German Lessons


Funktionsverben: German Light Verbs

A light verb (Funktionsverb, also called vector verb or empty verb) is a verb that has very little intrinsic meaning on its own and requires an additional expression, usually a noun, to give it meaning. Some light verb expressions in German are similar to English, and therefore easy to understand, such as Einfluss ausüben (to exert infuence), zu Ende sein (to be at an end, to be over) or in Sicht bleiben (to remain in view). But many other German light verbs do not have direct parallels in English and are somewhat more difficult to understand. Let's look to some Yabla videos for some examples!

in Angriff nehmen (to attack, to tackle, to proceed with):

Und dann mal schauen, ob wir eventuell irgendwas Live-Mäßiges in Angriff nehmen.

And then see if we perhaps take on something live.

Caption 16, RheinMain Szene: Selig

unter Druck stehen (to be under pressure):

Ich denke, dass die Russen natürlich genauso unter Druck stehen.    

I think that the Russians are certainly under an equal amount of pressure.

Caption 13, Fußball: Die deutsche Nationalmannschaft

auf etwas Rücksicht nehmen (to show consideration for):

Wenn die Menschen doch nur mehr Rücksicht aufeinander nehmen würden.

If only people would show more consideration for one another.

Caption 10, Rücksicht im Verkehr: Christophorus, Die Mission

Learning Suggestions:

See if you can find out the proper English meanings for the following German expressions containing light verbs: eine Anwendung finden, in Verlegenheit geraten, eine Mitteilung machen, eine Wahl treffen, unter Beobachtung stehen, zu Ansehen gelangen, in Druck geben, sich in Abhängigkeit befinden, in Erfahrung bringen, in Auftrag geben, in Frage stellen. If you would like to go deeper into the finer distinctions between active and passive light verbs, look here!

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