Grammatical categories

Grammatical categories


Verbs are the only parts of speech that can be conjugated, thus expressing five grammatical categories : person, number, tense, voice and mood.


In the example that follows, the verb "schreibt" expresses these five categories.


Example person number tense voice mood
Julia schreibt ihre Diplomarbeit. 3. person singular present active indicative


Only finite verb forms express all five categories. Non- finite verb forms do not express person, number or mood. These verb forms are not conjugated and include the infinitive, the present participle (Partizip I) and the past partiple (Partizip II).


Furthermore, verbs are divided into irregular (starken) and regular (schwachen) verbs. Regular verbs retain their verb stem vowel unchanged in all tense forms and moods, while the verb stem vowel of irregular verbs changes, at least between the present form and the Präteritum.


  Examples verb stem vowel
schwaches (regular) verb spiele, spielte, gespielt verb stem vowel remains unchanged
starkes (irregular) verb singe, sang, gesungen verb stem vowel changes