Valency

 

Verbs have the capacity of determining the constituents with which they can, or should, be combined in a sentence. This property is called valency.

 

 

The verb "schenken", for example, takes three complements.

 

Example    
Ich schenke meiner Frau einen Ring.    
     
 
 
sentence constituent
obligatory complement 1
ich
subject
obligatory complement 2
einen Ring
accusative object
obligatory complement 3
meiner Frau
dative object

 

 

 

The verb "essen" takes one obligatory complement, but it can have optional arguments as well.

 

Example    
Ich esse gerade eine Pizza.    
     
 
 
sentence constituent
obligatory complement 1
ich
subject
optional argument 1
eine Pizza
accusative object
optional argument 2
gerade
      adverbial

 


 

 

Verbs are divided into the following categories, according to their complements:

 

"subject" personal verbs
impersonal verbs
   
"object" transitive verbs
intransitive verbs
   
"subject-object" reflexive verbs
reciprocal verbs