bemerken

merken, merkte, gemerkt: to notice

bemerken, bemerkte, bemerkt: to notice

Examples and Usage Notes Mnemonics

Examples and Usage Notes:

  • Both verbs mean "to notice"; the difference is that "bemerken" is transitive, i.e. it can take a direct object, whereas "merken" is intransitive, i.e. it cannot take an object.  In this case, that means that you can use "bemerken" whenever you can use "merken," but not vice versa:

Ich habe nichts gemerkt.

Ich habe nichts bemerkt.

I didn't notice anything.

Ich habe dich nicht bemerkt.

Ich habe dich nicht gemerkt.

I didn't notice you.

[Here, "you" are the direct object of the verb: you are not noticed, and so you can use "bemerken" but not "merken."]

Ich habe nicht bemerkt, daß du da warst.

Ich habe nicht gemerkt, daß du da warst.

I didn't notice that you were there.

[Here, both "merken" and "bemerken" can be used, because in this formulation the object of the verb "notice" is no longer the pronoun "dich," but rather the "daß"-clause.]

Man konnte das Erdbeben kaum bemerken.

Man konnte das Erdbeben kaum merken.

One could hardly notice the earthquake.

[Here, the earthquake is the direct object of the verb: it is what is noticed, and so you can use "bemerken" but not "merken."]

Man konnte kaum bemerken, daß ein Erdbeben stattfand.

Man konnte kaum merken, daß ein Erdbeben stattfand.

One could hardly notice that an earthquake was taking
place. [Here, both "merken" and "bemerken" can be used, because in this formulation the object of the verb "notice" is no longer the noun "Erdbeben," but rather the "daß"-clause.]
Man wußte, daß Neptun existieren mußte, weil man
Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Umlaufbahn von Uranus bemerkt
hatte.Man wußte, daß Neptun existieren mußte, weil
man Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Umlaufbahn von Uranus gemerkt
hatte.
One knew that Neptune had to exist, because one had
noticed irregularities in the orbit of Uranus. [Here, Unregelmäßigkeiten [=irregularities] are the direct object of the verb: they are what is noticed, and so you can use "bemerken" but not "merken."]
Man wußte, daß Neptun existieren mußte, weil man bemerkt hatte, daß es Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Umlaufbahn von
Uranus gab.Man wußte, daß Neptun existieren mußte, weil man gemerkt hatte, daß es Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Umlaufbahn von Uranus gab.

[Der deutsche Astronom Galle entdeckte Neptun 1846]

One knew that Neptune had to exist, because one had
noticed that there were irregularities in the orbit of Uranus. [Here, both "merken" and "bemerken" can be used, because in this formulation the object of the verb "notice" is no longer the noun "Unregelmäßigkeiten," but rather the "daß"-clause.]
  • As in English the verb "remark" can mean "to notice" but also "to make a remark," so in German the verb "bemerken" can also mean "to remark" or "to comment."  When used in this sense, it is often accompanied by a verb in subjunctive I to indicate that speech is being reported:
"Das ist aber gefährlich", bemerkte er skeptisch. "But that's dangerous," he commented skeptically.
Freud bemerkte einmal, daß eine Zigarre manchmal nur eine
Zigarre sei.
Freud once remarked that sometimes a cigar is just
a cigar.

Mnemonics

  • Notice the similarity between "merken" and the English verb "to remark," which can mean "to notice," and also between "merken" and the verb "to mark" as in "Mark my words," which asks you to "notice" what the speaker is saying.
  • "Merkst du, dass heute Markt [=market, market day] ist?"
  • "Hast du bemerkt, dass da 100 Mark auf dem Boden [=on the floor] liegen?"
  • "merkwürdig" = curious, strange (i.e. worth noticing)