Which verb form is always read

Verb: definition and examples

This article deals with the verb. It explains what is meant by a verb and it covers person, number, tense, mode, and active and passive. Examples with explanations are provided for a better understanding. This article belongs to our German section.

We need verbs to form sentences. They are also called action or do words. They denote actions (Er plays Football.), Operations (the ball rolls into the goal.) and states (the spectators to sit in the stands.). If one forms the different grammatical forms with a verb, then this is called conjugate (bow).

Finite forms: person, number and gender verbi (= active and passive)

Verbs can be a Personnel form have, for example, as he sings, you laugh, we see, you cry, they dance or I go. This is also called the finite formssince you are here person (1st, 2nd and 3rd person) and number (Singular and plural) can determine. Literally, finite also means determined. In addition, the verbs have an ending that depends on the grammatical person.


Verbs can be in active (I paint) or passive (I will be painted), the so-called genus verbi. Active is the form of activity because someone acts - that is, is active. In the case of the passive voice, on the other hand, one speaks of the suffering form. Something happens without the actor necessarily having to be named.


There is another special feature of the passive voice, the so-called state passive. As the name suggests, it indicates a state, such as in "The association has been created". In this sentence, the state of the association is named, namely that it has been created.


But there are also verbs that cannot form a passive voice and that only exist in the active, such as wither, flow or seem.


  • The flowers are fading.
  • The water flows.
  • The sun is shining.
  • I go to my neighbors.
  • He's coming home today.
  • Lisa has a cold.
  • The cat is sleeping.

You can find even more about the passive voice, such as its formation and an overview of the conjugated forms of active and passive in all tenses (= time levels), under the passive voice.


Would you like to test your knowledge on this topic? Are you preparing for an exam? Then have a look at our article Verbs tasks / exercises.


Infinite forms: infinitive and participles

In addition to the finite forms, there are also those infinite forms of the verb, which are indefinite. This means that one cannot determine the person and the number. One of these infinite forms is the infinitive of a verb, which is also known as the basic or nominal form. Examples would be singing, laughing or doing handicrafts.


  • We learn to live.
  • Lara agrees to meet up to play.

There are also participles. The Past participle - also called present participle - is formed from the root form with the endings -end or -nd, such as singing, laughing or tinkering.


  • Mara runs down the street singing.
  • The children are laughing and playing with the ball.
  • Tom is tinkering at his desk.

The participle I can also be used as an adjective. Then it is declined like one.


  • The laughing children play with the ball.
  • The audience cheers the winning team.

The Past participle - also called the past participle - is used to form compound verb forms. In terms of content, there is a completed event or a result. The past participle itself is formed from the prefix ge of the verb stem and the ending -t or -en, such as laughed or ran.


  • The class laughed at the joke. (The laughter is over.)
  • I ran the fastest in physical education today. (Tomorrow someone else can run faster.)

The participle can also be used as a noun or adjective. It is then declined like this.


  • In the film, Legolas holds the bow in his hand to shoot the orc.
  • In the spoken language there are expressions that are not used in the written language.
  • The defendant was acquitted.
  • In the end she is the one who has been deceived.

The modes: indicative, subjunctive and imperative

A verb can have three expressions, so-called Modes (Singular: the mode), have. There is indicativethat represents something real. There is also the conjunctive, where between Subjunctive I, the form of reproduction and the form of possibility, and the Futurethat questions a possibility. In addition to these forms, there is the imperative, that is the imperative. In the imperative, the punctuation mark is always the exclamation mark.


Detailed information on the formation, use and forms of the modes can be found under Modes.

The tenses: present, perfect, past, past perfect, future I and future II

A verb can have six different time levels, so-called Tempora (Singular: the tense), occur. The Present one uses the past tense for what is happening now, that Perfect for the past that is completed and still has an impact on the present, that past continuous for everything that is temporally before the perfect or past tense, the Future tense I. for everything that will presumably or later take place and that Future tense II for the presumptive with a view to the past.

That sounds complicated at first, but it's not that difficult, as the following overview shows.

The present tense

The present tense basically refers to the presence, so what is happening now. But it can also be used for repetitive events, things of general validity, future or past (historical present).


The past tense

The past tense - also known as the past tense - is used as narrative time, as it relates to the past relates. In the oral language, however, the past tense is rarely used and replaced by the perfect tense.


  • Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters.
  • In the forest he met a wolf.
  • She threw the ball over the fence.

The perfect

The perfect relates to the present. It is used to express that a process that was completed in the past still has an effect in the present (perfect present). In addition, it is often used as a narrative time for the past, especially in oral language. The perfect is usually formed with the personal form of haben and the past participle II. Verbs of movement such as run, run or walk as well as the verbs sein and will form the perfect with the personal form of sein and the past participle II.


The past perfect

The past perfect describes an event that has already happened in the past and has ended. It is also referred to as the perfect past or past. The past perfect is formed with the personal form of haben or sein in the past tense and the past participle.


  • After snowing all night, the next morning the snow was 30 cm high.
  • Ronja had known what she was getting into, but then regretted her decision.
  • I heard about it before I read it in the paper.
  • After Leon got to school, he found that he had forgotten his lunch break.

The future

The future tense I is the simple future and is used for a future event as well as a guess or an invitation. It is formed with the personal form of werden and the infinitive.


  • Thomas won't come until the day after tomorrow.
  • I'll meet a friend later.
  • Everything will work out. (Guess).
  • You won't do that anymore! (Request).

The future tense II is used when you want to express something that (presumably) will have happened at some point in the future. The use of this tense is very rare. It is mostly replaced by the perfect tense. The future tense II is formed by the personal form of werden, the participle II and haben or sein.


  • Simon will probably have already arrived in Hamburg.
  • Simon must have already arrived in Hamburg. (more common with perfect)
  • I will have read the text by tomorrow.
  • I read the text by tomorrow. (more common with perfect)

Types of verbs and conjugations:
Verbs are divided into three types or groups: Full verbs, auxiliary verbs and modal verbs. There are also three Conjugation types: strong, weak and irregular. Detailed information and examples can be found under Types of Verbs and Conjugation.

Tasks and exercises:
To deepen and practice, you can take a test around the verb here. There are questions with four possible answers, one of which is always correct. You will find out directly whether the answer given is correct and you will receive a brief explanation of the correct solution. Go to Verbs Tasks / Exercises.

Author: Kirsten Schwebel

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