Strong verb

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The strong verbs (abbreviation stV, etc.) form a separate group in all Germanic languages , which differs from the weak verbs by their inflection . A strong verb is primarily characterized by an ablaut , i.e. H. Change of stem vowel between present , simple past and past participle , from. The term strong verb was introduced into linguistics by the German linguist Jacob Grimm around 1819.

Strong verbs are often assigned to irregular verbs in German grammar ; It is controversial whether these are irregular, because the system of strong verbs - just like that of weak ones - was originally completely regular, but the number of exceptions and the division of the seven classes into subgroups means that for the sake of simplicity one can use the Language teaching considered all strong verbs to be irregular.


The primary criterion of a strong verb is the ablaut , i. H. the change of the stem vowel. The ablaut is an old phenomenon, which was already used in the Indo-European original language , from which u. a. the Germanic languages ​​descended, can be assumed. However, the ablaut has only developed into a system in the Germanic languages ​​with which the past can be expressed regularly. Originally there were six so-called ablaut series, which depended on the consonants that followed the stem vowel. In New High German, some verbs still follow these six ablaut series today; in addition there is a seventh row, which is not based on a historical ablaut, but u. a. formerly contains reduplicating verbs . An overview of the ablaut series with German verb forms:

Ablaut series Stem vowel (present tense) Ablaut (past tense) Ablaut (past participle)
I. row: tr ei ben tr ie b sep ie ben
II. Row: fl ie gen fl o g gefl o gen
III. Line: tr i Potions tr a nk sep and Potions
IV row: st e choose st a hl d o choose
V. row: g e ben g a b geg e ben
VI. Line: gr a ben gr u b gegr a ben
VII. Row: f a nts f i ng gef a nts

However, these seven ablaut series have been so thoroughly frayed in the history of the German language that, according to the Duden grammar, there are 173 verbs in 39 ablaut series in German today, many of which contain only one verb, so that the ablaut system is no longer perceived as regular . That is why ablaut or strong verbs are learned today in school as irregular verbs. The same applies to the other Germanic languages. A comparison of the verb drink in standard Germanic languages:

language infinitive preterite participle Perfect
German tr i Potions tr a nk sep and Potions
Dutch dr i Potions dr o nk gedr o Potions
Low German dr i Potions dr u nk dr and Potions
(West) Frisian dr i nke dr o nk dr o nke
English dr i nk dr a nk dr u nk / dr and Potions
Danish dr i KKE dr a k dr u kket
Swedish dr i cka dr a ck dr u c-kit
Norwegian dr i kke / dr e kke dr a kk dr u kket
Icelandic dr e kka dr a kk dr u kkið
Faroese dr e kka dr a kk dr u kkið

further criteria

In addition, German strong verbs differ from weak verbs as follows:

This criterion only applies to verbs with a dark stem vowel (mainly a / ä ; au / äu in run and booze and o / ö in bump ) - on the other hand, without umlaut: come , hit , call and so-called semi-strong verbs such as grind and salt . Another special case is sucking , which is not changed, since these forms then coincide with those of suckling .

  • Strong verbs with stem vowel e (ä) show up there vowel i (ie) : I g e be - you g i bst - it g i bt - we g e ben - her g e bt - they g e ben .

Unlike the umlaut , this vowel change also takes place in the imperative singular: g i b! vs. g e bt! However, there are also exceptions to this stem change (e.g. scheren and the completely irregular verbs go and stand ).

  • The past participle Perfect, same as in weak verbs with the prefix overall formed, but not with the suffix -t (z. B. loved ) but with the suffix -en (z. B. driven ).

Strong verbs in German

Strong verbs are in the German - as in some other languages - by changing the strain vowel in ( Ablaut ), such as with s i nts - s a ng - ges u nts or tr e ffen - tr a f - sep o ffen , wherein the vowel changes follow historically explainable patterns and are by no means arbitrary.

Since the strong verbs originally followed a clear pattern, the seven strong verb classes in New High German still have so much homogeneity that, with a little experience with the language, one can predict the inflections in very many cases. If you encounter a verb with the form K 1 ei K 2 en (for example, stay or ride ), you can't tell whether it is flexed strongly or weakly, but if you know that it is strong, you can tell from the stem vowel class 1 and can deduce that the past tense must be K 1 ie K 2 ( remained ) if the consonant K 2 is voiced, or K 1 i K 2 K 2 ( ritt ) if K 2 is unvoiced. Exceptions are the verbs suffer and cut .

In colloquial language it can happen that strong participle forms are formed from weak verbs, for example in southern German the forms desired (instead of desired ) or switched on (instead of switched on ) or in the Styrian dialect schnnien (instead of snowed ) are common. Also as colloquially some regular conjugation apply in the present tense, such as with verbs keep / load the forms he hold / invite instead he holds / invites .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: strong verb  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Irregular conjugation in German  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. b: Middle High German: Abbreviations
  2. Seebold
  3. Duden. The grammar. Indispensable for correct German. 8th, revised edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 2009, page 126f. ISBN 978-3-411-04048-3 . If you order the ablaut series according to the number of their verbs, they follow the law of diversification : Karl-Heinz Best: Diversification of strong verbs in German. In: Glottometrics 24, 2012, pages 1–4 (PDF full text ).