Personal verbs

(Verbs that are used in all grammatical persons)

Table of contents – personal verbs

On this page you will find the following:

  1. What are personal verbs?
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What are personal verbs?

Personal verbs (in German: persönliche Verben) are the verbs that can be used in all grammatical persons. This group is the most common one in German. Compare:

  • Personal verbs occur most frequently. Some examples of this type are:
    • essen (to eat), schlafen (sleep), treten (tread), singen (sing), fliegen (fly), putzen (clean), malen (paint), machen (make/do), schreiben (write), drehen (turn), etc.
  • They can occur in all three grammatical persons and must be conjugated accordingly:
    • Singular:
      • 1st person: ‘ich fahre (I drive)
      • 2nd person: ‘du fährst (you drive)
      • 3rd person: ‘er fährt (he drives)
    • Plural:
      • 1st person: ‘wir fahren (we drive)
      • 2nd person: ‘ihr fahrt (you drive)
      • 3rd person: ‘sie fahren (they drive)
  • Additionally, some personal verbs exist that can only appear in the third person (similar to the impersonal ones), but singular and plural are both possible. Typical examples are the following verbs and their synonyms. Among them are also some reflexive verbs with ‘sich’:
    • passieren’ (to happen) and the synonyms ‘geschehen, ablaufen, widerfahren, sich ereignen, sich abspielen, erfolgen,’ etc.
      • Das Unglück ist bereits passiert.“ (The disaster has already happened.)
      • „Dem Lottogewinner ist großes Glück widerfahren.“ (Great luck has befallen the lottery winner.)
    • gelingen’ (to succeed) and the synonyms ‘gut gehen, glücken,’ etc.
      • Die Plätzchen sind dir sehr gut gelungen.“ (Your cookies have turned out very well.)
      • „Puh, das ist noch mal gutgegangen!“ (Phew, that went well again.)
    • misslingen’ (to fail) and the synonyms ‘fehlschlagen, danebengehen, missglücken,’ etc.
      • „Tja, der Seitenhieb ging aber daneben.“ (Well, that sideswipe missed.)
      • Der zweite Versuch ist ihm ebenfalls missglückt.“ (His second attempt failed as well.)

Further explanations related to the ‘Personal verbs’

The following explanations are relating to the topic ‘Personal verbs (verbs that are used in all grammatical persons) in German’ and might also be helpful: