Introduction to German VerbsImportant Verbs & Conjugation

Let's tackle the German verbs: 'to have', 'to make', 'to be', and verb conjugation.

lessonsverbsconjugation
01.12.2023

Now that we have covered the basics on German nouns, let's turn our attention to German verbs: the words that describe what action the subject (noun or pronoun) is performing.

Take a look at this sentence:

Die Frau
+
subject
lernt
+
action
Deutsch.

The woman learns German.

What is the woman doing? The woman is learning German. Let's learn how to build simple sentences like this, with a subject and a verb.

1. German Verb Conjugation

In order to use verbs in German sentences, we must first cover the topic of conjugation. Let's do this by learning how to conjugate the verb machen, which means 'to make'.

Whenever we introduce new verbs, we do so using the infinitive (or: the root form of the verb). For example: machen.

However, depending on the sentence subject or tense, the word may be inflected, or transform. This is called conjugation.

Take a look at this conjugation table, for machen:

PronounConjugationTranslation
ichmacheI do
dumachstYou do (informal)
er / sie /esmachtHe / She / It does
wirmachenWe do
ihrmachtYou do
siemachenThey do
SiemachenYou do (formal)
machen / to do; present tense

As noted above, how the verb is conjugated is determined by two major factors:

  • what tense is being used (e.g: present tense, past tense)
  • what noun (e.g. the dog, the woman) or pronoun (e.g: I, we, they) is being used

In this lesson, we will only focus on the present tense.

2. Regular German Verbs

Most German verbs, called regular verbs, follow a common conjugation pattern. This means that if you know how to conjugate one verb of this kind, you will be able to do so to others in the same way.

The verb machen is an example of a regular verb.

Another example is gehen, which means 'to go'. Let's see how this verb is conjugated, similarly to machen:

PronounmachengehenEnding
ichmachegehe-e
dumachstgehst-st
er / sie /esmachtgeht-t
wirmachengehen-en
ihrmachtgeht-t
siemachengehen-en
Siemachengehen-en
machen / to do; gehen / to walk; present tense

Notice how the beginnings (the stems) of both verbs stay the same, whilst the endings transform in the same ways.

Using the same conjugation pattern, try to guess the correct endings for the regular verbs below:

PronounmachensagenlernenEnding
ichmache-e
dumachst-st
er / sie /esmacht-t
wirmachen-en
ihrmacht-t
siemachen-en
Siemachen-en
machen / to do; gehen / to walk; present tense

Well done! 🎉

You're starting to conjugate German verbs!

This is an important step, as you will be conjugating verbs in practically every sentence you construct.

Before we move on, here's a short list of other commonly used regular verbs to chew on:

reden
to speak
spielen
to play
leben
to live
glauben
to believe
fragen
to ask
arbeiten
to work
💡

There are also special verbs in the German language, called trennbare Verben, or separable verbs. In the present tense, the prefix of these verbs separate and are placed at the end of the simple sentence (or main clause). An example of a separable verb is aufstehen, which means 'to get up'. In a sentence, it may be used like so: Ich stehe morgen auf.

3. Irregular German Verbs

Unlike regular verbs, which follow the same conjugation pattern, those of irregular verbs are unique. This means that it would be best to simply memorise them, as you come across them.

Luckily, you'll come across two common irregular verbs so often, that you'll learn their unique patterns in no time! In fact, you came across one of them already, in our first lesson on introducing ourselves! These two essential verbs are: sein (to be), and haben (to have).

PronounseinTranslation
ichbinI am
dubistYou are
er / sie / esistHe / She / It is
wirsindWe are
ihrseidYou are (pl.)
siesindThey are
SiesindYou are (formal)
sein / to be; present tense
PronounhabenTranslation
ichhabeI have
duhastYou have
er / sie / eshatHe / She / It has
wirhabenWe have
ihrhabtYou have (pl.)
siehabenThey have
SiehabenYou have (formal)
haben / to have; present tense

The German verbs sein and haben are especially important, because they allow us to understand who someone is, how someone is feeling, what someone has, and so on.

let's practice recognising these irregular verbs, by guessing the correct translations of the sentences below:

Er hat einen guten Beruf.

Great job 🎉!

You are beginning to use some of the most important verbs in the German language!

4. German Verb Practice

Before heading to the next lesson, practice what you've just learned, with the exercises below.

Tap the words to construct your sentence.

Write the correct conjugated verb in each input.

1.Ich essen (to eat)gerne Äpfel.
2.Mein Bruder habeneinen Hamster.
3.Der Junge seinsehr schlau.
4.Ich habendreizehn Katzen.

Try to construct your own simple sentences with a subject and action:

WordGerman Word with Article
catdie Katze
I make art.I make art.
She reads a book.
We play cards.
I am still a student.
He has a cat.

Well done!

You are building simple sentences, in German!

Now you're ready to move on to the next lesson, on German declension.


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