The Classification Of The Verb English Language Essay

Published: 2021-07-02 14:05:05
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The majority of English words we use every day were taken from the Latin or Greek languages. In order to know the meaning of an unknown word, we have to find the meaning of its stem. Many words are formed from combination of other words or from combination of words and prefixes or suffixes. It is often possible to see a connection between the meaning of a combination and the meaning of its parts. The prefixes are given to the beginning of a word, while the suffixes are added to the end of the verb and it changes its meaning and its function. The stem is the main part of the verb, which contains the basic definition of the verb. Most prefixes in English are used to make words negative or to make words with the opposite meaning. The most common prefixes are a-, de-, dis-, il-, mis-, non-, un-, anti-, contra-, il-, im-, in-, ir-, counter-:
allergic – anti-allergic
happy – unhappy
agree – disagree
relevant - irrelevant
There are two prefixes, namely the under- and over-, which generally "go together", that means, if the one of these we use as a prefix to a verb, it is very likely that we can use the other prefix, too. They don`t change the word`s meaning, adding the under- to the stem means, that it is not enough from something, the over- reflects the opposite side, it is too much of something.
cook: overcook – undercook
Other prefixes in English language are used in words that contain meanings, such as having a ‘lot of something’, ‘to a large degree’ or ‘always’, such as all-, ever-, extra-, hyper-, mega-, multi-, and so on.
hypersensitive , extra-strong , multilateral
There are some prefixes that are used to create words that suggest that something is partly true or that something appears to be one thing but is really something else: crypto-, demi-, half-, pseudo-, semi-, part-, quasi- mock-, neo-:
a semi-independent region – means that partly but not completely independent region
The form of the verb can be simple and compound. The simple forms consist of one word only:
I work.
The compound forms are formed by placing one, two, three or four auxiliary verbs before one of the principal verb:
Maria has gone.
The verbal form of the simple and compound verbs can be only three suffixes, endings –(e)s, –ing and –(e)d.
to play: plays, playing, played
The form of the German verb is complicated with the separable and inseparable prefixes, altering its meaning, its function and its position, so, from the viewpoint of the form can be the followings:
simple verbs
verbal-prefixes verbs
separable and inseparable compound verbs
double prefixes
Simple verbs
Act normally, without changing their meaning. These verbs are without any compound part, combining form respectively prefix. The most German simple verbs are irregular.
helfen – half – hat geholfen (to help – helped – helped)
Verbal-prefixes verbs
Verbal prefixes do not exist as independent words, unlike the most separable ones. They never take the stress, which always goes on the verb itself. They are formed by adding a prefix to the simple verb, which changes totally their meaning.
zählen (to count)
erzählen (to tell a tale)
During the conjugation the verbal prefix never get off from the stem. The only difference between verbs with prefix and simple verbs is that they have no ge- in their past participle.
Die Mutter erzählte dem Kinder ein Märchen.
(The mother tell a tale for the child)
Die Mutter hat dem Kind ein Märchen erzählt.
(The mother has told a tale for the child)
The most important and the well-known prefixes are ver-, be-, miss-, zer-, ent-, er-.
zerteilen – (to divide into)
besitzen (to own)
entfallen (to unpack)
Separable and inseparable compound verbs
Most prefixes are separable and most separable prefixes can also be used as part of speech in their own right, usually prepositions, occasionally adverbs, nouns, adjectives and infinitives. The separable prefix is found attached to its verb in the infinitive, and also remains attached in the present participle.
einladen (to invite)
teilnehmen (to participate)
Ich muß aufstehen. (I have to get up)
If the infinitive is used with zu, the zu get wedged in between the prefix and the stem:
Ich versuche aufzustehen. (I am trying to get up.)
Once the verb is used in any of its tenses, however, the prefix separates from it and fills the last place in the sentence structure:
Ich stehe früh auf. (I get up early)
If the verb itself is at the end of the sentence, as is the case in subordonate order, the prefix anf the verb join up again:
Ich weiß nicht, wann wir heute abfahren. (I don’t know when we are leaving today.)
In the past participle the ge- form appears between prefix and the verb :
Der Zug ist schon abgefahren. (The train has already left.)
The prefixes durch-, hinter-, über-, um-, unter-, voll- are separable with some verbs and inseparable with others. Whether they are being used separably or inseparably can immediately be distinguished in speech by where the main accent is, on the prefix or on the stem of the verb. Often the same verb has different meanings according to the whether the prefix is separable and inseparable. Quite frequently the separable version of the verb will have a literal meaning, the inseparable a figurative one:
unterstellen – unterstellte – unterstellt (to subordinate, to submit)
unterstellen – stellte unter – untergestellt (to store, to stock)
Double prefixes
Another strange thing in German, differing from the English, a separable prefix followed by an inseparable one separates, but the verb has no ge- in its past participle:
zubereiten (to prepare)
Er bereitet das Mittagessen zu. (He has prepared the lunch.)
With the verb mißverstehen (to misunderstand), which has a double inseparable prefix, the prefixes do not separate and there is no ge- form in the past participle, however, in the infinitive with zu and miß- behaves like a separable prefix:
Sie mißversteht mich immer. (She always misunderstands me.)
1.1 Main and Auxiliary Verbs
According to their syntactical functions verbs may be divided into main or full verbs and auxiliary or helping verbs. As in German a main verb has a meaning of its own, which can express some kind of describable meaning. They can form the predicate by itself.
They played football.
Er backe eine Kuchen. (He makes a cake.)
The most important auxiliary verbs are to do, to be, to have and will in the future form. The main verb in English – opposed to the German language – needs an auxiliary verb in case of an interrogative and negative sentence:
I do not like this new street. It is too noisy.
Ich mag diese neue Straße nicht. Sie ist zu lärmend.
In the interrogative sentence in English the main verb comes behind the subject. It takes precedence over the followings:
if the verb has more auxiliary verb, then the first auxiliary verb gets in front of the subject, the others will be placed behind the subject together with the main verb:
How long have you been in Paris?
if an adverb of time get wedged directly in front of the main verb:
Do you always eat out?
In short answer, we pronounce the yes or no words, than we repeat the adequate copula or auxiliary verb:
Is she teaching? Yes, she is.
Do you like Chinese food? Do, I do not.
In negative sentence the auxiliary verb comes in front of the main verb followed by the negative participle not. Unless the predicate is the copula himself, on such occasions the negative participle without any auxiliary verb comes after the copula.
Robert does not use mobile phone.
I am not satisfied.
The English does not deny twice in a sentence. We deny only the predicate. Sometimes we use negative pronoun and thus we do not have to deny the main verb:
I am not eating fish.
I am eating nothing.
In German grammar is three way of negation, namely nein, kein and nicht. With nein we negate the whole sentence, therefore it is placed in front of the sentence separating from it by a comma. It acts like the English negation word no, the simply difference is that, after the negation, we are giving the answer for the question.
Ist der Bahnhof dort drüben? Nein, er ist dort rechts.
Is the railway station there vis-à-vis? No, it is not. It is on the right there.
With kein we negate only the noun:
Ich habe kein Schwester.( I have no sister.)
We use the negation verb nicht after the predicate, when it is in simple form, and it takes place the last position in the sentence:
John kauft heute die Kaffeemaschine nicht.
John does not buy the Coffee maker today.
In English the main verb can be auxiliary verb, too. The auxiliaries have three forms: -s (the third form in present tense), the past tense and the past participle. Thus:
to be – is/is not – was/were – been
to do – does/does not – did – done
to have – has/has not – had – had
‘To be’ in most cases appears as auxiliary verb in the sentence. With it we form the continuous tense, the passive voice and the perfect tense of certain verbs.
Karen is sitting on the bench.
This program is used for making short films.
‘To be’ can be used independently as main verb. In this way its meaning is ‘to exist’. It is used mostly in affirmative sentences:
I am free.
Its continuous form we use in a very particular situation:
Rob’s dog usually barks at our neighbour. But now, he is being friendly to him.
‘To do’ can be main verb and auxiliary verb alike. As main verb we can replace almost every meaningful action by:
I do my homework.
As auxiliary verb we use in interrogative and negative sentences, as well as bearing out or emphasizing a statement:
She did go.
Why do not get up in time? I always do get up in time!
We use ‘to have’ as main verb with its meaning to get, to own:
I have a dog
We can use as auxiliary verb mostly in interrogative and in past participle sentence:
Have you got a new car?
The auxiliary verbs in German act in the same way as in English. They can be main verbs and auxiliary verbs alike. There are three main auxiliary verbs, such as haben (to have), sein (to be) and werden (to become). The auxiliary verb werden usually refer to the future. The auxiliary verbs ‘haben’ and ‘sein’ together with the past participle make up a compound verbal form. These verbs can be used also independently and play a significant role in the language.
‘Haben’ can be main verb with its meaning ‘to own’ only in accusative case:
Die Kinder haben Hunger. (The children are hungry.)
The most German verb uses this auxiliary verb for derivation of compound past tense:
Die Kinder haben Hunger gehabt. (The children were hungry.)
The sein main verb is
1.2 Modal – Auxiliary Verbs
The modal auxiliary verbs in English are generally followed by the bare infinitive of the main verb with the exception of ought to. We use them to allow us to express concepts such as ‘ability’ and ‘obligation’, furthermore to perform a wide range of functional tasks, like making request or speculating. The context in which modals appear is important as each modal has a number of different uses. Some modals do not have a future or passive form. We cannot use two modals together. The most common English modal verbs are can, could, must, used to, may, might, will, would, shall, should, need and ought to. These modal verbs are strictly followed by a verb in its infinitive form apart from ought to and used to:
You must pay the phone bill, otherwise they will cut me off.
These verbs are sometimes called anomalous finites or special finites verbs, because they have negative forms ending in –n’t and are not used with to do.
will not – won’t
need not – needn’t
could not – couldn’t
The past form takes the bare infinitive of have and the past participle of the verb:
You could have been the person who stops her.
The modal verbs are uninflected verbs, which means, they get no –s ending in the third person singular in present tense:
Peter can drive.
We use ‘can’ to express mental and physical ability. Sometimes ability depends on the circumstances:
She can speak French fluently. (mental ability)
Can you lift this box? (physical ability)
I cannot see it from where I sit. (ability depending on circumstances)
We use to ask for permission in informal English, but in order to express permission in formal English, we use the modal ‘may’:
Can I borrow your dictionary?
May I borrow your dictionary?
We also use for polite request:
Can you lend me £20?
The infinitive form of ‘can’ is ‘to be able to’:
Peter is able to understand me very well.
The missing form of ‘can’ are supplied by the appropriate form of ‘to be able to’:
He won’t be able to read it because he does not know English.
Their negative form cannot/can’t suggest that something it is not allowed to or not permitted to.
Stop! You can’t do this!
As well as being the past form of ‘can’ we use ‘could’ to discuss alternatives and options:
We could have a picnic on the beach or we could invite everyone to a restaurant.
We use also to make more polite request:
Could you bring me the bill, please?
Further, ‘could’ points to the past time only when the context or situation shows that the reference is to past time. ‘Could’ implies a permanent ability in the past:
When Katy was young, she could ski very well.
To express a single act ‘was/were able to’, ‘managed to’ is used:
I was able/ managed to swim across the river.
The use of ‘manage’ suggests difficulty, need for effort:
There was so much food, I couldn’t manage (to eat) it all.
‘Could’ is correct in the negative and with the verbs of the sense:
The door was locked and I couldn’t (could not) open it.
‘Could’ in the past may also indicate permission:
I could put it wherever I liked.
We mostly use ‘must’ for one particular occasion:
We must do it now.
It is used for an immediate or future obligation, duty:
We must fill in the visa form as quickly as possible.
We use for a strong recommendation:
You must see the new James Bond film.
Moreover, we use for making intelligent guesses and deductions:
She must be Melanie’s twin sister. They are almost identical.
The negative form of the ‘must’ expresses prohibition, used in mainly written rules and regulations:
You must not speak on your mobile while you are driving.
For deduction in the past we use ‘must have been’/’can’t have been’:
He must have been disappointed not to pass. His teacher can’t have been pleased either.
For negative deduction we use ‘can’t be’ and not ‘mustn’t be’. It is incorrect.
Correct: My parents want me to revise all weekend–they can’t be serious.
Incorrect: My parents want me to revise all weekend–they mustn’t be serious.
‘Must’ represents an obligation imposed by the speaker, but when the obligation is external, it is imposed by the external circumstances and we use ‘to have to’ instead.
You must stay the night. – I press you to do so
You have to stay the night. – You cannot get back tonight.
It is used to express something that existed or was done in the past.
I used to go to this school.
The interrogative and negative is formed with or without ‘did’, especially the literary language prefers the forms ‘did’
They did not use to work here.
Did you use to live in this house?
The most usual negative form is built with ‘never’:
You never used to treat me like this.
It is used for asking and giving permission:
May I help you? Yes, you may.
Their negative form is ‘may not’, used to deny a particular permission:
May I borrow your toothbrush? No, you may not.
‘May’ can be replaced by ‘to be permitted to’ or ‘to be allowed to’:
Nobody was allowed to enter this room.
It is used to express a possibility with which doubt or uncertainty is mixed:
Take your raincoat, it may rain.
‘May I’ is generally considered more polite than ‘Can I’
Can be used to express permission in the past:
Might I say something here?
It is used for making polite request:
Might I borrow your pen a moment?
If ‘might’ is used instead of ‘may’ it indicates some hesitation or diffidence on the part of the speaker. It makes a more personal appealing form. ‘May’ is the more official request.
As well as it is used to express a more remote possibility than ‘may’ and to speculate:
It might be difficult to get a good baby-sitter.
We also use in reported speech:
She said you might go to the cinema.
Moreover, it is used to express greater uncertainty:
They might come by the night train.
We use ‘will’ for making predictions and talking about the future:
You will have to get up very early.
We also use when we make offers or decisions as we speak:
Leave the washing up, I will do it later.
‘Will’ could be used to express habitual actions:
Most days, I will normally take the early rain to Melbourne.
With this modal we make request or give order:
Will you drop me off in the front of the Lidl, please?
It is used to talk about expected behavior:
The cat scratched me when I tried to pick him up. Oh yes, he will do that with strangers.
We use to make polite request:
Would you look after my suitcase for a few minutes?
With the modal ‘would we can talk about the past habits:
When we were young we would sit on the bench near the playground.
The ‘would’ is regarded a more polite form if it is followed by the verbs ‘like to’ or ‘to care’:
I would like to eat a sandwich.
In reported speech we use as the reported form of ‘will’
He said he would help me, but he did not.
When we referring to past time followed by ‘rather/sooner’, the perfect infinitive is used:
I would rather have gone for a walk.
Shall is more commonly used to ask for suggestion:
Shall I answer the phone?
It can express refusal:
If you have not given back my T-Shirt, you shall not have another from me.
With this modal we also can express a promise:
If you organize the opening night, you shall have a weeks’ holiday.
‘Shall’ can sometimes be used instead of ‘will’
‘Should’ is used to express recommendations:
You should learn those irregular verbs by heart.
We use to express surprise, indignation, disappointment, joy. In indirect question beginning with ‘why’:
How should I know?
I wonder why he should be cross with me
It can be used in direct object clauses after ‘to insist’, ‘to recommend’, ‘to suggest’:
I recommend that you should take care of you.
It is used in sub – clauses after verbs and phrases indicating determination or willingness:
They ordered that we should be present.
We use to express duty, moral obligation:
Katy ought to phone her parents at least at Christmas.
We use to give advice:
You ought not to eat sausages.
The ‘ought to’ modal acts as the modal ‘should’, the only difference between them it is followed by the short infinitive ‘to’, after ‘should’ we do not use it.
You should not laughed at him
You ought to not laughed at him
‘Ought to’ is used to make predictions based on previous experience or what is expected:
Do not panic! There ought to be another bus.
It is generally conjugated in affirmative sentences as regular verb and followed by an infinitive with ‘to’:
It needs to be done carefully.
We use need to say something is necessary:
We need to enroll everyone for the exam before the deadline.
We use need not or do not need to say something is not necessary:
You needn’t buy equipment, everything is included in the fees.
‘Need’ is used whether there is a strong element of negation or doubt:
I wonder if we need be present.
In contrast with English, German language uses only six modal verbs. These are: sollen (supposed to), wollen(to want or will), dürfen (to be allowed to), können(able to or can), mögen (like, may ), müssen (must, to have to). These modals play a very determining role in the meaning. It is characterized, that we conjugate the modals instead of the verb, taking the second place in the sentence and the verb in their infinitive form goes to the end of the sentence.
Kannst du mitfahren? Can you come with me?
Das mag ich nicht! I do not like that!
Ich möchte etwas länger bleiben. I should like to stay a little longer
The modals can also be used without a dependent infinitive.
Du mußt nicht! You do not have to!
The modal verbs all have two past participles, one formed ge-…t, and the other is identical with the infinitive. The infinitive form is used where the modal das a dependent infinitive.
Du hast nicht fahren können? Ich habe leider nicht gekonnt.
You were not able to go? I am sorry, I could not.
When two infinitives come together at the end of the subordinate clause, the auxiliary verb stands before them, and not after as we would expect! When this happens it is usually a modal verb in a compound tense that is involved:
Ich weiß, daß du nicht gestern hast fahren können.
I know that you could not go yesterday.
A modal may be followed by another modal, that in English we cannot use!
Das mußt du aber machen können! You really must to able to do that!
The basic meaning of ‘dürfen’ is ‘to be allowed to’, it can also express quite strong possibility. The English equivalent, in both meanings is often ‘may’ in the present:
Darf ich Ihnen etwas sagen? (May I tell you something?)
In the past, the English meaning is ‘could’:
Ich durfte um erstmal reisen. (I could travel for the first time.)
In the negative, English uses ‘must not’:
Das darf ich nicht esses. (I must not eat that)
Basically ‘können’ corresponds to ‘can’ or ‘is able to’ in the present:
Kannst du mitfahren? (Can you come with us?)
Furthermore, it corresponds to ‘could’ or ‘was able to’ in the past:
Sie konnte nicht kommen. (She could not come.)
Können also expresses possibility:
Sie kann jeden Moment kommen. (She may come at any moment.)
In the past subjunctive expresses remoter possibility:
Das könnte ich vielleicht tun. (I might perhaps do that.)
‘Mögen’ means both ‘to like’ and ‘to be likely’, usually expressed by ‘may’ in English:
Das mag ich nicht. (I do not like that.)
Das mag sein. (That may be)
This modal also means ‘to want’, it has a more polite sense than ‘wollen’:
Ich mochte nicht gehen. (I did not want to go.)
The past subjunctive, ‘ich möchte’, ‘I should like’ is much politer than ‘Ich will’, ‘I want’:
Ich möchte Kaffee, bitte. (I should like coffee, please)
This is the form of ‘mögen’ in most frequent use.
The basic meaning of ‘müssen’ is ‘must’ or ‘to have to’:
Du mußt alles aufessen. (You must eat everything up.)
In the negative form in English becomes ‘do not have to’:
Du mußt das nicht essen. (You do not have to eat that.)
Müssen is also used to mean ‘must’ or ‘to have to’ expressing inevitability:
Muß das sein? (Is that really necessary?)
Müssen in the past subjunctive means ‘ought to be’, where is no sense of duty, where there is, ‘sollen’ is used:
Das Haus müßte irgendwo hier sein. (The house ought to be somewhere around here.)
The basic meaning is ‘is to’ or ‘is supposed to’, expressing intention:
Was soll das heißen? (What is that supposed to mean?)
In the past, it means ‘ought to’/’should’ and ‘ought to have’/’should have’, expressing moral duty:
Das solltest du nicht machen! (You ought not to do that!)
It is also used to express a command or a wish, especially in the third person:
Petra soll ein bißchen warten. (Petra should have to wait for a while.)
The main meaning is ‘to want’ or ‘will’:
Die Kaffeemaschine will nicht funktionieren. (The coffee maker will not work.)
‘Wollen’ also sometimes means ‘to need’:
Das will sehr viel Zeit. (That needs a great deal of time.)
It can form a polite alternative to the imperative:
Wollen Sie bitte Platz nehmen? (Would you please take a seat?)
It can mean ‘to claim’ or in the negative ‘not to admit’:
Er will ein Millionär sein. (He claims to be a millionaire.)
Kein Mensch will es gemacht haben. (Nobody admits what they did.)
1.3 Reflexive Verbs
Reflexive verbs are verbs whose direct and indirect object is the same as their subject. In German they consist of a simple verb followed by the reflexive pronoun in the accusative and dative case. This pronoun is the sich, that is the reason why the German verbs are often called ‘sich-verbs’. In the dictionary is mentioned, that the verb is coupled with sich or not, furthermore, shows also, which kind of case is construed with. In accusative case the reflexive pronoun often takes a preposition.
Maria freut sich über das Geschänk. (Maria is very glad about the gift)
The reflexive pronoun normally stands in the same position as other pronoun, in normal order immediately after the verb. In an infinitive phrase it comes first:
Sie werden gebeten, sich sofort in die Halle zu begeben
(You are asked to make your way into the hall immediately.)
Apart from sich, they are the same as the ordinary accusative and dative object pronouns. I will mention below two reflexive verbs showing all the reflexive pronouns in their accusative and dative case:
sich trocknen + Dative
(dry oneself)
ich trockne mich
du trocknest dich
er trocknet sich
wir trocknen uns
ihr trocknet euch
sie trocknen sich
Sie trocknen sich
sich erlauben + Accusative
(allow oneself something)
ich erlaube mir
du erlaubst dir
er erlaubt sich
wir erlauben uns
ihr erlaubt euch
sie erlauben sich
Sie erlauben sich
The reflexive verbs are divided into two parts: real reflexive verbs and fake reflexive verbs. The real reflexive verbs can be used only with reflexive. In accusative case may not be replaced by another person or thing. They can be only dative or only accusative. The reflexive verbs form their compound past tense with haben.The most important real reflexive verbs are sich interesieren für+Acc, (be interested in something), sich bedanken für+Acc (to express one’s thanks for something), sich kümmern um+Acc (take care of something).
The fake reflexive verbs can be made use of both the reflexive pronoun and the accusative case. We use them in dative case only:
Uli wäscht ihr Tochter (Uli washes her daughter)
Uli wäscht sich. (Uli wash himself)
Another difference between the two languages is that, the reflexive pronoun in German can change the verb’s meaning:
entchuldigen (to apologize)
sich entshuldigen (make excuses)
sich entschuldigen (bei + D) / (beg somebody’s pardon)
sich entschuldigen (für + Akk) / (beg one’s apologize for something)
Reflexive verbs are occasionally used in German where English uses a passive:
Das läßt sich machen! (That can be done!)
The reflexive verbs may correspond to an English one, but often certain cases do not correspond with it:
Du mußt dich waschen. (You must wash yourself.)
Du hast dich verfahren. (You have taken the wrong road.)
In English exists just reflexive pronoun, which receives a –self ending, in plural –selves. Certain cases instead of the reflexive pronoun we can use simply the personal noun. In German it is not allowed.
I comb myself.
I comb.
They can be used after adverbs as, than, like, or after a noun followed by a conjunction, and or but:
Katy bought a same car as myself.
Most transitive verbs can be used with a reflexive pronoun, but those verbs, which describe an action that people do to themselves, do not usually take pronouns such as to shave, to wash, to dress and so on. The most common transitive verbs are to blame, to prepare, to repeat, to teach, to find, to hurt, to dry, to cut, to satisfy and so on.
I prefer shaving myself to going to a party. (transitive verb)
Mary usually dresses up before breakfast. (describe an action)
1.4 Regular and Irregular Verbs
All the regular verbs in English are simply formed by adding an –d or –ed ending both in Past Tense and in the Past Participle. In German the Past Tense and the Past Participle are never corresponding.
open – opened - opened
denken – dachte – hat gedacht (to think)
Verbs which ending in –y preceded by a consonant change –y into –i before –ed:
try – tried - tried
Final –y remains unchanged if it is preceded by a vowel or before the suffix –ing:
enjoy – enjoyed – enjoyed
lay – laid – laid
pay – paid – paid
The final consonant is doubled before the suffixes –ed:
when a verb of one syllable has a short vowel marked by one letter and ends in a single consonant marked by one letter:
beg – begged – begged
if the stress is on the second syllable of the verb:
occur – occurred - occurred
if the verb ends in –l:
fulfill – fulfilled - fulfilled
if the verb ends in –ap or –ip and if the stress is on the first syllable:
kidnap – kidnapped
The past tense and the past participle of irregular verb vary and must be learnt. If we make a comparison according to their dictionary form we can take the followings into consideration:
the three principal form the verbs are the same:
set – set – set
the first and the second form are the same:
beat – beat – beaten
the second and the third form are the same:
bleed – bled – bled
the first and the third form are the same:
become – became – become
the three principal form are different:
sing – sang – sung
In German grammar we identify three type of verb:
weak or completely regular verb
strong or irregular verb
mixed or partly strong, partly weak verb
All German verbs have infinitive ending –en, occasionally just –n, so it is not possible to tell from the infinitive of a verb, which is weak, strong or mixed. In all tenses sie (she), es (it), man (one), and singular nouns are followed by the er (he) form of the verb, plural nouns are followed by the sie (they) form.
Weak or completely regular verbs
The vast majority of German verbs are weak and follow a single pattern. Their past tense is formed by adding –te to their stem and their past participle is formed ge…..t:
lernen – to learn
ich lerne (I learn)
ich lernte (I learned)
ich habe gelernt (I have learned)
Strong or irregular verbs
Strong verbs change their stem vowels in the past tense and often in their past participles and sometimes in parts of the present as well. They may also change the consonant after that vowel. Their past participle are formed ge…..en.
singen (to sing)
ich singe (I sing)
ich sang (I sang)
ich habe gesungen (I have sung)
Mixed or partly strong, partly weak verbs
There are only nine mixed verbs in German language, namely nennen (to name), bringen (to bring), denken (to think), haben (to have), rennen (to run), senden (to send), wenden (to turn), kennen (to know) andwissen (to know). These verbs take weak endings, but also change stem vowel and sometimes the following consonant, like strong verbs.
ich bringe (I bring)
ich brachte (I brought)
ich habe gebracht (I have brought)
1.5 Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Transitive Verbs
A transitive verb is a verb that takes an object. The action or event involves another person or thing referred to as an object. It shows an action that passes over from the subject or doer to the object. They cannot stand alone. Transitive verbs are see, do, make, find, own, close, like and so on:
Jack rode the bicycle.
Sometimes the transitive verb takes two objects: a direct object and an indirect object.
The direct object relates to the verb and is affected by the action of the verb. It is usually a non–living thing. It is identified by asking the question What? after the transitive verb:
I give a book
The indirect object indicated the person who benefits from the action or receives something as a result. It can be a person, an animal or a non–living thing, which is also identified by asking the question Whom? after the verb:
I give her a book.
The most common transitive verb, that take two objects are: teach, offer, ask, deny, promise, five, tell, show, refuse, and pay and so on.
However, many transitive verbs may be used without any indication of the direct objects. These situations are the followings:
when the object is clear from the context:
I wrote (a letter) to her long ago, but she has not answered (my letter) yet.
when the verb denotes ‘to have the faculty of’:
Mary little sister speaks already.
The verbs to have and to need are also intransitive:
I have a big house.
I need a new computer.
Sometimes a transitive verb becoming transitive acquires passive meaning:
I have locked the door. (transitive)
The door locks easily. (intransitive)
The same verb may be transitive in one of its meaning and intransitive in another:
He ran five miles. (transitive)
He walked ten miles. (intransitive)
In the same way, in German grammar transitive verbs also concern or affect another person or object as well as the subject. In German dictionaries it is always indicated whether verb is transitive and or intransitive. All transitive verbs form their compound tense with haben.
Pete schreibt einen Brief. (Pete is writing a letter.)
Pete hat einen Brief geschrieben. (Pete has written a letter.)
Intransitive Verbs
A verb that has no object is called an intransitive verb. It is shows an action without an object or a state of being. An object is not required to complete the meaning of the sentence. Only the performer of the action and the action are mentioned.
Jill speaks silently.
The most important and used intransitive verbs are arrive, go, come, move, watch, see, disappear and vanish.
We can introduce another person or thing with an adverbial phrase or prepositional phrase:
The boat disappeared in the storm.
An intransitive verb acquiring a transitive verb meaning very often turned into a causative verb:
He walked home. (intransitive)
He walked his horse up the road. – (transitive/accusative)
An intransitive verb the following situations become transitive:
through a change in the root vowel
to sit, sat, sat – He is sitting on a chair. (intransitive)
to set, set, set – They set their house in order. (transitive)
through the addition of a prefix
to speak – Please speak more slowly. (intransitive)
to bespeak – They bespoke in room in a hotel. (transitive)
As in English, in German intransitive verbs also concern the subject or the person who perform the action and the verb. However, the most intransitive verbs of motion and the verbs sein (to be), werden (to become), bleiben (to remain), use an auxiliary sein instead of haben in compound tenses:
Er wird geblieben sein. (He will have remained.)
Three group of intransitive verbs use sein:
verbs expressing motion, involving change of place:
Karl ist heute gefahren. (Karl left today.)
If the verb simply expresses the action, rather than change of place, haben is usually used:
Ich habe heute viel geritten. (I have ridden a lot today.)
verbs expressing change of state. In this group are included verbs meaning ‘to happen’: passieren, vorkommen, geschehen, vorgehen
Meine Großmutter ist gestorben. (My grandmother has died.)
The future form werden also takes sein when it is used to form passive:
Ich been gefragt worden. ( I have been asked.)
the following verbs, where the idea of motion or of change of state seems doubtful:
begegnen (meet), bleiben (remain), gelingen (succeed), mißlingen(fail), glücken (succeed),mißglück (fai)l and sein (be).
Some verbs of motion that are normally intransitive and take sein can be also used transitively. They take haben:
Hat er dein Mofa gefahren? (Has he ridden your scooter?)
1.6 Finite and Non–Finite Verbs
Finite Verbs
A sentence does not make any sense without finite verb. It gives the meaning of the sentence. The finite verbs in German express five grammatical categories the Mood, the Tense, the Gender as well as Person and the Number of the verb. Therefore they are known as personal – suffixed or inflected finite verbs form. To the word – formation of a sentence we need finite verbs, because this forms the predicate of the sentence. Regularly, in a sentence is takes place only one inflected finite verbs.
schreiben (to write) - in third person, in plural, in past tense, in active voice, in the indicative mood will be: sie schrieben
In contrast, the finite verb in English is connected with the subject of the sentence. The verb ‘finite’ means limited, that is, limited or bound to its subject. The finite verbs must agree with the person and number of its subject completely. If the tense of the sentence changes, than the form of the finite verb also changes:
He worked in a hospital. (third person, singular, simple past tense)
Non–Finite Verbs
In German, in contrast with finite verbs, non-finite verbs do not express the Person, the Number and the Mood of the verb. It cannot be inflected.
spielen (to play) – in active voice and in present tense will be: spielen
There are three kinds of non-finites in German, as in English:
Particip I. (Present Participle)
Particip II. (Past Participle)
Non-finite verbs in English are not bound by tense, person and the number of the subject, so they are not bound by subject-verb agreement. They are an extension of a sentence and sometimes can be left out. Depending on the situation or context, the sentence will still make sense without the non-finite verb.
We must go shopping now. – with non-finite verb
We must go now. – without non-finite verb.
There are three kinds of non-finites, which are not bound by tense, number and the person:
1.6.1 Infinitive
In English the infinitive consist of the words ‘to + verb’. It simply names an action:
Karen is going to wait outside the cinema.
The infinitive can be used as a complement of a verb or as the subject of the sentence:
I will ask Mary to wait. – complement of a verb
To accomplish such a task is amazing! – subject of the verb
The infinitives of German verbs end in –en or occasionally just –n and correspond to the English to … form of the verb:
machen (to make)
The infinitive is the name of the verb, it is really a sort of noun and can be used as

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