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Full verbs, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, empty verbs

Verbs can be classified according to their ability to function as the predicate of a sentence:

Full verbs can function alone as predicate
Auxiliary verbs  function as predicate together with the past participle or the infinitive of a full verb. Auxiliaries are used to form the complex tenses.
Modal verbs function as predicate together with the infinitive of a full verb.
Copula verbs function as predicate in combination with a noun or an adjective.
Empty verbs   


The central role of the verb in a sentence is called the predicate. A complete sentence always contains (at least) one predicate. The predicate has always one finite verb form (= verb form having a specific number and person). It can consist of one or more verb forms.

Simple predicate: Ich esse einen Apfel.
spielten im Garten.
Complex predicate:  Ich habe einen Apfel gegessen.
wollten im Garten spielen.

See Predicate for more information on the predicate.

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