German grammar terminology (part 4)

German grammar terminology (part 4) German Language Coach


The definite articles indicate the grammatical gender of nouns. Der – masculine noun, die – feminine noun, das – neutral noun. Grammatical and biological gender ought not to be mixed up. However, with people, grammatical gender coincides with biological gender.


Tenses are forms of verbs indicating when something is taking place, has taken place or will be taking place. For example, the present tense (das Präsens) is used to describe something that is in the process of happening, to describe facts or the eternal truth. The perfect tense (das Perfekt) describes events that are completed or occurred in the past.

Relative pronoun

A relative pronoun is used to introduce a relative clause to explain the antecedent of the previous clause in more detail. The finite verb is moved to the end in a relative clause in German.

Modal verb

A modal verb is used to modify the main verb to indicate that something may, can, must, or is allowed to happen. Modal verbs are conjugated and used with an infinite placed at the end of a sentence.


The subjunctive describes something that is not real, wishful thinking or attached to conditions. Sometimes in laymen’s terms, it is referred to as the conditional.

That brings us to the end of our four weekly instalments, which explain German grammar in more detail. Please get in touch if you are interested in learning or improving your German.

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