What are Verbs?
Verbs are words that describe an action or a state / condition (i.e. "drive," "sit," "be"). In this set of lessons I'll explain how to use verbs in German, share some special verbs that are extremely important in German, talk about different types of verbs, and more.
If you want to learn how to conjugate verbs and know what tense you should use in which situation, go to my lessons on Tenses.
In the following section you will get a short summary of all the topics related to verbs. If you want more detailed explanations, watch the linked video and/or watch the entire lesson.
„sein“ or „haben“
The Verbs „sein“ and „haben“ are two of the most important verbs in the German language. they can be used as a Main Verb („sein“ and „haben“, respectively), but we also use these verbs as Helping verbs to form certain Tenses.
Example: „Du bist nett.“ - „Er hat ein Haus.“
To the Lesson: „sein“ or „haben“
Partizip 1 (Present Participle)
The Present Participle is used when two actions are taking place at the same time, and we want to use one of them as an Adjective. It makes the sentence shorter and sound better. Das Partizip 1 wird auch Partizip Präsens genannt.
Example: „Der telefonierende Mann fährt Auto.“
To the Lesson: Partizip 1 (Present Participle)
Partizip 2 (Past Participle)
The Past Participle is used to convert a longer clause into an Adjective and when constructing some Tenses (Perfect, Future 2 and Passive).
Example: „Du bist nach Hause gegangen.“
To the Lesson: Partizip 2 (Past Participle)
Separable & Inseparable Verbs
In German, lots of Verbs are created by taking an existing verb and adding a Prefix with a specific meaning to it.
When conjugating such verbs, sometimes the Prefix stays connected and sometimes it doesn't. Whether the verb is Separable or Inseparable depends on the Prefix.
Example: „Ich stehe jeden Morgen um 6 Uhr auf.“
To the Lesson: Separable & Inseparable Verbs
There are 6 modal verbs in German: „können“, „wollen“, „möchten“, „sollen“, „müssen“, „dürfen“. These are always combined with other verbs and express whether you can, must, want to, or should do something.
„Ich kann heute nicht in die Schule gehen.“
„Ich will heute nicht in die Schule gehen.“
„Ich soll heute nicht in die Schule gehen.“
To the Lesson: Modal Verbs
The Verb „werden”
„Werden” has lots of different uses in German: as a main verb (meaning "to become"), to express passive voice, and to construct the future tense. More information about this extremely important verb can be found in this lesson.
Example: „Ich werde Urlaub machen.“
To the Lesson: The Verb „werden“
The Verb „lassen”
Reflexive Verbs are verbs where the Subject and the Object are the same. Some verbs require them to be the same, while for others it is optional. The object is sometimes in the Accusative case, and sometimes Dative.
Example: „Ich wasche mich jeden Tag.“
To the Lesson: Reflexive Verbs
The imperative is the command form. It's used when you want to order someone to do something.
That means it is only used with „Sie”: but in German there is a different conjugation depending on how many people you are talking to and if it's formal or informal.
Example: „Geh jetzt ins Bett!“
To the Lesson: The Imperative
The subjunctive 1 is a specific conjugation of verbs that is used with indirect speech. It's mostly used in news reporting, both in newspapers / magazines and on TV. It's also used in hospitals and courtrooms.
Example: „Mein Lehrer sagt, Deutsch sei nicht schwer.“
To the Lesson: Subjunctive 1
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In the passive voice, the focus is on the object being acted upon instead of the person or thing performing the action.
In German there are two types of passive. The process passive describes the action that is happening, while the status passive describes the effect of the action.
Example: „Die Suppe wird gekocht.“
To the Lesson: The Passive
Verbs with Complements
In order for a verb to be used and make sense, certain things are necessary. Sometimes that's an object in a specific case or a certain preposition. We call these necessary things complements.
Example: „Der Mann gibt dem Kind den Ball.“
To the Lesson: Verbs with Complements
Verbs with Pronoun „es“
The Pronoun „es” serves lots of different purposes in German. It can stand for a single word, a part of a sentence, or a whole sentence. It's also used in certain fixed expressions.
Example: „Wie geht es dir? – „Mir geht es gut.“
To the Lesson: Verbs with Pronoun „es“
You can find more lessons on Verbs here:
- What are Verbs?
- Strong Verbs
- Reflexive Verbs
- Separable & Inseparable Verbs
- Modal Verbs
- The Participle 1 (Present Participle)
- The Participle 2 (Past Participle)
- The Verb „werden“
- The Verb „lassen“
- The Verb „sein” and „haben”
- Subjunctive 1
- Subjunctive 2
- Passive (Usage & Meaning)
- Passive of Action (Vorgangspassiv)
- The Passive in all Tenses (from Active to Passive)
- Verbs without Passive
- Passive of State (Zustandspassiv)
- The Impersonal Passive
- Difference between Indication and Complements
- Verbs with Nominative
- Verbs with Accusative
- Verbs with Double Accusative
- Verbs with Dative
- Verbs with Accusative & Dative
- Verbs with Genitive
- Verbs with Prepositions
Lists on the topic of German verbs:
- The 30 Most Important Verbs with Vowel change
- Inseparable Prefixes
- Change Prefixes
- Irregular Participiple 2 Forms
- Noun-Verb Compounds
You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar.