German Verbs

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.

Overview: German Verbs

"sein" and "haben"

Verben - sein und 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 ("to be" and "to have", respectively), but we also use these verbs as helping verbs to form certain tenses.

Examples: „Du bist nett.“ - „Er hat ein Haus.“

Strong Verbs

Starke Verben

When conjugating verbs, sometimes we change one of their vowels. Verbs with a vowel change are called "strong verbs."

Example: laufen - du läufst

The Present Participle

Partizip 1

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.

Example: „Der telefonierende Mann fährt Auto.“

The Past Participle

Partizip 2

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.“

Separable and Inseparable Verbs

Trennbare und untrennbare Verben

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.“

Modal Verbs

Modalverben

There are 6 modal verbs in German: "können," "wollen," "möchten," "sollen," "müssen," and "dürfen." These are always combined with other verbs and express whether you can, must, want to, or should do something.

The Verb "werden"

Verben - 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."

The Verb "lassen"

Verben - lassen

On this page I will show you how to use the verb „lassen”. It is used as both a normal verb and as a helping verb.

Example: „Ich lasse mein Auto in der Garage stehen.“

Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive Verben

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.“

The Imperative

Imperativ

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 "you": 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!“

The Subjunctive 1

Konjunktiv 1

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.“

The Subjunctive 2

 Konjunktiv 2

The Subjunctive 2 is a tense that is used to express that something is hypothetical, imaginary, or unreal.

Example: „Ich wäre so gern ein Millionär.“

The Passive Voice

Das Passiv

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.“

Verbs with Complements

 Verben mit Ergänzungen

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.“

Verbs with the Pronoun "es"

 Verben mit 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.“