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Verb ( Latin verbum temporale 'temporal word' or verbum 'word' for short ), also verb , verb or activity word , is a technical expression in traditional grammar for a part of speech that expresses an activity , an event or a state, and includes words such as walking , thinking , sailing , strolling and hiking .

Since the verb, in its function as a predicate, is the center of the sentence on which additions then depend, it is typically also marked for diatheses , i.e. H. for variation in the implementation of arguments or additions. Through the tenses or time levels of the verbs, mostly present , past and future , the situation designated by the verb is anchored in time. The verbal aspect and the type of action describe further temporal properties of an event and the speaker's view of it, for example with regard to properties such as limitation and isolation (telicity) or a view of the event as an open course. There is also the grammatical category of the modus at the verb.

Be verbs by person and number shapes inflected . They have an outstanding function in generating syntagmatic relationships at the sentence level, such as the relationship between the subject and the finite verb . They form flexion paradigms that reflect a differentiation according to the categorizations of tense and mode. Therefore finite verb forms bear character combinations for the person , for verbi genus , for Verbnumerus, the tense and mood with it. Tempus and mode are dependent on the flexion class and are characterized by different stem forms .

So the vowel change with the Tempusaffix  "th" or alternative segmentation with "-t". The verbs are identified by a personal suffix or number suffix.

Definition and main characteristics

In German grammar, the verb is defined as a changeable ( inflected ) part of speech that describes an activity , a process or a state . In (school) grammar one speaks of an activity word , verb or Tu [n] word and divides verbs (among other things) into activity / action verbs (cry, criticize, paint), process verbs (grow, fall) and verbs of state (stand , live, stay) a. This definition of content can be criticized, since nouns can also designate activities, processes and states (examples: the preparation , the event , the arrival ).

As a differentiating feature, it is also emphasized that the verb is "the only conjugable part of speech". The grammatical features that define conjugation are mainly tense , mode and personal forms (i.e. person and number), or infinitive forms (and in some languages ​​also aspect ).

Verbs typically serve as the predicate of a sentence, and additions such as subject and object depend on the verb . This property of verbs can be traced back to their respective word meaning; the verb meaning can be represented in the notation of predicate logic, e.g. B .:

  1. "Peter goes." = GO (Peter) = G (p)
  2. "The cat caught the mouse." = CATCH (the cat, the mouse) = F (k, m)

This logical structure is reflected in the grammatical property of the verb valenz .


The term verbum is a learned 15th century borrowing from Latin verbum “word, expression; Verb ". The shortened form Verb did not appear until the 18th century.

The Latin word verbum was used for the Greek word ῥῆμα rhêma , which generally means speech, word, utterance , but is also viewed more specifically as the Greek word for statement - "an indication that the verb was seen as indispensable for a statement" .

Universal language of the verb

The universal language of the part of speech “Verb” is assessed differently. The noun- verb distinction (distinction between nouns and action words) is seen as a fundamental grammatical distinction across languages ​​(see syntax theory ).

In many languages, verbs form the predicate of a sentence around which all other elements are organized. They determine the constellation of thematic roles and they are carriers of temporal , modal , aspectual , actional and other information that is decisive for the interpretation of sentences, texts and discourses . The verb thus contains the syntactic and semantic information relevant for the formation of sentences . The sentence structure is divided into two levels: a syntactic or level of expression and a semantic or level of content. Verbs can be classified and analyzed according to a variety of semantic and syntactic criteria.

Verb, inflection and verbal categories

In inflected languages ​​in particular, a distinction is made between conjugation , i.e. the inflection of verbs, from declension or noun inflection . A distinction must be made between the verb and the verb form . When it comes to verb forms, a distinction is made between the finite verb forms (inflected (conjugated) verb form; Verbum finitum or finitum for short) and the infinite verb forms (unflexed verb form; Verbum infinitum or infinitum ≈ infinitive, participle I and participle II). In the recent past computer programs have been developed for various languages ​​that can generate all verb forms. For German there are details and a corresponding program at the University of Leipzig.

Verbal categories

In languages ​​that change verbs morphologically , for example inflect or conjugate them, the individual verb forms can be classified according to certain categories, with different grammar schools using different paradigms. The main categories are:

  • Type of action: The type of action describes the internal temporal structure of situations and thus the objective relationships of the event with regard to its temporal course, e.g. as extended or not extended in time, as goal-oriented or non-goal-oriented, etc. These facts can be described with the terms ingressive , incoative , Durativ , Iterative , Frequentative , tripod , Momentativ , egressive and conative describe.
  • Aspect: The verbal aspect is not always clearly distinguished from the type of action. In contrast to this, however, it describes the subjective view of the event according to the basic categories perfective (event thought to be closed) and imperfective (event thought not to be closed). There are also more complex aspects, such as the perfect aspect, which describes a state resulting from a completed event.
  • Diathesis , also verbal genus , verb genus , genus verbi or genus verbi , also called genus , or German genus : The diathesis of a verb describes the relationship of the verb to the main actants. There are different systems involved. The most common system (in accusative languages ) knows the categories active , passive and medium or reflexive . There are also languages ​​with an ergative or active system and mixed systems.
  • Genus nominis (not to be confused with genus verbi ; see diathesis): Insofar as congruence to one or more main actants is expressed in verb forms , the gender (or the class affiliation ) of these actants can be expressed in the verb. Like number and person, gender is not an actual verbal category.
  • Mode German, even propositional form , statement manner or short way called: The mode brings the logical modality or the personal attitude of the speaker to the reality or the realization of an event expressed. These include the categories of reality ( Indicative ), the possibility ( potentiality ), the need or ought ( Nezessitativ , Debitiv ), the desire ( opt ), the call or (the command Kohortativ , imperative , Jussive ), of doubt ( Dubitativ ), the condition ( conditionalis ), the unreality ( unrealis ), the distancing (for example modus relativus ) and some others. The mode may also be required grammatically (for example subjunctive ).
  • Number , German number : The number in the verb is a secondary category that results from the congruence with actants: for example singular , dual and plural .
  • Person: The person is a category that occurs mainly in the verb in many languages, but is ultimately based on the congruence to one or more main actants. Depending on their relationship to the speech act, these actants are 1st person (speaker), 2nd person ( addressee ) or 3rd person (uninvolved speaking object). In the majority of the 1st and 2nd person there can be a distinction, whether several speakers or addressees are meant or only one speaker or addressee and a group intended as belonging, especially in the 1st person plural, whether the addressees are included are included (included) or not (exclusive). Further distinctions can be made with regard to the social relationship between people (politeness forms), although in most languages ​​there are no separate verb forms for this, but instead, for example, plural is used for singular or 3rd person for 2nd person.
  • Rection: The rection of a verb describes how a verb is included in the sentence. Every verb has a certain pattern of actants that appear obligatorily or optionally in a grammatically complete sentence with this verb. The administration determines which actants appear, which role they take on in the sentence ( e.g. subject , direct object , indirect object) and in which case or which prepositional phrase they are used. Verbs with no actant are also called impersonal , verbs with one (subject) actant are intransitive and those with two actants (subject and direct object) are transitive .
  • Tempus , German time : The tense denotes the relative time relationship of the event, initially viewed from the point in time of the speech act (absolute tense): present , past , future . In addition, so-called can relative tenses express time stage an event in relation to another event as prematurity, simultaneity or posteriority, for example, the pluperfect (German: completed past ) as prematurity for the past, the Perfect (German: perfect present ) as prematurity for the present or the future tense II as prematurity for the future.

These categories cannot always be clearly distinguished in different languages. The Indo-European languages ​​tend to mix categories such as tense, aspect or mode.

  • Overview:


Morphological criteria

According to the type of conjugation, verbs are divided into strong (to go - walked - walked ), weak ( praise - praised - praised ) and mixed verbs ( think - thought - thought ). Weak verbs are also called regular verbs, and strong and mixed verbs are also called irregular ones.

According to another classification, there are strong (e.g. read) and weak verbs (e.g. play) and irregular verbs (e.g. name and bring , like , have and be ).

Syntactic criteria

Relation to predicate: full verb - non-full verb (auxiliary verb)

According to the function in the formation of the predicate, the verbs are divided into full verb (main verb, copula , compound verb) and non-main verb (secondary verb, modality verb, auxiliary verb (in the broader sense)).

Full verbs are verbs that alone can form the predicate in a sentence. Copular verbs (to be, will, to remain) can also be predicate on their own, but are mostly used with an extension (“He remains Greek ”, “You were heard ”).

Non-full verbs are verbs that cannot form the predicate on their own.

The non-full verbs include:

  • Auxiliary verbs (in the broader sense)
    • Auxiliary verbs (in the narrower sense) (have, be, will)
    • Modal verbs (may, can ...)
  • Modality verbs, modifying verbs (seem, need ...)
  • Function verbs (in connection with a nominal component)
  • get-verbs (he gets the book as a gift)

Relationship to the object: transitive verb - intransitive verb

The verbs are divided into a transitive verb and an intransitive verb according to their relationship to the object .

Relationship to the subject: personal verb - impersonal verb

According to the relationship to the subject, a distinction is made between personal verbs and impersonal verbs .

Relationship to subject and object

Non-reflexive - reflexive, including reciprocal verbs

According to their relationship to subject and object, verbs can be divided into non-reflexive and reflexive, including reciprocal verbs.

Valence: one or more valued verbs

According to the number of ties or possible ties ( valence ), verbs are divided into:

  • avalente verbs
  • monovalent verbs
  • bivalent (two-valued) verbs
  • trivalent (three-valued) verbs

Semantic criteria

The semantic division of verbs is very varied. The terminology is inconsistent.

State, process and activity verbs

The division into:

It is sometimes instead of action verbs of process verbs (Ex .: bloom) on the one hand and causation verbs (Ex .: wake) on the other spoke.

Promotion type

Verbs are divided differently according to the type of action .

After a division, terminative and durative verbs are distinguished.

Durative verbs are verbs that characterize the pure sequence or course of events.

  • Example: bloom , live , dream

Terminative verbs limit the course of events in time or express a transition.

  • Example: bloom , wake up

Another division distinguishes between imperfective and perfective verbs . Subclasses of the imperfective verbs are durative and iterative verbs and subclasses of the perfective verbs inchoative (ingressive), terminative (egressive), affective, effective and punctual (momentary) verbs .

Absolute and relative verbs

An absolute verb does not need any further sentence supplements besides the subject , so that a grammatically correct and complete sentence can be formed. Relative verbs, on the other hand, require additional additions in addition to the subject so that the sentence is formed correctly. From the point of view of the terminology of the case, the following additions to German grammar can be cited:

  • Accusative object (direct object)
  • Dative object (indirect object)
  • Genitive object
  • Prepositional object
  • Adverbial definition

Etymological criteria

Many verbs are basic lexemes that are not derived from other words. Other verbs are derivative forms e.g. B. from:

  • Adjectives; Examples: redden , enlarge
  • Nouns: trumpet , ensnare , address
  • Proper names: röntgen , beckmessern , hartzen ; Berliners , Shanghai

Other verbs were created through composition , for example as a combination of verbs with:

  • Adjectives ( black work , keep clear , make good )
  • Nouns ( emergency landing , ensure , vacuuming , be sorry , halt , careful , breaststroke )

Types and types of verbs

Here is an alphabetical overview of the types and types of verbs. This is without claim to be complete. It must be taken into account that the same thing is named differently and that the same expression means different things depending on the theory / school / author.

The expression atelic verb (synonym: imperfective verb) denotes verbs, "the static states or relations or dynamic processes, processes, activities that do not require a culmination or end point".

Examples: laugh, sleep, sit ...

Atelic verbs are further divided into activities (example: to sleep ) and states (example: to know ).

As light verb is called verbs when they have lost in connection with certain nouns their "actual" importance as a main verb (almost).

Examples: access the application , bring to success , consider , are respected ...

Structural verb is called “Verbs that cannot stand alone in a sentence, but must be combined with an extension.” The structural verb and its extension form a verb structure that as a whole forms a predicate in the sentence and carries meaning and valence.

Example: freak out ... ; bring to white heat .

As you can see fabric verbs impersonal verbs , reflexive verbs , verbs and other verbs structure of

The verb sein is called a gerundive verb , "if it occurs in combination with an auxiliary verb (in the zu-infinitive)."

Example: You are to be congratulated.

As an action verb (also: activity verb (in a broader sense) ; English: verb of action, action verb ) are verbs that describe an activity.

Examples: get up, whistle, work ...

For event semantics, an action verb contains “an event or, more generally, a situation argument”.

Main verbs are verbs that can appear in a sentence without other verbs.

One regards the main verb , the copula verb and the compound verb as the main verb .

The term auxiliary verb (also: auxiliary (time) word , Auxiliar (verb) ; English auxiliary (verb), helping verb ) denotes “Verbs that serve to form compound verb forms.” You need “another verb for the complete statement of the sentence or another addition. "

Sometimes a distinction is made between tense, subjunctive and passive auxiliary verbs

Examples: Everyone laughed. (Tense auxiliary verb); I would come. (Auxiliary subjunctive verb); All places have been taken. (Passive auxiliary verb)

The main verb is used as the opposite term . The division into auxiliary and main verb is controversial. The Duden grammar from 2005 attracts the traditional designation auxiliary category verb with special function before.

The term imperfective verb is a synonym for the term atelic verb and denotes a verb that characterizes “the pure course of events”.

  • ingressive verb (also: inchoatives verb, incoative (um)):

The ingressive verb is a perfect verb that marks the beginning of an event.

Examples: flourish , grow stronger ...

Classifying verbs are "action verbs that have different moprhological forms for different types of objects, each of which is characteristic of the object."

As a medial verb (also: Mittelverb; engl .: middle verb) verbs are referred to on the one hand "which can neither form a passive nor can be combined with modal adverbs: similar, cost, mean, fit" and on the other hand "verbs in reflexive constructions of the type ,The door opens'".

  • Modality verb (also: semi-modal verb, semi-modal, modifying verb):

A modality verb is used to modify a (different) main verb in the infinitive with to its content.

Example verbs : begin, like, threaten, cultivate, seem, be able, promise, understand, try .
Example sentences : He threatened to become Federal Chancellor. / I still have work to do.

A verb can appear (in German) as a full verb or (in another meaning) as a modality verb.

Example: The weather promises to be good ( promise as a modality verb). The campaign speaker promises good weather ( promise as a full verb).

A modal verb refers to verbs that "in connection with a main verb in the infinitive from [say] that something is possible, necessary, wanted, allowed, required."

A zero-valued verb is a verb that does not need to be supplemented (cf. valence (linguistics) ).

A particle verb (also: distance compound ; particle compound) is used for compound verbs, “whose first members (the so-called particles or verb additions) in German. can appear separately from the verb stem in certain syntactic constructions. "

Example: ( look ): The girl is looking after her friend.

The perfective verb (also: terminative verb ; telic verb ) is a verb that denotes a time-limited event.

A distinction is made between the ingressive verb and the resultative verb .

According to the Duden grammar, the expression perfect verb is an outdated (quasi) synonym for the expression telic verb .

A verb is referred to as a privative for content (semantic) reasons if it removes something from an initial meaning.

Example: disinform , purify

The term action verb is partly synonymously (interchangeably) as action verb and partly in the narrow sense as atelisches action verb used.

A telic verb (also perfect verb , terminative verb ) is a verb that describes processes (actions, events) that presuppose an end point, but which “does not necessarily have to occur”.

Examples: win, die, fall asleep, blossom, start running, find, encounter, kill .

Expression used in Duden grammar for verbs which, unlike full verbs, “only occur as components of multi-part (complex) predicates”.

This includes the infinitely governing verb (example: Egon has played ), predicate verbs (copula verbs; seem, think, be called) and functional verbs (example: make a promise ).

A main verb is a verb that (in finite form) alone can form the predicate.

Example: She hates him.

" Action verbs are not agentive verbs with dynamic action type."

" State verbs are atelic verbs that describe static relations or facts and do not require a typical agent as a subject".

Examples: stand, lie, live, live, stay .


Web links

Commons : Verb  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Verb  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Karl Ernst Georges : Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary. 8th edition, Hannover 1918 (reprint Darmstadt 1998), Volume 2, Sp. 3417–3419, keyword verbum . ( at )
  2. Topic 10. Historical morphology: The verb. Grammatical categories. Word and form formation. P. 4, online ( Memento from March 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Flexion according to tense and mode. Online, ProGr @ mm (the Propaedeutic Grammar)
  4. Duden: German Universal Dictionary. 5th edition. 2003, ISBN 3-411-05505-7 .
  5. Refering Duden: The grammar. 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 516.
  6. Duden: Foreign dictionary. 5th edition. 1990 / Verb
  7. Tuwort , Tunwort ,
  8. See Kürschner: Grammatical Compendium. 4th edition. 2003, ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 83.
  9. ^ Kessel / Reimann: Basic knowledge of German contemporary language (2005), ISBN 3-8252-2704-9 , p. 64; similar to Hadumod Bußmann (Hrsg.): Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 , verb: conjugation and grammatical features.
  10. a b Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 .
  11. ^ Verb , DWDS
  12. ^ Lewandowski, Linguistic Dictionary (1975) / Verb
  13. Duden, Die Grammatik , 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 516
  14. Johannes Helmbrecht: The problem of the universality of the noun / verb distinction. Seminar for Linguistics at the University of Erfurt, January 2005, ISSN 1612-0612, p. 5 f Archived copy ( Memento from June 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Basics of generating German verb forms with the computer
  16. Peter Auer (Ed.): Linguistics. Grammar interaction cognition. JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-476-02365-0 , p. 94
  17. ^ Langenscheidt editors (ed.): Langenscheidt Premium Verbtabellen Deutsch , 2010, p. 17
  18. ^ Langenscheidt's Kurzgrammatik Deutsch , 5th edition, 1980, p. 45, ISBN 3-468-35110-0 .
  19. Pons (Peter Hoffmann and Volker Losch): Know how! Grammar training German 5th grade. 2007, p. 45 u. P. 103f.
  20. Duden: The Grammar , 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 519
  21. According to Helbig / Buscha: Leitfaden 2003, p. 28 f.
  22. ^ Pospiech, Syntax, in: Volmert (Hrsg.), Grundkurs Sprachwissenschaft , 5th edition (2005), ISBN 3-8252-1879-1 , p. 140
  23. Duden, spelling and grammar - made easy (2007), p. 128 Kürschner, Grammatisches Kompendium, 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 83
  24. Langemann / Felgentreu (ed.), Duden, Basic Knowledge School: German , 2nd edition (2006), ISBN 3-411-71592-8 , p. 58
  25. a b Lohnstein, Formal Logic (1996), p. 52
  26. a b c Kürschner, Grammatisches Kompendium, 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 83
  27. a b c Helbig / Buscha, Leitfaden (2003), p. 36
  28. ^ Ulrich Engel: German grammar. 3rd, corrected edition. Julius Groos Verlag Heidelberg, 1996, p. 410
  29. Absolute and Relative Verbs , Canoonet
  30. Duden, Die Grammatik, 7th edition (2005), ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 566
  31. ^ A b Jörg Meibauer: Introduction to German linguistics. 2nd edition, Metzler, JB ;, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 3-476-02141-6 , p. 196
  32. ^ Jörg Meibauer: Introduction to German linguistics. 2nd edition, Metzler, JB ;, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 3-476-02141-6 , p. 197
  33. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 ;
    Duden, spelling and grammar - made easy (2007), p. 129
  34. a b c Wilfried Kürschner: Grammatical Compendium. 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 85
  35. ^ Wilfried Kürschner: Grammatical Compendium. 4th edition UTB, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 86
  36. Kürschner, Grammatisches Kompendium , 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 84
  37. a b Kürschner, Grammatisches Kompendium , 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 89
  38. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 .
  39. a b Wilfried Kürschner, Grammatical Compendium. 4th edition UTB, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 90
  40. Detlef Langemann, Simone Felgentreu (ed.): Duden. Basic knowledge of schools: German , 2nd edition (2006), ISBN 3-411-71592-8 , p. 57
  41. Kürschner, Grammatisches Kompendium , 4th edition (2003), ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , pp. 90 f.
  42. a b Duden. The Grammar , 7th edition (2005), ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 576 ff.
  43. Details in Duden, Die Grammatik , 7th edition (2005), ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 572 ff.
  44. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 .
  45. a b Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 . Medial verb
  46. See Duden, spelling and grammar - made easy (2007), p. 129
  47. ^ Kessel / Reimann, Basic knowledge of contemporary German language , Tübingen (Fink), 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2704-9 , p. 11
  48. Example based on Katja Kessel, Sandra Reimann: Basic knowledge of German contemporary language. Fink, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2704-9 , p. 11
  49. Duden, Spelling and Grammar - Made Easy (2007), p. 128
  50. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 .
  51. Duden, Die Grammatik , 7th edition (2005), ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 565 fn. 1
  52. Cf. Hadumod Bußmann (Hrsg.): Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 .
  53. a b c Duden: The grammar. 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 570.
  54. a b Duden: The grammar. 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 565.
  55. Duden: The Grammar , 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 576.
  56. Duden, Die Grammatik, 7th edition (2005), ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 577
  57. Duden: The grammar. 7th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 , Rn. 580.
  58. Elke Hentschel (Ed.): Deutsche Grammatik . Walter de Gruyter, 2010, p. 386.
  59. Duden: The grammar. 8th edition. ISBN 978-3-411-04048-3 , p. 389.
  60. synonym: imperfective verb or durative verb (type of action )