Glossary

a

Accusative

Akkusativ; one of the four cases used for declension. Indicates the direct recipient of the action expressed by the verb; answers the question wen? or was?

Compare: Nominative, Dative, Genitive

Ich kenne den großen Jungen.

Action verb

Handlungsverb; describes an action that is consciously performed by the subject.

Compare: Processual verb, Stative verb

arbeiten, lesen, rennen

Active

Aktiv; a sentence in which the subject itself is "actively" doing something.

Compare: Passive

Der Mann baut ein Haus.

Adjective

Adjektiv; describing words that modify nouns or pronouns. Adjectives tell us what something is like.

See also: Adverbial adjective, Attributive adjective, Predicative adjective

gut, böse, schnell

Adverb

Adverb; adverbs describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs; they give information about place, time, reason or manner. Adverbs are not declined.

hier, gestern, sehr, leider

Adverbial

Adverbiale Bestimmung; can consist of an adverb or a group of words and gives details about a place, time, reason or manner.

Ich warte hier.

Ich lerne jeden Tag.

Wir freuen uns auf deinen Besuch.

Er zitterte vor Kälte.

Adverbial adjective

Adverbiales Adjektiv; another word for Adverb.

See also: Adverb

schnell laufen

laut lachen

Adverbial clause

Adverbialsatz; type of subordinate clause used in place of an adverbial, usually introduced by a subjunction.

Weil ich verschlafen hatte, verpasste ich den Bus.

Adversative clause

Adversativsatz; type of adverbial clause that expresses a contrast, often introduced by wohingegenwhereas.

Er trinkt gern Milch, wohingegen ich darauf allergisch bin.

Article

Artikel; small word placed before a noun. Can be definite (der, die, das …) or indefinite (ein, eine …).

der Tisch

eine Blume

Attribute

Attribut; an adjective, noun, possessive, location, time, or even an entire subordinate clause that gives more details about a noun. Answers the question which or which one?

die schwarze Katze

das Fell der Katze

unsere Katze

die Katze im Bett

Die Katze, die im Bett liegt, ist schwarz.

Attributive adjective

Attributives Adjektiv; comes before a noun and is declined.

Compare: Predicative adjective

ein schneller Junge

eine laute Stimme

Attributive clause

Attributsatz; a subordinate clause that answers the question which? or which one? by giving more details about a subject or an object (usually a relative clause).

Hier ist das Buch, das du unbedingt lesen musst.

Auxiliary verb

Hilfsverb; the auxiliary verbs are: habento have, seinto be and werdento become. They form the compound tenses and the passive.

(compare: Full verb)

er hat gelacht, er ist gerannt, wir werden gehen

c

Causal

Kausal; causal adverbs introduce a reason or purpose.

folglich, nämlich

Causal clause

Kausalsatz; adverbial clause that states a reason, introduced by weilbecause, dasince

Ich fahre mit dem Auto, weil ich Angst vorm Fliegen habe.

Clause conjunction

Satzteilkonjunktion; introduces an adjective in a comparison.

so groß wie du

schneller als ich

desto/umso besser

Closed question

Entscheidungsfrage; a question without a question word, can be answered with yes/no.

Kommst du mit ins Kino?

Comparative

Komparativ; when we add the ending -er to the basic form of the adjective; used in comparisons with als.

See also: Superlative

klein – kleiner – am kleinsten

Er ist kleiner als du.

Er ist ein kleinerer Junge als du.

Compound verbs

Verbalkomplex; a predicate that consists of multiple verbs, e.g. in multi-part verbs like einkaufen gehento go shopping, compound tenses, the passive voice and modal verbs.

Wir gehen einkaufen.

Er hat geschlafen.

Wir wollen uns einen Film ansehen.

Concessive clause

Konzessivsatz; adverbial clause that expresses a limitation or an idea that stands in opposition to the main clause. Often introduced by obwohlalthough.

Obwohl sie keine Lust hatte, ging sie mit ihren Eltern spazieren.

Conditional clause

Konditionalsatz, if clause; adverbial clause that expresses a condition, introduced by falls, wennif.

Wenn es regnet, bleiben wir zu Hause.

Conjugation

Konjugation; when we change the verb to agree with the subject, tense, mood etc.

ich gehe, du gehst, …

Conjunction

Konjunktion; linking words that connect main clauses.

Word order: conjunction + subject + conjugated verb + ...

(compare: Subjunction, Infinitive conjunction, Conjunctional adverb, Clause conjunction)

aber, und, oder, sondern

Conjunctional adverb

Konjunktionaladverb; an adverb that connects two clauses.

Word order: conjunction + conjugated verb + subject + ...

also, darum, trotzdem

Er ist krank, darum ist er heute nicht gekommen.

Conjunctional clause

Konjunktionalsatz; a subordinate clause which is introduced by a subjunction.

See also: Subjunction

Er kann nicht kommen, weil er krank ist.

Consecutive clause

Konsekutivsatz; an adverbial clause that expresses a consequence, often introduced by dassthat or sodassso that.

Der Hund bellte so laut, dass alle Nachbarn wach wurden.

Consonant

Konsonant; a letter or sound that is not a vowel

(compare: Vowel)

b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

d

Dative

Dativ; one of the four cases used for declension. Indicates the indirect recipient of the action expressed by the verb; answers the question wem?

Compare: Nominative, Accusative, Genitive

Der Ball gehört dem großen Jungen.

Declension

Deklination; changing the ending of a noun, article, pronoun or adjective according to the case.

See also: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive

der große Junge (nominative)

den großen Junge (accusative)

dem großen Jungen (dative)

des großen Jungens (genitive)

Definite article

Bestimmter Artikel; an article that refers to a specific noun, similar to the in English.

der, die, das

der Tisch, die Katze

Demonstrative pronoun

Demonstrativpronomen; refers back to or emphasises something previously mentioned.

dieser, jener, das, der

Das weiß ich nicht.

Dependent clause

Direct object

Akkusativobjekt, direktes Objekt; is the person or thing that directly receives the action of a verb. Ask wen? or was? to determine the direct object.

See also: Accusative

Ich kenne ihn.

Ich gebe dem Bruder einen Apfel.

Direct speech

Direkte Rede; repetition of a statement in its original wording, indicated by a colon and quotation marks.

(compare: Indirect speech)

Er sagte: „Ich gehe jeden Tag joggen.“

f

Feminine

Feminin; grammatical gender of articles, nouns and pronouns.

See also: Gender, Neuter, Masculine

die Butter, eine Maus, sie

Final clause

Finalsatz; adverbial clause that expresses an objective or purpose, introduced by damitso that.

Ich sage das, damit du es dir merkst.

Finite verb

Finites Verb; conjugated verb.

ich gehe

du bist

er hatte

Frageadverb

Full verb

Vollverb; main verb that expresses an action, process or state and therefore carries the meaning of the sentence.

Compare: Auxiliary verb

Wir haben gearbeitet.

Es hat geschneit.

Sie hat hier gewohnt.

Future

Futur I; the future tense (werden + infinitive), used for intentions, plans, predictions, future events …

ich werde gehen

Future Perfect

Futur II; completed future (werden + Partizip II + haben/sein), expresses an action that will have been completed at a certain point in the future.

ich werde gegangen sein

g

Gegenwart

Gender

Genus; shows whether a noun or pronoun is masculine, feminine, or neuter.

Compare: Masculine, Feminine, Neuter

der Mann

die Frau

das Kind

Genitive

Genitiv; one of the four cases used for declension; answers the question wessen? or weswegen?

Compare: Nominative, Accusative, Dative

des großen Jungen

Genitive object

Genitivobjekt; certain verbs and prepositions take a genitive object.

Der Kandidat enthielt sich der Stimme.

Geschlecht

Gender

Grammatical number

Numerus; whether a noun or subject is singular or plural.

der Hund – die Hunde

ich gehe – wir gehen

Grundform

h

Hinweisendes Fürwort

Honorific

i

If clause

Imperative

Imperativ; expresses commands, orders and requests. Can be used with du, ihr, Sie, wir.

Warte!

Lauft!

Bleiben Sie!

Gehen wir!

Imperfekt

Indefinite article

Unbestimmter Artikel; an article which refers to an unspecified noun, similar to a or an in English.

See also: Definite article

ein, eine, einen …

ein Tisch, eine Katze

Independent clause

Hauptsatz; a clause that can stand by itself without additional clauses.

Der Junge lacht.

Indicative

Indikativ; the default mood for verbs; presents information as fact in a neutral manner.

Compare: Subjunctive

er geht — er ging — er ist gegangen

Indirect object

Indirektes Objekt, Dativobjekt; certain verbs and prepositions take an indirect object. Ask wem? to determine the indirect object.

In sentences with multiple objects, the indirect object is usually the person for whom the action is intended.

See also: Dative

Ich vertraue ihm.

Ich gebe deinem Bruder einen Apfel.

Indirect question

Indirekte Frage; a question that appears as a subordinate clause introduced by ob or a question word. No question mark is used.

Er fragt, ob du tanzen willst.

Sie möchte wissen, wie du heißt.

Indirect speech

Reported speech, indirekte Rede; when we report what someone has said without repeating their exact words. No quotation marks are used and the verb is usually in the subjunctive.

Compare: Direct speech

Er sagte, er gehe jeden Tag joggen.

Infinitive

Infinitiv; the basic, unconjugated form of the verb. Most German infinitives end in -en.

gehen, haben, lernen

Infinitive clause

Infinitivsatz; subordinate clause that uses an infinitive with zu.

Es freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen.

Infinitive conjunction

Infinitivkonjunktion; linking word that takes the infinitive.

ohne zu, statt zu, um zu

Inflection

Flexion; when the ending of a verb, article, noun, pronoun or adjective changes as a result of conjugation or declension.

Compare: Declension, Conjugation

ich gehe, du gehst

dem großen Jungen

meine neue Tasche

Interrogative adverb

Interrogativadverb; question words that ask about place, time, direction, manner, reason …

Compare: Adverb

wo, wohin, wann, warum, weshalb, wie

Wo wohnst du?

Interrogative pronoun

Interrogativpronomen; question words that ask about the subject or object.

wer, was, wem, wen, wessen

Wer hat das gesagt?

Intransitive verb

Intransitives Verb; verb that does not take a direct object.

Compare: Transitive verb

lachen → Er lacht.

k

Konditionalsatz

Konjunktiv

l

Locative adverb

Lokaladverb; adverb of a place; indicates wo? or wohin?

da, hierher, links, oben, weg

Locative clause

Lokalsatz; adverbial clause that refers to a place or location; introduced by wo?, wohin? or woher?

Wo er wohnt, ist es sehr schön.

m

Masculine

Maskulin, männlich; grammatical gender for articles, nouns and pronouns.

See also: Feminine, Neuter, Gender

der Baum, ein Hund, er

Mixed verb

Gemischtes Verb; irregular verb that changes its stem and forms its past participle with ge...t.

Compare: Weak verb, Strong verb

denken – dachte – gedacht

rennen – rannte – gerannt

Modaladverb; adverb of manner; answers the question wie?, wie sehr? or wie viel?

anders, gern, sehr

Modalsatz; adverbial clause that expresses manner, often introduced by indemby

In Deutschland begrüßt man sich, indem man sich die Hand reicht.

Modalverb; a verb that changes the meaning of another verb to expresses ability, wishes, permission, etc. Always followed by an infinitive.

The modal verbs are: dürfento be allowed to, können to be able to, möchten, mögento like, müssen must/have to, sollenshould/be supposed to, wollento want

ich kann lesen

er will schlafen

wir müssen lernen

Mood

Modus; the mood reflects the speaker’s intention or attitude towards the information being presented.

German has three moods; the indicative (standard mood), the subjunctive (shows doubt, wishes, subjectivity, impossibility …), and the imperative (commands and orders).

See also: Indicative, Subjunctive and Imperative

Ich komme zur Party. (indicative)

Ich käme zur Party, wenn ich Zeit hätte. (subjunctive)

Komm doch zur Party! (imperative)

n

Neuter

Neutral, sächlich; grammatical gender of articles, nouns and pronouns.

See also: Masculine, Feminine, Gender

das Geld, ein Haus, es

Nicht trennbares Verb

Nominative

Nominativ, one of the four cases used to decline articles, nouns, pronouns and adjectives. Indicates wer? or was? in a sentence.

See also: Accusative, Dative, Genitive

Der große Junge spielt Basketball.

Non-separable verb

Nicht trennbares Verb; a verb that contains a prefix which cannot be removed (be-, ent-, er-, ge-, etc.)

Compare: Separable verb

ich bestehe

ich habe bestanden

Noun

Nomen, Substantiv; a naming word. German nouns are declined and usually preceded by an article.

das Haus, der Mond, die Luft, die Leute

Numerus

o

Object

Objekt; the recipient of the action expressed by the verb. The object is a pronoun or a noun (together with any accompanying articles or adjectives) and appears in the accusative, dative or genitive.

Ich gebe dem Jungen einen großen Apfel.

Der Kandidat enthielt sich der Stimme.

Object clause

Objektsatz; subordinate clause that acts as an object.

Ich verstehe, was er meint.

Open question

Ergänzungsfrage; a question with a question word.

Wann ist sie gegangen?

p

Participle clause

Partizipialsatz; subordinate clause that contains the present or the past participle.

Vor Vergnügen quietschend, sprang das Kind in den Pool.

Partly reflexive verb

Teilreflexives Verb; a verb that has a different meaning depending on whether it is reflexive or non-reflexive.

sich ärgern → to get annoyed/upset

jemanden ärgern → to annoy someone

Passive

Passiv; the focus of the sentence is the recipient of the action (the object); the person or thing performing the action (the subject) is unimportant, unknown, or obvious.

Compare: Processual passive, Statal passive

Das Haus wird gebaut.

Past participle

Partizip II; the third form of the verb, used to form compound past tenses as well as the passive.

ich habe gelernt

ihr seid gefahren

Das Haus wird gebaut.

Past perfect

Plusquamperfekt; expresses an action that took place prior to a certain point or second action in the past.

Ich kam erst an als er schon gegangen war.

Past tense

Perfekt

Personal pronouns

Personalpronomen; the pronouns ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie and their declined forms mich, mir, dich, dir etc.

ich, du, uns, euch

Plural

expresses a multitude of something; nouns, articles, adjectives, verbs and pronouns can be used in the plural.

Compare: Singular

Die großen Geschenke sind für uns.

Plusquamperfekt

Polite form

Höflichkeitsform, honorific; the name given to the Sie conjugation. Use this in formal contexts and with strangers.

Wie heißen Sie?

Wie geht es Ihnen?

Positive form

Positive Form; the basic form of an adjective, often used in comparisons with (genau)so ... wie(just) as ... as.

ein kleiner Junge

Der Junge ist klein.

Er ist nicht so klein wie du.

Possessive article

Possessivartikel; stands in front of a noun and indicates possession/belonging. When used in place of a noun, it is technically a Possessive pronoun.

mein Tisch, eure Katze

Possessive pronoun

Possessivpronomen; pronoun indicating possession that is used in place of a noun. When used together with a noun, it is technically a Possessive article).

Mein Handy ist kaputt. Kann ich mit deinem telefonieren?

Predicate

Prädikat; the verb component of a sentence; can consist of one or more verbs, e.g. compound tenses, the passive, modal verbs or compound verbs.

Er lernt Deutsch.

Er wird Auto fahren.

Das Haus wird gebaut.

Ich gehe einkaufen.

Predicative adjective

Prädikatives Adjektiv; comes after the verbs seinto be, werdento become and bleibento remain and is not declined.

Compare: Attributive adjective

Das Wetter ist/wird/bleibt gut/schlecht.

Prefix

Präfix; a syllable that is added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning.

fahren → erfahren

Fall → Überfall

treu → untreu

Preposition

Präposition; small words that link nouns and pronouns to other words. The give information about time, place, manner, etc.

Ich wohne seit einem Jahr in einem Haus außerhalb der Stadt.

Present participle

Partizip I; verb form where the letter -d is added onto the infinitive; used as an adjective or in place of a clause.

schlafend, lesend, lachend

das fahrende Auto

Pfeifend ging er davon.

Present perfect

Perfekt; the past tense (haben/sein + past participle), used when focusing on the result of a completed past action.

ich habe gelernt

er ist gefahren

Present tense

Präsens; expresses present and future actions.

Ich lerne gerade.

Er fährt morgen nach Spanien.

Preterite

Processual passive

Vorgangspassiv; a passive sentence that expresses an action.

Compare: Statal passive

Das Haus wurde gebaut.

Processual verb

Vorgangsverb; describes a process that is not consciously carried out; the subject has no active control over the action.

Compare: Action verb, Stative verb

schlafen, schneien, wachsen

Pronoun

Pronomen; replaces an already known or previously mentioned noun and thus avoids repetition. Pronouns are declined and agree with the noun they replace in terms of gender and number.

Er sagt, dass sie uns hilft.

Mein Handy ist defekt. Kann ich deins haben?

Präsens

Präteritum

r

Reciprocal verb

Reziprokes Verb; uses the reflexive pronoun with the meaning einander (each other).

Wir sehen uns am Kino.

Reflexive pronoun

Reflexivpronomen (sich); is used with reflexive and reciprocal verbs.

ich freue mich

Reflexive verb

Reflexives Verb; a verb where the subject and the object are one and the same. Always used with a reflexive pronoun (sich) in the sense of myself, yourself, etc.

See also: Partly reflexive verb, Unreal reflexive verb, Reciprocal verb

Er zieht sich an.

Relative clause

Relativsatz; a clause that provides additional information about a noun from the previous clause. Always introduced by a relative pronoun and placed between commas.

Das ist der Mann, den ich gesehen habe.

Relative pronoun

Relativpronomen; a pronoun that introduces a relative clause; usually der/die/das… or welcher/welche/welches…

Kennst du den Mann, der dort steht?

Reported speech

s

Separable verb

Trennbares Verb; a verb with a prefix that is mobile; the prefix is separated from the main verb in certain conjugated forms.

Compare: Non-separable verb

anstehen – ich stehe an – ich habe angestanden

Simple past

Präteritum; past tense; mostly used in writing but also with modal verbs and certain others in everyday language.

ich lernte, er fuhr

ich hatte, ich musste

Singular

expresses one item; nouns, articles, adjectives, verbs and pronouns can appear in the singular.

Compare: Plural

der Tisch

Das große Geschenk ist für mich.

Statal passive

Zustandspassiv; a passive form that describes a state or result that occurs following a completed action.

Compare: Processual passive

Das Haus ist gebaut.

Stative verb

Zustandsverb; a verb that expresses a state.

Compare: Action verb, Processual verb

besitzen, wohnen

Strong verb

Starkes Verb; irregular verb whose past participle is constructed with ge...en. Strong verbs often experience a vowel change in the present tense.

Compare: Mixed verb, Weak verb

fahren – fuhr – gefahren

ich fahre, du fährst

Subject

Subjekt; the person or thing that performs the action of the verb. Appears in the nominative and is most often a noun (and its accompanying article and adjective).

See also: Nominative

Der alte Mann steht an der Ecke.

Ich fahre Rad.

Subject clause

Subjektsatz; subordinate clause acting as the subject of a sentence.

Wer fleißig lernt, wird belohnt.

Subjunction

Subjunktion; linking word that introduces a subordinate clause.

Note: after a subjunction the verb comes at the very end of the phrase: subjunction + subject + ... + verb

als, da, nachdem, seit

Es war schon spät, als wir nach Hause kamen.

Subjunctive

Konjunktiv; grammatical mood that presents information with an element of fantasy, impossibility, doubt or subjectivity. Used in conditional clauses and indirect speech.

er gehe, er ginge,

er sei gegangen

Subjunctive I

Konjunktiv I; the less common of the two subjunctive forms; used in idiomatic expressions and indirect speech.

Dein Wille geschehe.

Man sagt, er sei reich.

Subjunctive II

Konjunktiv II; the more common subjunctive form; used for wishes, unreal conditional clauses and polite questions or statements.

Compare: Would-form

Er wünschte, er hätte Zeit.

Das wäre toll.

Subordinate clause

Nebensatz; a clause whose meaning is incomplete without a main clause. Note: the verb comes at the end of subordinate clauses when they are introduced by a subjunction (weil, als, dass …).

Der Junge lacht, weil er fröhlich ist.

Substantiv

Noun

Suffix

Nachsilbe; a syllable added to the end of a word to change its meaning.

Herz → herzlich

Freund → Freundschaft

Telefon → telefonieren

Superlative

Superlativ; compares one person or thing with all others in the same group/category; expresses the highest degree of a certain characteristic or quality. Usually introduced by am or the definite article.

Compare: Comparative

klein – kleiner – am kleinsten

Er ist am kleinsten.

Er ist der kleinste Junge.

Syllable

Silbe; singular unit of pronunciation; one unbroken sound usually made up of a vowel and surrounding consonants.

Au-to-mo-bil

Sächlich

Neuter

t

Temporal clause

Temporalsatz; adverbial clause that expresses time; introduced by subjunctions like bevorbefore, nachdemafter, seitsince

Seit ich einen Hund habe, gehe ich viel spazieren.

Transitive verb

Transitives Verb; a verb that takes an accusative object; without this direct object its meaning is incomplete. Transitive verbs can be used in the passive.

Compare: Intransitive verb

Er beantwortet die Frage.

Die Frage wird beantwortet.

Trennbares Verb

u

Umlaut

Umlaut; the letters ä, ö, and ü.

ä, ö, ü

Unreal reflexive verb

Unechtes reflexives Verb; a verb that has the same meaning in both its reflexive and non-reflexive forms.

Compare: Partly reflexive verb

Ich kaufe (mir) ein Eis.

v

Verb

doing words; verbs express actions, processes and states. They are conjugated and used in different tenses.

lernen, fahren, machen

Vergangenheit

Vowel

Vokal; a letter or sound that is not a consonant.

Compare: Consonant

a, e, i, o, u, ä, ö, ü

w

Weak verb

Schwaches Verb; regular verb, the past participle is constructed with ge...t.

Compare: Mixed verb, Strong verb

lernen – lernte – gelernt

arbeiten – arbeitete – gearbeitet

Weiblich

Feminine

Word stem

Wortstamm; the root of the verb; find the stem by removing all endings and prefixes. We conjugate verbs and decline nouns by adding different endings to the word stem.

lauf-laufen, läuft, gelaufen, laufend …

Would-form

Würde-Form; in everyday language, würde + infinitive is more commonly used than the Subjunctive II (the meaning is the same).

Compare: Subjunctive II

ich würde gehen