Main verbs

(Verbs with lexical and semantic function)

Table of contents – main verbs

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Explanation of main verbs
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What are main verbs?

Main verbs, also called full verbs (in German: Vollverben), are those verbs that can form the predicate of a sentence alone, which means as the only verb. In this role, they appear in a finite verb form and determine the meaning of the statement. This function distinguishes them from auxiliary verbs.

Information: Be aware that the German predicate differs somewhat from the English predicate, which contains more elements of a sentence.

  • Main verbs assume the lexical and semantic function and so convey the meaning of a sentence. Compare these examples that illustrate this:
    • „Peter isst ein Brot.“ (Peter is eating a sandwich.)
      • Only the main/full verb ‘essen’ (to eat) forms the predicate and is inflected according to grammatical person, number, and mood. Thus, it appears in a finite form (isst).
    • „Peter hat ein Brot gegessen.“ (Peter has eaten a sandwich.)
      • The non-finite verb ‘gegessen’ (eaten) does not form the predicate alone but carries the lexical meaning of the utterance.
  • Additional examples of full verbs in finite forms and how they may occur in statements:
    • „Warum grinst du so?“ (Why are you smiling like that?)
      • 2nd person singular, Präsens (present tense)
    • „Gestern gingen wir ins Kino.“ (Yesterday, we went to the movies.)
      • 1st person plural, Präteritum (past tense)
    • „Es regnet schon wieder.“ (It’s raining again.)
      • 3rd person singular, Präsens (present tense)

Further explanations related to the ‘Main verbs in German’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Full verbs (main verbs) in the German language’ and may be interesting too: