The majority of English words we use every day were taken from the Latin or Greek languages. In order to know the meaning of an unknown word, we have to find the meaning of its stem. Many words are formed from combination of other words or from combination of words and prefixes or suffixes. The suffixes are added to the end of the verb and it changes its meaning and its function. The stem is the main part of the verb, which contains the basic definition of the verb. Most prefixes are used to make words negative or to make words with the opposite meaning. The most common prefixes are a-, de-, dis-, il-, mis-, non-, un-, anti-, contra-:
allergic - anti-allergic
happy - unhappy
agree - disagree
There are two prefixes, namely the under-, over-, which generally "go together", that means, if the one of these we use as a prefix to a verb, it is very likely that we can use the other prefix, too. They don`t change the word`s meaning, adding the under- to the stem means, that it is not enough from something, the over- reflects the opposite side, it is too much of something.
cook: overcook - undercook
Most prefixes in English language are used in words that contain meanings, such as having a 'lot of something', 'to a large degree' or 'always', such as all-, ever-, extra-, hyper-, mega-, multi-, and so on.
hypersensitive , extra-strong , multilateral
The form of the verb in German language is complicated with the separable and inseparable prefixes, altering its meaning, its function and its position, so, from the viewpoint of the form can be the followings:
separable and inseparable compound verbs
Act normally, without changing their meaning. These verbs are without any compound part, combining form respectively prefix. The most German simple verbs are irregular.
helfen - half - hat geholfen (to help - helped - helped)
Verbal prefixes do not exist as independent words, unlike the most separable ones. They never take the stress, which always goes on the verb itself. They are formed by adding a prefix to the simple verb, which changes totally their meaning.
zählen (to count)
erzählen (to tell a tale)
During the conjugation the verbal prefix never get off from the stem. The only difference between verbs with prefix and simple verbs is that they have no ge- in their past participle.
Die Mutter erzählte dem Kinder ein Märchen.
(The mother tell a tale for the child)
Die Mutter hat dem Kind ein Märchen erzählt.
(The mother has told a tale for the child)
The most important and the well-known prefixes are ver-, be-, miss-, zer-, ent-, er-.
Separable and inseparable compound verbs
Most prefixes are separable and most separable prefixes can also be used as part of speech in their own right, usually prepositions, occasionally adverbs, nouns, adjectives and infinitives. The separable prefix is found attached to its verb in the infinitive, and also remains attached in the present participle.
einladen (to invite) ; teilnehmen (to participate)
Ich muß aufstehen. (I have to get up)
If the infinitive is used with zu, the zu get wedged in between the prefix and the stem:
Ich versuche aufzustehen. (I am trying to get up.)
Once the verb is used in any of its tenses, however, the prefix separates from it and goes to the end of the sentence construction:
Ich stehe früh auf. (I get up early)
If the verb itself is at the end of the sentence, as is the case in subordonate order, the prefix anf the verb join up again:
Ich weiß nicht, wann wir heute abfahren. (I don't know when we are leaving today.)
In the past participle the ge- form appears between prefix and the verb :
Der Zug ist schon abgefahren. (The train has already left.)
The prefixes durch-, hinter-, über-, um-, unter-, voll- are separable with some verbs and inseparable with others. Whether they are being used separably or inseparably can immediately de distinguished in speech by where the main accent is, on the prefix or on the stem of the verb. Often the same verb has different meanings according to the whether the prefix is separable and inseparable. Quite frequently the separable version of the verb will have a literal meaning, the inseparable a figurative one:
unterstellen - unterstellte - unterstellt (to subordinate, to submit)
unterstellen - stellte unter - untergestellt (to store, to stock)
A separable prefix followed by an inseparable one separates, but the verb has no ge- in its past participle:
zubereiten (to prepare)
Er bereitet das Mittagessen zu. (He has prepared the lunch.)
With the verb mißverstehen (to misunderstand), which has a double inseparable prefix, the prefixes do not separate and there is no ge- form in the past participle, however, in the infinitive with zu and miß- behaves like a separable prefix:
Sie mißversteht mich immer. (She always misunderstands me.)
Type of verbs
2.1 Modal Auxiliary Verbs
The modal auxiliary verbs in English are generally followed by the bare infinitive of the main verb with the exception of ought to. We use them to allow us to express concepts such as 'ability' and 'obligation', furthermore to perform a wide range of functional tasks, like making request or speculating. The context in which modals appear is important as each modal has a number of different uses. Some modals do not have a future or passive form. We cannot use two modals together. The most common English modal verbs are can, could, must, have to, may, might, will, would, shall, should, need and ought to. The modal verb is strictly followed by a verb. This is differing from the German language.
You must pay the phone bill, otherwise they will cut me off.
The past form takes the bare infinitive of have and the past participle of the verb:
You could have been the person who stops her.
In contrast with English, German language uses only six modal verbs. These are: sollen (supposed to), wollen(to want or will), dürfen (to be allowed to), können(able to or can), mögen (like, may ), müssen (must, to have to). These modals play a very determining role in the meaning. It is characterized, that we conjugate the modals instead of the verb, taking the second place in the sentence and the verb in their infinitive form goes to the end of the sentence.
Kannst du mitfahren? Can you come with me?
Das mag ich nicht! I do not like that!
Ich möchte etwas länger bleiben. I should like to stay a little longer
The modals can also be used without a dependent infinitive.
Du mußt nicht! You do not have to!
The modal verbs all have two past participles, one formed ge-â€¦t, and the other is identical with the infinitive. The infinitive form is used where the modal das a dependent infinitive.
Du hast nicht fahren können? Ich habe leider nicht gekonnt.
You were not able to go? I am sorry, I could not.
When two infinitives come together at the end of the subordinate clause, the modal verb stands before them, and not after!
Ich weiß, daß du nicht gestern hast fahren können.
I know that you could not go yesterday.
A modal may be followed by another modal, that in English we cannot use!
Das mußt du aber machen können! You really must to able to do that!
There are three type of German verb:
weak or completely regular verb
strong or irregular verb
mixed or partly strong, partly weak verb
All German verbs have infinitive ending -en, occasionally just -n, so it is not possible to tell from the infinitive of a verb, which is weak, strong or mixed. In all tenses sie (she), es (it), man (one), and singular nouns are followed by the er (he) form of the verb, plural nouns are followed by the sie (they) form.
Weak or completely regular verbs
The vast majority of German verbs are weak and follow a single pattern. Their past tense is formed by adding -te to their stem and their past participle is formed geâ€¦..t:
lernen - to learn
ich lerne (I learn)
ich lernte (I learned)
ich habe gelernt (I have learned)
Strong or irregular verbs
Strong verbs change their stem vowels in the past tense and often in their past participles and sometimes in parts of the present as well. They may also change the consonant after that vowel. Their past participle are formed geâ€¦..en.
singen (to sing)
ich singe (I sing)
ich sang (I sang)
ich habe gesungen (I have sung)
Mixed or partly strong, partly weak verbs
There are only nine mixed verbs in German language, namely nennen (to name), bringen (to bring), denken (to think), haben (to have), rennen (to run), senden (to send), wenden (to turn), kennen (to know) andwissen (to know). These verbs take weak endings, but also change stem vowel and sometimes the following consonant, like strong verbs.
ich bringe (I bring)
ich brachte (I brought)
ich habe gebracht (I have brought)