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#1 Ultimate Guide To German Verbs

June 22, 2022

Are you ready for a grammar session? To learn German verbs properly, it's important that you understand German verb conjugation.

Like English and mainly Dutch, the German language conjugates its verbs. Also, similar to the French, Germans also have formal and informal designations for 'you.'

In this article, you'll learn about German conjugation, regular and irregular verbs using the most commonly used verbs.

You'll also learn how to conjugate present, past simple, and future tense verbs. In addition, We'll include a German verbs list throughout the article.

The conjugation rules aren't that difficult; all it takes is dedication and memorization to learn. Let's go!

 

Why Is It Important To Learn German Verb Conjugation?

Verbs are used in every sentence whether you have a conversation, writing, or reading, so you really must know how to conjugate verbs and recognize them.

 

Subjects And Pronouns In German

German verb conjugation

In German sentence structure, pronouns are used to replace nouns in a sentence. Pronouns will affect how a verb is conjugated in German.

There are formal and informal ways to address someone by the pronoun, 'you,' which is also often used in conjunction with 'they.'

EnglishGermanSingular or Plural
Iichsingular
youdusingular informal
youSiesingular formal
heersingular
shesiesingular
itessingular
youihrplural informal
youSieplural formal
wewirplural
theysieplural

 

German Verb Tenses

German verb tenses

In total, German has six verb tenses, and they are:

  • Simple present
  • Perfect
  • Simple past
  • Past perfect
  • Future 1
  • Future 2

Interestingly, there are no "continuous" or "progressive" tenses. This means that none of the German action verbs end with -ing.

 

German Verbs

In addition to six verb tenses, there are also three different classes of verbs. The three types of German verbs are:

  • Weak verbs (Regular verbs)
  • Strong verbs (irregular verbs)
  • Mixed verbs

Within these classes, however, are regular and irregular verbs. This means that regular verbs all follow the same conjugation patterns, while irregular verbs have unique patterns.

German Weak Verbs (Regular Verbs) Simple Present Tense

To use a weak verb (regular verb) requires you to learn a simple trick! The first thing you must do is reduce the verb to its 'stem.'

When looking at a list of verbs in German, you'll notice that the verbs in the infinitive verb form all end with -en. Let's take a look:

GermanEnglish
bleibento stay/remain
findento find
gehento go
habento have
heißento be called
lassento let/allow/have done
liegento lie/be lying
sehento see
seinto be
sollenshould/ought to
stehento stand
vergleichento compare
wissento know
wollento want

You need to remove the -en to return the word to its stem form. Therefore you would get:

finden = find, sehen = seh, wissen = wiss

Once you have reduced the verb to its stem form, all you have to do is follow this pattern of verb conjugation:

Verb To Let (lassen, verb stem lass)

EnglishGermanRule
I letich lasse(add e)
you letdu lassst (informal singular)(add st)
you letsie lassen (formal singular)(add en)
he letser lasst(add t)
she letssie lasst(add t)
it letses lasst(add t)
you letihr lasst (plural informal)(add t)
you letsie lassen (plural formal)(add en)
we letwir lassen(add en)
they letsie lassen(add en)

Verb To Lie ( liegen, verb stem lieg)

EnglishGermanRule
I letich liege(add e)
you letdu liegst (informal singular)(add st)
you letsie liegen (formal singular)(add en)
he letser liegt(add t)
she letssie liegt(add t)
it letses liegt(add t)
you letihr liegt (plural informal)(add t)
you letsie liegen (plural formal)(add en)
we letwir liegen(add en)
they letsie liegen(add en)

German Weak Verbs (Regular Verbs) Simple Past Tense

The rules of regular German simple past verbs are precisely the same as the simple present regular verb rules.

Here are what simple past regular verb conjugation looks like in German:

Verb To Know (kennen, verb stem kenn)

EnglishGermanRule
I letich kennte(add te)
you letdu kenntest (informal singular)(add test)
you letsie kennten (formal singular)(add ten)
he letser kennte(add te)
she letssie kennte(add te)
it letses kennte(add te)
you letihr kenntet (plural informal)(add tet)
you letsie kennten (plural formal)(add ten)
we letwir kennten(add ten)
they letsie kennten(add ten)

Verb to stop (halten, stem halt)

EnglishGermanRule
I letich haltte(add te)
you letdu halttest (informal singular)(add test)
you letsie haltten (formal singular)(add ten)
he letser haltte(add te)
she letssie haltte(add te)
it letses haltte(add te)
you letihr halttet (plural informal)(add tet)
you letsie haltten (plural formal)(add ten)
we letwir haltten(add ten)
they letsie haltten (plural formal)(add ten)

Strong Verbs (Irregular Verbs)

About 90% of the verbs in German are regular. However, more than 200 verbs are irregular. Learning the difference will take lots of time and practice, and we suggest that Ling App help you continuously study these verb conjugations, so you don't forget all these rules!

 German auxiliary and modal verbs are mostly irregular so let's take a look at those.

Common Auxiliary Verbs In German - Present Tense

German auxiliary verbs

Verb To Have (haben)

EnglishGerman
I haveich habe
You havedu hast
You havesie haben
He haser hat
She hassie hat
It hases hat
You havewir haben
We haveihr habt
They havesie haben

Verb To Be (sien)

EnglishGerman
I amich bin
You aredu bist
You aresie haben
He iser ist
She issie ist
It ises ist
You arewir sind
We areihr seid
They aresie sind

Verb To Can/Be Able To (önnen)

EnglishGerman
I canich kann
You candu kannst
You cansie können
He caner kann
She cansie kann
It canes kann
We canwir können
You canihr könnt
They cansie können

Verb To Want (wollen)

EnglishGerman
I willich will
You willdu willst
You willsie wollen
He willer will
She willsie will
It willes will
We willwir wollen
You willihr wollt
They willsie wollen

Verb To Know (wissen)

EnglishGerman
I knowich weiß
You knowdu weißt
You knowsie wissen
He knowser weiß
She knowssie weiß
It knowses weiß
We knowwir wissen
You knowihr wisst
They knowsie wissen

Irregular Verbs In German - Past Tense

Thankfully there is a much clearer and easier to memorize pattern with German past tense auxiliary verbs.

There are easier rules to follow, and the spelling of the stem word doesn't change, except for the verb to be.

Verb To Have (haben)

  • ich hatte (I had)
  • du hattest (You had)
  • er hatte (He had)
  • sie hatte (She had)
  • es hatte (It had)
  • wir hatten (We had)
  • ihr hattet You had)
  • sie hatten (They had)

Verb To Be (sien)

  • ich war (I was)
  • du warst (You were)
  • er war (He was)
  • sie war (She was)
  • es war (It was)
  • wir waren (We were)
  • ihr waret (You were)
  • sie swaren (They were)

Verb To Can/Be Able To (önnen)

  • ich könnte (I could)
  • du könntest (You could)
  • er könnte (He could)
  • sie könnte (She could)
  • es könnte (It could)
  • wir könnten (We could)
  • ihr könntet (You could)
  • sie könnten (They could)

Verb To Want (wollen)

  • ich wollte (I wanted)
  • du wolltest (You wanted)
  • er wollte (He wanted)
  • sie wollte (She wanted)
  • es wollte (It wanted)
  • wir wollten (We wanted)
  • ihr wolltet (You wanted)
  • sie wollten (They wanted)

Verb To Know (wissen)

  • ich wusste (I knew)
  • du wusstest (You knew)
  • er wusste (He knew)
  • sie wusste (She knew)
  • es wusste (It knew)
  • wir wussten (We knew)
  • ihr wusstet (You knew)
  • sie wussten (They knew)

Future Tense 1 In German

German future verb tense

To talk about something in the future, just like in English, Germans use the verb 'will.' The sentence structure for future1 tense in German is:

Subject + verb to will + infinitive verb

The verb to will (werden, stem verb werd)

EnglishGerman
I willIch werde
You willdu wirst (informal)
You willsie zult (formal)
He willer wird
She willsie wird
It willes wird
We willwir werden
You willihr werdet (plural)
They willsie werden

These are two examples:

  • wir werden sehen (We will watch)
  • Ich werde schreiben (I will write)

Future Tense 2 In German

This is essentially future perfect when an event is expected to have been completed by the time it happens in the future.

The sentence structure looks like this:

verb to will + past tense verb + unconjugated verb to have or verb to be

Here are some examples:

  • In zwei Wochen werden wir die Prüfungen geschrieben haben (In two weeks we will have written the tests)
  • Heute in einem Jahr werden wir schon unseren Urlaub in Australien verbracht haben. (A year from today we will already have had our vacation in Australia)

 

Here's A List Of Some Other Most Common German Verbs

GermanEnglish
arbeitento work
beginnento begin
bekommento get/receive
bestehento exist
brauchento need
entsprechento correspond
erklärento explain
erzählento narrate/tell
fallento fall
folgento follow
gehörento belong
laufento run
lernento learn
müssenmust/to have to
sagento say
scheinento shine
schreibento write
setzento set/put/place
sitzento sit
verstehento understand
versuchento try/attempt
ziehento pull/move

 

You Made It To The End!

This article certainly had a lot to learn about important German and common German verbs and all their different verb tenses.

The German language is incredibly similar to Dutch, and actually, it's not very different from English due to the grammar rules.

Still, we know this was a lot to take in, and learning a new language is better done in pieces with dedicated practice.

Learn German with Ling

That's why we recommend Ling App to help you become a master of German verbs! Our mascot Ling will be with you daily to remind you to practice your German and encourage you along the way.

Ling is free to try and offers over 60 other languages to learn right at your fingertips if you find that German just isn't the right fit for you. 

Go ahead! Try it now.

Download Ling today and start speaking confidently in German!

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