Types of Verbs

Types of Verbs

Modal Verbs

GCSE German - AttitudeModal verbs are used to indicate the attitude of the sentence subject with regard to what is said in the rest of the sentence.

drfen – to be allowed to/ may

knnen – to be able to/ can

mgen – to like

mssen – to have to/ must

sollen – to be supposed to/ ought to/ shall

wollen – to want

Modal verbs are often used with other verbs, just like auxiliary verbs. The modal verb must be conjugated to agree with the subject of the sentence. The other verb does to the end of the sentence in its infinitive form:

Der Sekretr muss die Briefe organisieren.

Mgen is the only modal verb that can stand alone in a sentence without another verb:

Ich mag Geschichte. Ich mchte einen Kaffee.

However, sometimes you might see a sentence like this: Ich kann gut Deutsch.

I can good German doesn’t make sense but sometimes when using modal verbs, the second verb (which is normally in infinitive form) can be omitted. This only happens when it is clear from the rest of the sentence what the final verb would be:

Ich kann gut Deutsch = Ich can speak good German.

Technically, it could also mean: “I can write good German” but we understand the jist of the sentence from: Ich kann gut Deutsch. What do you think the following sentence means?:

Wir mssen jeden Tag in die Schule

From this sentence, it’s easy to understand: “We must go to school every day” without needing to say “gehen”: Wir mssen jeden Tag in die Schule (gehen).

Reflexive Verbs

GCSE German - BathReflexive verbs are used with the pronouns such as myself/ himself or mich/ sich in German. In English we say, “I wash myself”. Reflexive verbs are more common in German than they are in English and they are used in places that we don’t necessarily have them in English.

Zum Beispiel: sich treffen mit.

You wouldn’t say “I meet myself with somebody” in English but in German it needs to be reflexive to make sense, so you say: “Ich treffe mich mit…”

Separable Verbs

You need to know which verbs are separable so you can use them correctly.

Here is an example of a separable verb in the present tense (ankommen): Ich komme um halb 7 an.

The main part of the verb (kommen) takes the second position in the sentence and the prefix (an) is sent to the end.

In the infinitive from with a modal (wegwerfen): Er soll den Mll wegwerfen.

When there are two verbs in a sentence, the infinitive goes to the end.

In the perfect tense, the ‘ge’ which often goes at the beginning of past participles is placed between the two parts of the verb to form the past participle: abfahren ? abgefahren.

Ich bin am Montag abgefahren. The past participle goes to the end, just like any normal past participle would.

In the imperfect tense: Er nahm seine Sonnenbrille mit. The sentence structure stays the same as in the present.