Verbes faibles en allemand

German, like many languages, possesses a rich and complex verb system. Within this system, one of the essential categories is that of weak verbs. While strong verbs undergo significant changes in their root forms when conjugated, weak verbs follow a more consistent pattern. In this article, we will look into the world of weak verbs in the German language, exploring their characteristics, conjugation patterns, and common examples.


What are Weak Verbs?

Weak verbs, or “schwache Verben” in German, are verbs that typically follow a regular conjugation pattern, making them easier to work with compared to their strong verb counterparts. The key feature of weak verbs is that they form their past tense and past participle by adding a “-t” ou “-et” ending to the infinitive root.


Conjugation Patterns

Weak verbs in German can be further divided into three main categories based on their conjugation patterns:

  1. Regular Weak Verbs (Type 1): These verbs add a “-t” ending to the infinitive root to form the past tense and past participle. For example, the verb “spielen” (to play) becomes “spielte” (played) in the past tense and “gespielt” (played) in the past participle.

  2. Mixed Weak Verbs (Type 2): Mixed weak verbs follow the same “-t” ending rule for their past tense but slightly alter their infinitive root. For example, the verb “helfen” (to help) becomes “half” (helped) in the past tense and “geholfen” (helped) in the past participle.

  3. Separable Weak Verbs (Type 3): Separable weak verbs are unique in that they consist of a prefix and a root verb. When conjugated, the “-t” ending is added to the root verb, while the prefix remains unchanged. For instance, “anrufen” (to call) becomes “rief an” (called) in the past tense and “angerufen” (called) in the past participle.


Common Examples

Here are some common weak verbs in German, each belonging to one of the three categories:


1. Regular Weak Verb (Type 1):

  • arbeiten (pour travailler)
    • Le passé : arbeitete (worked)
    • Participe passé : gearbeitet (worked)


2. Mixed Weak Verb (Type 2):

  • backen (to bake)
    • Le passé : backte (baked)
    • Participe passé : gebacken (baked)


3. Separable Weak Verb (Type 3):

  • fernsehen (to watch TV)
    • Le passé : sah fern (watched TV)
    • Participe passé : ferngesehen (watched TV)


Other Examples

Here are some more common weak verbs in German along with example sentences to illustrate their usage:


Kochen (to cook)

  • Sie kocht gerne italienische Gerichte. (She enjoys cooking Italian dishes.)
  • Wer wird heute Abend das Abendessen kochen? (Who will cook dinner tonight?)


Lesen (pour lire)

  • Ich lese gerne Bücher. (I like to read books.)
  • Gestern habe ich die Zeitung gelesen. (Yesterday, I read the newspaper.)


Spielen (à jouer)

  • Die Kinder spielen im Park. (The children are playing in the park.)
  • Gestern haben wir Fußball gespielt. (Yesterday, we played soccer.)


Trinken (à boire)

  • Kannst du bitte etwas Wasser trinken? (Can you please drink some water?)
  • Gestern habe ich einen Kaffee getrunken. (Yesterday, I drank a coffee.)


Lernen (apprendre)

  • Sie lernt Deutsch an der Universität. (She is learning German at the university.)
  • Wir haben gestern neue Vokabeln gelernt. (Yesterday, we learned new vocabulary.)


Hören (to hear/listen)

  • Ich höre gerne Musik. (I like to listen to music.)
  • Haben Sie das gehört? (Did you hear that?)


Wohnen (to live/reside)

  • Sie wohnen in einem schönen Haus. (They live in a beautiful house.)
  • Ich habe früher in Berlin gewohnt. (I used to live in Berlin.)


Kaufen (acheter)

  • Wir kaufen heute Lebensmittel ein. (We are buying groceries today.)
  • Gestern habe ich ein neues Auto gekauft. (Yesterday, I bought a new car.)