Verbs typically express actions or activities (like fallen, gehen, schreiben, stehlen), processes (like gelingen, sterben, wachsen) or states (like bleiben, leben, wohnen). They constitute the core of the sentence and are usually accompanied by one or more noun phrases, i.e. the subject and the other complements of the verb:
Subject Verb Complement(s)
Der Lehrer Ihre Freundin Die Mutter Der alte Mann
redet unterrichtet gibt wartet
Unsinn die deutsche Sprache ihrer Tochter die Mappe auf seine Frau
In German, verbs change their form (typically adding endings or changing the vowel) to express various grammatical ideas like tense, e.g. present and past; mood, e.g. the imperative and the subjunctive; and person and number, e.g. du (second person singular), wir (fi rst person plural). These are known as the grammatical categories of the verb. All the different forms of each verb make up its conjugation. This chapter gives details on the conjugation of regular and irregular verbs in German, as follows:
• Basic principles of the conjugation of verbs in German (section 12.1) • The conjugation of the simple present and past tenses and the imperative (section 12.2) • The conjugation of the compound tenses: future and perfect (section 12.3) • The conjugation of the passive (section 12.4) • The conjugation of the subjunctive (section 12.5)
The forms of all strong and irregular verbs are given in Table 12.12, at the end of the chapter.