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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. It is often possible to see a connection between the meaning of a combination and the meaning of its parts. The prefixes are added to the beginning of a word, while 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 in English 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-, il-, im-, in-, ir-, counter-:
allergic - anti-allergic
happy - unhappy
agree - disagree
relevant - irrelevant
There are two prefixes, namely the under- and 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
Other 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
There are some prefixes that are used to create words that suggest that something is partly true or that something appears to be one thing but is really something else: crypto-, demi-, half-, pseudo-, semi-, part-, quasi- mock-, neo-:
a semi-independent region - means that partly but not completely independent region
The form of the verb can be simple and compound. The simple forms consist of one word only:
The compound forms are formed by placing one, two, three or four auxiliary verbs before one of the principal verb:
Maria has gone.
The verbal form of the simple and compound verbs can be only three suffixes, endings -(e)s, -ing and -(e)d.
to play: plays, playing, played
The form of the German verb 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-.
zerteilen - (to divide into)
besitzen (to own)
entfallen (to unpack)
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 fills the last place in the sentence structure:
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 be 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)
Another strange thing in German, differing from the English, 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.)
1.2 Main and Auxiliary Verbs
According to their syntactical functions verbs may be divided into main or full verbs and auxiliary or helping verbs. As in German a main verb has a meaning of its own, which can express some kind of describable meaning. They can form the predicate by itself.
They played football.
1.3 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, used to, may, might, will, would, shall, should, need and ought to. These modal verbs are strictly followed by a verb in its infinitive form apart from ought to and used to:
You must pay the phone bill, otherwise they will cut me off.
These verbs are sometimes called anomalous finites or special finites verbs, because they have negative forms ending in -n't and are not used with to do.
will not - won't
need not - needn't
could not - couldn't
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.
The modal verbs are uninflected verbs, which means, they get no -s ending in the third person singular in present tense:
Peter can drive.
We use can to talk about ability
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 auxiliary verb stands before them, and not after as we would expect! When this happens it is usually a modal verb in a compound tense that is involved:
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!
2.2 Reflexive Verbs
Reflexive verbs are verbs whose direct and indirect object is the same as their subject. In German they consist of a simple verb followed by the reflexive pronoun in the accusative and dative case. This pronoun is the sich, that is the reason why the German verbs are often called 'sich-verbs'. In the dictionary is mentioned, that the verb is coupled with sich or not, furthermore, shows also, which kind of case is construed with. In accusative case the reflexive pronoun often takes a preposition.
Maria freut sich über das Geschänk. (Maria is very glad about the gift)
Apart from sich, they are the same as the ordinary accusative and dative object pronouns. I will mention below two reflexive verbs showing all the reflexive pronouns in their accusative and dative case:
sich trocknen + Dative
ich trockne mich
du trocknest dich
er trocknet sich
wir trocknen uns
ihr trocknet euch
sie trocknen sich
Sie trocknen sich
sich erlauben + Accusative
(allow oneself something)
ich erlaube mir
du erlaubst dir
er erlaubt sich
wir erlauben uns
ihr erlaubt euch
sie erlauben sich
Sie erlauben sich
The reflexive verbs are divided into two parts: real reflexive verbs and fake reflexive verbs. The real reflexive verbs can be used only with reflexive. In accusative case may not be replaced by another person or thing. They can be only dative or only accusative. The most important real reflexive verbs are sich interesieren für+Acc, (be interested in something), sich bedanken für+Acc (to express one's thanks for something), sich kümmern um+Acc (take care of something).
The fake reflexive verbs can be made use of both the reflexive pronoun and the accusative case. We use them in dative case only:
Uli wäscht ihr Tochter (Uli washes her daughter)
Uli wäscht sich. (Uli wash himself)
Another difference between the two languages is that, the reflexive pronoun in German can change the verb's meaning:
entchuldigen (to apologize)
sich entshuldigen (make excuses)
sich entschuldigen (bei + D) / (beg somebody's pardon)
sich entschuldigen (für + Akk) / (beg one's apologize for something)
Reflexive verbs are occasionally used in German where English uses a passive:
Das läßt sich machen! (That can be done!)
In English exists just reflexive pronoun, which receives a -self ending, in plural -selves. Certain cases instead of the reflexive pronoun we can use simply the personal noun. In German it is not allowed.
I comb myself.
They can be used after adverbs as, than, like, or after a noun followed by a conjunction, and or but:
Katy bought a same car as myself.
1.3 Regular and Irregular Verbs
All the regular verbs in English are simply formed by adding an -d or -ed ending both in Past Tense and in the Past Participle. In German the Past Tense and the Past Participle are never corresponding.
open - opened - opened
denken - dachte - hat gedacht (to think)
Verbs which ending in -y preceded by a consonant change -y into -i before -ed:
try - tried - tried
Final -y remains unchanged if it is preceded by a vowel or before the suffix -ing:
enjoy - enjoyed - enjoyed
lay - laid - laid
pay - paid - paid
The final consonant is doubled before the suffixes -ed:
when a verb of one syllable has a short vowel marked by one letter and ends in a single consonant marked by one letter:
beg - begged - begged
if the stress is on the second syllable of the verb:
occur - occurred - occurred
if the verb ends in -l:
fulfill - fulfilled - fulfilled
if the verb ends in -ap or -ip and if the stress is on the first syllable:
kidnap - kidnapped
The past tense and the past participle of irregular verb vary and must be learnt. If we make a comparison according to their dictionary form we can take the followings into consideration:
the three principal form the verbs are the same:
set - set - set
the first and the second form are the same:
beat - beat - beaten
the second and the third form are the same:
bleed - bled - bled
the first and the third form are the same:
become - became - become
the three principal form are different:
sing - sang - sung
In German grammar we identify three type of 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)