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Finite and non-finite verb forms

 
 
Finite verb forms have a specific person and number.
Non-finite verb forms do not have person and number.


Finite verb forms

Finite verb forms express the grammatical categories mood, tense and voice, as well as person an number:

Person: 1st person, 2nd person 3rd person
Number singular, plural
Mood: indicative, subjunctive, imperative
Tense: present, preterite, perfect, past perfect, future I, future II 
Voice: active, passive

Example of a finite verb form:

(du) gingst   Person 2nd person 
Number  singular
Mood indicative
Tense preterite
Voice active

A clause needs a finite verb form to be complete. The finite verb form is the predicate of the clause. A clause usually contains only one finite verb form.


Non-finite verb forms

Unlike finite verb forms, non-finite verb forms do not express the categories person and number.

Example of a non-finite verb form:

gehen   "Mood“ infinitive
Tense present
Voice active

German has three types of non-finite verb forms:





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