Verbs with Complements

What are Complements?

Some verbs require specific things in order to make sense and be grammatically correct.

⇒ things that you can't leave out are called complements.

⇒ things that are optional are called adjuncts.

For example, every sentence needs a subject - someone or something that performs the action. The only exception is the imperative (command form), where the subject is implied: i.e. "Komm!" (Come!)

Complements can be individual words, phrases, or clauses.

Here are the different types of complements a verb can require

  1. Nominative Complements
  2. Accusative Complements
  3. Dative Complements
  4. Genitive Complements (very rare)
  5. Preposition Complements


⇒ "Der Mann," "dem Kind"" and "den Ballare all complements. Without all of them, the sentence doesn't make sense. For example, if I said "The man gave" it wouldn't make sense. What did he give?!?!?

„jetzt“ is an adjunct - it is just extra information. Leaving it out still leaves a grammatically correct sentence that makes sense.

Der Mann can't be left out. It's a complement.

mit einem Geschenk and auf seine Tochter“  are extra pieces of information - they could be left out and the sentence would still make sense. "The man waits" is a full sentence that makes sense.

Lessons on Different Types of Complements

All the info you need for the various complements in German:

If you aren't confident in using cases, look at these lessons again: NominativeAccusativeDative and Genitive.

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