung ist halt zu schwer. – The exam is just too difficult.
- So ist das halt im Leben. – Well, that’s life.
This usage is informal but still quite common, so don’t forget that halt can have different meanings.
It can also be a form of the verb halten – to hold, which in turn can form other verbs with separable prefixes, such as anhalten or aufhalten (they both mean “to stop"). More about that later!
Halt vs. Stopp; What Is the Difference?
Stopp is a colloquial synonym for halt. Its pronunciation is [ʃtɔp]. It is considered an interjection, but it is basically an imperative form of the verb stoppen – to stop. Let’s see a few examples!
- Stopp, hier ist kein Platz mehr! – Stop, there isn’t any room left.
- Halt, stopp, nicht bewegen! – Stop, wait, don’t move! (You can even use both – halt and stopp – for emphasis.)
- Er hätte es stoppen können. – He could have stopped it.
How to Say “to Stop” in German
The English verb can be used in a variety of situations, such as
- I stopped smoking. – Ich habe mit dem Rauchen aufgehört.
- We stopped at a pub. – Wir schauten im Gasthof vorbei.
- The train stops at Berlin. – Der Zug hält in Berlin.
The example sentences above show us that there are various possible translations of the verb depending on the context. Let’s explain the usage of the most common ones.
How to Translate Aufhören
The most important meaning of this verb is to “stop doing something.” Don’t let the root “hören” confuse you as it means “to hear.” This is one of the cases when the prefix totally changes the meaning of the verb.
TIP: Don’t ignore the little words at the end of the sentence as they can often change the meaning of the whole sentence!
- Hört es bald auf? – Will it stop soon?
- Hört es mich? – Can it hear me?
Let’s take a look at some more example sentences with aufhören.
- Hat es schon aufgehört zu schneien? – Has it stopped snowing yet? (You need to use the infinitive with “zu” after the main verb.)
- Ihr müsst mit dem Weinen aufhören! – You have to quit whining! (Another possible phrase you can create is with the preposition mit and a noun – mit etwas aufhören)
Difference Between Aufhören and Anhalten
You can usually translate both verbs as “to stop” into English. However, they are used in different contexts. To put it simply:
- Aufhören – when stopping an activity
Deswegen habe ich als Lehrer aufgehört. – That’s why I quit teaching.
- Anhalten – when stopping movement (of a car, a watch, a pedestrian, etc.)
Er wurde von drei Polizeiautos angehalten. – He was stopped by three police cars.
Wir haben an einer Tankstelle angehalten. – We stopped at a gas station. Anhalten is often used when talking about stopping somewhere, such as Der Wagen hielt vor dem Haus an. – The car stopped in front of the house.
Interestingly, anhalten can also mean “to continue.” In this case, it is more related to the meaning of the basic verb halten – to hold.
- Die Situation wird für einige Zeit anhalten. – The situation will continue for quite some time.
How to Use Aufhalten in the Meaning “to Stop” in German
So, we have had aufhören and anhalten, and what about aufhalten? Yes, it can also mean “to stop!” It is suitable in situations when you refer to stopping someone or something, such as
- Sie muss um jeden Preis aufgehalten werden. – She must be stopped at any price.
- Nur so kann man sie aufhalten. – This is the only way one can stop them.
Don’t forget that aufhalten can also be translated as “to hold open.” Du musst den Vorhang aufhalten, damit es herausfliegen kann. means “You have to hold the curtain open so it can fly out.”
Other Verbs Meaning “to Stop” in German
The list of the verbs you can use to translate “to stop” seems endless. Just try looking it up in a dictionary. Let’s sum up the most important ones (except for the verbs discussed above) together with an example sentence.
- Beenden – Der Prozess wird ohne Bestätigung beendet. – The process is stopped without confirmation.
- Stillstehen – Die Zeit schien stillzustehen. – The time seemed to have stopped.
- Verhindern – Wir hätten das nicht verhindern können. – We couldn’t have stopped this.
- Innehalten – Wir müssen innehalten und alles durchdenken. – We must stop and think everything through.
- Vorbeikommen – Ich habe gehofft, das Peter vorbeikommen würde. – I was hoping Peter would stop by.
- Sein lassen (colloquial) – Vielleicht soll ich es sein lassen. – Maybe I should just quit.
Stop as a Noun
We have seen that we must remember several verbs to translate this simple word correctly in various contexts. Unfortunately, the same applies to nouns. Below is a list of the most common translations of stop as a noun into German (together with an example sentence to demonstrate its usage).
- (Die) Haltestelle – Wir müssen an der nächsten Haltestelle aussteigen. (We must get off at the next stop.)
- (Der) Aufenthalt – Das war der erste Aufenthalt auf unserer Reise. (It was the first stop on our journey.) Don’t forget that the main translation of Aufenthalt is “a stay,” though.
- (Der) Stillstand – Jetzt kommt alles zu einem Stillstand. (Now, everything comes to a stop.) FUN FACT – another translation of the German Stillstand into English is “standstill.”
- (Der) Halt – Ich muss nur kurz am Büro Halt machen. (I have to stop by the office for a minute.)
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One Last Quick Tip
In today’s article, we have shown you many ways to say stop in German. As you can see, it isn’t always simple to choose the right translation. It helps to learn new vocabulary through context. Don’t rely on memorizing individual words!
Also, if you read in German, don’t forget to check the end of the sentence for any separable prefixes. This way, you won’t get confused over e.g. hören (to hear) and aufhören (to stop).
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below. We will be more than happy to answer!