These are the 14 MOST important German Verbs

These are the 14 MOST important German Verbs (Do you know them?)

Verbs have different purposes and conjugations. In this video, I will introduce the most important verbs to you. Without verbs, little can be said, so let’s dive right into this!

Ich bin Spring German Lehrerin Brunhild und hier sind vierzehn super wichtige deutsche Verben! (I’m Spring German teacher Brunhild and here are 14 super important German verbs!)

1. Hilfsverben (auxiliary verbs)

Hilfsverben litterally means “helping verbs”, because they help forming the tenses. There are only three of them in German:

  • haben (to have)
  • sein (to be)
  • werden (to become)

The auxiliaries are highlighted in the following conversation:

KIM
Hast du ‘nen Stift für mich dabei?
(Do you have a pen for me?)

MARIE
Du bist schlimm! Wieso bist du nie vorbereitet?
(You’re bad! Why can you never prepared?)

KIM
Ich habe es vergessen, okay?
(I forgot, alright?)

MARIE
Ich werde noch wahnsinnig.
(I’m going to be insane.)

KIM
Sei nicht so!
(Don’t be like that!)

CHUNK ALERT!

Ich werde noch wahnsinnig (I’m going to be insane) is a chunk meaning “I am going to be insane”, which we say when we’re about to lose it.

For more useful chunks like this, make sure to download our free essential chunking kit. The link is in the description.

2. Modalverben (modal verbs)

The point of modal verbs is to specify the exact nature of another verb, the intention behind it.

There are six modal verbs in the German language.

  • können (can)
  • wollen (want)
  • sollen (should)
  • dürfen (may)
  • müssen (must)
  • mögen (like)

The modal verbs express whether something is possible, necessary, allowed, wanted or demanded.

Eating, for example.

  • ich kann essen (I can eat)
  • ich will essen (I want to eat)
  • ich soll essen (I shall eat)
  • Ich darf essen (I may eat)
  • Ich muss essen (I have to eat)
  • Ich mag essen (I like to eat)

It’s all about eating but the intention is a different one everytime. As you can imagine, just like with helping verbs, the modal verbs usually travel with another verb that they can specify. But it is also possible for both helpingverbs and modal verbs to stand alone in a sentence. In the following dialogue, you will see modal verbs standing alone.

MARIE
Musst du weg? Wir haben jetzt Mathe?!
(You must go? We have math now?!)

KIM
Ich mag nicht mehr.
(I don’t want to anymore.)

MARIE
Komm. Das kannst du!
(Come on. You can do it!)

Musst du weg (must you go) literally means: Must you away? The modal verb stands alone because there is no other verb needed for the sentence to make sense and be correct in German. The same goes for Ich mag nicht mehr (I don’t want to anymore) – I don’t want to anymore. Mag is mögen (to want) in the first person. What she doesn’t want anymore doesn’t need to be explained by another verb, it becomes clear in the context.

Das kannst du (You got this) means: You got this. Literally it means “You can this”.  Das kannst du (You got this, lit.: You can this) a perfectly correct sentence in German.

3. Vollverben (main verbs)

Last but not least, we have the main verbs! These are all the other verbs I haven’t mentioned. Here are some examples:

  • laufen (to walk)
  • essen (to eat)
  • denken (to think)
  • kochen (to cook)
  • reisen (to travel)

Since there are thousands of main verbs, I think we can settle for these five for now.

MARIE
Ich koche heute Indisch!
(I’m cooking Indian today!)

MONIKA
Oh, super! Leider reise ich heute nach München.
(Oh, great! Unfortunately, I am traveling to Munich today.)

MARIE
Schade. Also essen wir nur Frühstück zusammen?
(That’s a shame. So we will only eat breakfast together?)

MONIKA
Ja. Ich laufe zum Bäcker.
(Yes. I’m going to the bakery.)

MARIE
Ich denke, wir haben noch Brötchen von gestern Morgen.
(I think, we still have buns from yesterday morning.)

Who would have thought that five main verbs would carry us through an entire dialogue! Together with the personal pronouns, of course. At the end of this video I will insert a video which will help you to learn how to use pronouns and verbs together to form sentences.

As for now, it is time to summarize.

Summary

There are three kinds of verbs – Auxiliaries, modalverbs and main verbs. The auxiliaries we learned are:

  • haben (to have)
  • sein (to be)
  • werden (to become)

They help are forming the tenses and usually stand with a modalverb or main verb.

There are six modalverbs:

  • können (can)
  • wollen (want)
  • sollen (should)
  • dürfen (may)
  • müssen (must)
  • mögen (like)

Their job is to specify the intention behind a mainverb or an auxiliary.

And then we have learned five main verbs:

  • laufen (to walk)
  • essen (to eat)
  • denken (to think)
  • kochen (to cook)
  • reisen (to travel)

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