Regular verb

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A regular verb (regular verb) is a verb whose inflection forms can be derived completely from the nominal form using the usual grammar rules . If this is not the case, one speaks of an irregular verb . All natural languages ​​have a (varying) number of irregular verbs.

In the simplest form of regularity, there is only one verb class, a single root form and a set of rules for the formation of the finite inflection forms. In more complex verbal systems, there can be multiple inflectional classes, multiple stem forms, and multiple types of rules.

Which of several classes is called regular usually depends on their size. The class with the largest number of members tends to be called regular, even if the verbs are statistically less frequent.


In psycholinguistics it is of interest how regular and irregular verbs are processed by humans. In young children it can be observed that they often inflect irregular verbs according to regular patterns, which leads to errors such as eaten instead of eaten . This is an indication that children outside of school actually do not learn the grammar of a language on the basis of rules, but rather (mostly only unconsciously) generalize observed patterns (rules) and only observe and add new patterns later.

Therefore it is increasingly neglected in modern foreign language teaching, e.g. B. in English to correct the form she work to she works, which is also initially used by all small children , as this interferes with learning the more important uses of the ending s as a sign of the plural (dads) and genitive (dad's) . All toddlers, including those whose parents correct them, first use the forms two dads , dad chair , she work . Only when this use is firmly established is the dad's chair form also used. Finally, the form she works is also used. This knowledge of linguistics, gained decades ago, is still unknown to most teachers.

Regular verbs in German

In German grammar, regular verbs are usually equated with weak verbs . They are characterized by the way in which their stem forms are formed for the past tense and past participle . In weak verbs, the suffix {-t-} serves as an indicator for the simple past. Any personal ending (see person ) is followed by an ending.


  • Infinitive : wink-en → 1./3. Person , singular , simple past: wink-te
  • Infinitive: learn-en → 1./3. Person, singular, simple past: lern-te
  • Infinitive: say-en → 1./3. Person, singular, simple past: said -te
  • Infinitive: liberate → 1./3. Person, singular, simple past: liberated

For the formation of the participle perfect for weak verbs, the dental suffix {-t} is attached to the root of the word. The prefix {ge} is also placed in front of the word stem. This does not apply to verbs of foreign origin that end in -ieren.

Does the verb a prefix ( Prefix ), does not apply to emphasis on the word stem the prefix {Clear} and emphasis on the prefix, the infix {-Ge-} is used.


  • with the prefix {ge}
    • Infinitive: unk-en → participle II ge-unk-t
    • Infinitive: setz-en → participle II ge-setz-t
    • Infinitive: Believe → Participle II ge-belie-t
  • without the prefix {ge}
    • Infinitive: ver-Such-en → Participle II ver-Such-t
    • Infinitive: move-weg-en → participle be-weg-t
    • Infinitive: ent-empty-en → participle II ent-empty-t
    • Infinitive: marsch-ier-en → Participle II marsch-ier-t
  • with the infix {-ge-}
    • Infinitive: ab-sag-en → participle II ab-ge-sag-t
    • Infinitive: auf -führung-en → Participle II auf-ge-fuer-t
    • Infinitive: aus-ask-en → participle II aus-ge-asked-t

The regularity of the root form formation in the weak verbs is only interrupted by the exceptions regarding the prefix in the participle.

The number of regular verbs clearly exceeds that of irregular ones. New formations are almost always included in the German language as regular verbs (see surfing, bombing, telephoning, x-raying, etc. ). Despite their quantitative superiority, they are less common in texts than strong verbs, because many of the commonly used verbs are strong.


  • Glück, Helmut / Sauer, Wolfgang Werner: Contemporary German . 2nd revised and expanded edition. Stuttgart / Weimar 1997.
  • Pinker, Steven: Words and Rules. The Ingredients of Language . 1999 (German: words and rules. The nature of language. Heidelberg / Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-8274-0297-2 ).
  • Schmidt, Wilhelm: History of the German language . 7th improved edition. Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-7776-0720-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: regular verb  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations