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The ending -bar

The ending -bar is an ending that expresses that something can be done – pretty the counterpart of -able, -ible in English.

All you have to do is add it to the stem of the verb.

  • essbar – edible
  • lesbar – legible, readable
  • machbar – feasible, doable
  • beschreibbar – describable
  • abschließbar – lockable

There are some exceptions, like visible for instance, which is sichtbar and not sehbar. But generally, it works pretty well and you can take a shot and make up your own word.

The origin of -bar is the same as of the verb to bear and originally, it was actually added to nouns, and expressed the idea of “carrying noun”. And some words from that period are still around.
Dankbar for example originally meant “I am bearing thanks”, and fruchtbar, which means fertile, literally meant “bearing fruit”.

But slowly, people, shifted toward using the ending for verbs. And if you think -able as “supporting” you can actually see the connection to the older sense of bearing, carrying.

By the way… this -bar has nothing to do with the bar where we get drinks and the German bar as in cash money.

If you want to find out more about these, check out this article on YourDailyGerman:

Word of the Day – “bar”