Ich fühlte mich außen vor.

English Translation

I felt left out.

Is the “vor” prefix version really necessary, as long as the verb is clearly reflexive?

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Yes, “außen vor” is pretty much a unit that expresses exclusion, leaving out, or ignoring.


A unit. I had “vor” as attached to “fühlen…” And because “vorfühlen” comes up in dict.cc. as a verb, I hadn’t considered the other possibility. I’ve been reviewing the Cloze of 100 most common words–simple sentences–and I’ve been baffled at how much work “vor” does. Takes some getting used to. Thanks so much for clarifying it here.

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“außen vor” is really - or can be thought of as - “außen, vor X”, i.e. figuratively “outside, in front of X”, where X is implicit and represents that which you are excluded from. Like everyone is inside the house and you are outside in front of the door, left in the cold.

So you can “be” außen vor:
Ich war außen vor.

And “leave” something außen vor:
Das habe ich mal außen vor gelassen.

Or as in the sentence here, you can “feel” außen vor. You can think of the sentence as
Ich fühlte mich (als wäre ich) außen vor.

Maybe you would have understood it more easily if it would have been written (correctly) in one word:
“Ich fühlte mich außenvor.”

But If there is a verb following then it must be written in two words:
“Ich fühlte mich außen vor gelassen.”

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I have never seen it written as one word. duden.de does not have the one word version, but does have “außen vor lassen” as an example for “außen”. The english wiktionary only has it as two words.
But then the german wiktionary also has the one word version. You can find sites like wortbedeutung.info that mention the one word version, but it’s basically a copy of the german wiktionary.

Given the rarity (one site even claims “gehört nicht zum deutschen Grundwortschatz”), I don’t think anyone will point the finger at either version. :person_shrugging:

The only thing that is certain is that the “vor” does not belong to the verb:
außen vorlassen
außen vorfühlen

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I did not want to imply that is has to be written in one word.
I only wanted to say that it is allowed to do so and in that case, it might be easier to understand to a non-native-reader.
BTW, the nzz has “aussenvor” sometimes, but that’s probably “Swiss-special”.

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I have probably heard it more often than written, and if it was written, then it was likely in combination with a verb like “lassen” where it seems to more popular to write it as separate words (but you can still find a few google hits for “außenvor lassen”)…

Such words are weird, to say the least. I would write “mittendrin” as one word, but “außen vor” as two, and I don’t even know why. These are the kinds of obscure cases that even native speakers can have differing opinions or Sprachgefühle on.

One last P.S.:
“außen vorlassen” is also valid, but means something different (“to let someone pass you on the outside”)

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