Nehmen – Every Tense, Mood, & Voice

    This week’s German Learning Tip of the Week video is the conjugation of the verb “nehmen” in every tense, mood, and voice. If you want to see the video, you can watch it below, but I thought I would take this opportunity to show you some examples of this verb in action in every one of these tenses, moods, and voices using example situations from the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson.

    If you have ever watched the trailer for this movie, you will have seen that some bad guys are taking Liam Neeson’s daughter. In German you would say “Die bösen Männer nehmen Liam Neesons Tochter mit.” That is the present tense, indicative mood, and active voice.

    During the trailer, Liam Neeson says, “They are going to take you.” This is the future tense, indicative mood, and active voice. In German we would say, “Sie werden dich mitnehmen.”

    Once Liam Neeson’s daughter had been taken, we can use the simple past tense to write about it in the morning newspaper. In English, we would write “They took Liam Neeson’s daughter.” In German this would be “Sie nahmen Liam Neesons Tochter mit.” This is the simple past tense, indicative mood, and active voice.

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    If you were to tell a friend about this over the phone, you could tell them, “They took his daughter.” In German we would use the present perfect tense, indicative mood, and active voice to say “Sie haben seine Tocher mitgenommen.”

    After his daughter was taken, Liam Neeson gives a great speech to the man on the phone. At this point in time, we could say in English “After they had taken her, Liam Neeson spoke with the man.” In German we would use the past perfect tense, indicative mood, and active voice in the first clause of that sentence. It would look like this: “Nachdem sie seine Tochter mitgenommen hatte, hat Liam Neeson mit dem Mann gesprochen.”

    By the end of the 3rd movie in this series, bad men will have taken Liam Neeson’s daughter, his ex-wife, and Liam Neeson himself. This gives us an opportunity to use the future perfect tense in the indicative mood and active voice. In English we could say, “They will have taken his daughter and his ex-wife.” In German this would be, “Sie werden seine Tochter und seine Exfrau mitgenommen haben.”

    The cool part about the indicative voice is that I don’t really have to change much to make it into the passive voice. The situations are exactly the same, but instead of saying that the men are taking, will take, etc. I simply say that the people are being taken, will be taken, etc. The examples I gave are changed to the passive voice below.

    Liam Neesons Tochter wird von den bösen Männern mitgenommen. – Liam Neeson’s daughter is being taken by the bad men. (Present, Indicative, Passive)

    Du wirst von ihnen mitgenommen werden. – You are going to be taken by them. (Future, Indicative, Passive)

    Liam Neesons Tochter wurde von ihnen mitgenommen. – Liam Neeson’s daughter was taken by them. (Simple Past, Indicative, Passive)

    Seine Tochter ist von ihnen mitgenommen worden. – His daughter was taken by them. (Present Perfect, Indicative, Passive)

    Nachdem seine Tochter von ihnen mitgenommen worden war, hat Liam Neeson mit dem Mann gesprochen. – After his daughter had been taken by them, Liam Neeson spoke with the man. (Past Perfect, Indicative, Passive)

    Seine Tochter und seine Exfrau werden von ihnen mitgenommen worden sein. – His daughter and his ex-wife will have been taken by them. (Future Perfect, Indicative, Passive)

    There are obviously several situations in which the bad guys could order other bad guys to take Liam Neeson’s daughter. Depending upon the situation, they might use different forms of the imperative. If it is one henchman to the other and they have a pretty congenial relationship, they might use the “du” form with each other. The first one might say to the other, “Nimm sie mit!” (Take her.) If one bad guy is commanding more than one bad guy, he would say, “Nehmt sie mit!” (Take her.) If they were a bit more professional about their relationship, they might use the “Sie” form to command each other. In that case, they would say, “Nehmen Sie sie mit!” (Take her.) If two of the bad guys were watching from a distance before they decided to take Liam Neeson’s daughter, they might say to one another, “Nehmen wir sie mit!” (Let’s take her.)

    In the subjunctive 1, we simply need to change the situation a bit again. Let’s say that Liam Neeson is talking to his friend on the phone and telling the story of what happened. Based on what the bad guy said, Liam would use various forms of the verb “nehmen” to tell the story. The following examples should be self explanatory in regards to the situation.

    Er sagt, er nehme sie. – He is saying, he is taking her. (Present, Subjunctive 1, Active)

    Er hat gesagt, er werde sie nehmen. – He said he will take her. (Future, Subjunctive 1, Active)

    Er hat gesagt, er habe sie genommen. – He said, he took her. (Past, Subjunctive 1, Active)

    If the conversation were from the point of view that Liam Neeson is talking to his friend about what his daughter said to him on the phone, you could use the passive voice with the subjunctive 1. Here is what that would look like.

    Sie sagt, sie werde mitgenommen. – She is saying, she is being taken. (Present, Subjunctive 1, Passive)

    Sie hat gesagt, sie werde mitgenommen werden. – She said, she is going to be taken. (Future, Subjunctive 1, Passive)

    Sie hat gesagt, sie wurde mitgenommen. – She said, she was taken. (Past, Subjunctive 1, Passive)

    In order to get to the subjunctive 2 while still following the same logic as before, we have to assume that Liam Neeson is lamenting his life choices. He could still be talking to his friend on the phone, but now he is talking about “what if” type situations in which his daughter and ex-wife wouldn’t be taken. The present tense is a bit trickier, because he would have to have this conversation while his daughter is being taken, which would be a bit of a timeline problem. For that reason, I have phrased that example a bit differently.

    Wenn er sie mitnähme, würde ich das bemerken. – If he were taking her, I would notice that. (Present, Subjunctive 2, Active)

    Er würde sie nicht mitnehmen, wenn ich kein Polizist wäre. – He wouldn’t take her if I weren’t a police officer. (Future, Subjunctive 2, Active)

    Er hätte sie nicht mitgenommen, wenn ich da gewesen wäre. – He wouldn’t have taken her, if I had been there. (Past, Subjunctive 2, Active)

    In the same way that we changed from the active to the passive in the indicative mood, we need to do a similar change in the subjunctive 2.

    Wenn sie mitgenommen würde, würde ich das bemerken. – If she were taken, I would notice that.

    Sie würde nicht mitgenommen werden, wenn ich kein Polizist wäre. – She wouldn’t be taken, if I weren’t a police officer. (Future, Subjunctive 2, Passive)

    Sie wäre nicht mitgenommen worden, wenn ich da gewesen wäre. – She wouldn’t have been taken, if I had been there. (Past, Subjunctive 2, Passive)

    Now that your brain surely hurts, you can reward yourself for making it all of th way through this blog post, by watching the famous speech in German from this film.

    nehmen - every tense, mood, and voice

    Herr Antrim

    Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites.