Relative verbs

(Relative verbs in German grammar)

Table of contents – relative verbs

On this page you will find the following:

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

What are relative verbs?

Relative verbs (in German: relative Verben) always require a subject and, additionally, at least one constituent of a sentence (adverbial or object) to form a grammatically correct sentence. The group of relative verbs is further divided into transitive and intransitive verbs. Compare their characteristics in detail:

  • One thing to note: When we speak about the term ‘predicate’ here, be aware of the difference between English and German grammar. For more details, see also the particularities of the German predicate.
  • Relative verbs always require another constituent which has to be either an object or an adverbial besides the subject. For a more exact subdivision, German grammar distinguishes between …
    • transitive verbs, which require an accusative object. Some examples of these are:
      • lesen (to read), fragen (to ask), beobachten (to observe), etc.
        • Ich lese ein interessantes Buch.“ (I’m reading an interesting book.)
          • subject ‘Ich’ (I)
          • predicate ‘lese’ (’m reading)
          • accusative object ‘ein interessantes Buch’ (an interesting book)
        • „Warum fragst du nicht deinen Lehrer?“ (Why don’t you ask your teacher?)
          • predicate ‘fragst’ (ask)
          • subject ‘du’ (you)
          • accusative object ‘deinen Lehrer’ (your teacher)
    • … and intransitive verbs, where no accusative object appears but another constituent. Some of the intransitive verbs are:
      • geben (to give), warten (to wait), wohnen (to live), etc.
        • Margret wohnt im Dorf.“ (Margret lives in the village.)
          • subject ‘Margret’
          • predicate ‘wohnt’ (lives)
          • adverbial ‘im Dorf’ (in the village)
        • Die Touristen warten auf ein Taxi.“ (The tourists are waiting for a taxi.)
          • subject ‘Die Touristen’ (The tourists)
          • predicate ‘warten’ (are waiting)
          • prepositional object ‘auf ein Taxi’ (for a taxi)

Further explanations relating to ‘Relative verbs’

These explanations are related to the topic ‘Use of relative verbs in German grammar’ and may also be interesting: