Tag Archive: verbs

Conjugable (konjugierbar)
verbs (Verben, Zeitwörter)
you can form 3 principal forms

  • weak verbs: e.g. tanzen-tanzte-getanzt (dance)
  • strong verbd: e.g. singen-sang-gesungen

To be considered in conjugation: person (ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie, Sie) and mood (indicative, conditional, imperative, subjunctive)


declinable (deklinierbar)
nouns (Nomen, Hauptwörter) adjectives (Adjektive, Eigenschaftswörter) article (Artikel, Geschlechtswörter) pronoun (Pronomen, Fürwörter) numerals (Numerale, Zahlwörter)
nouns are capitalised and usually appear with an article – definite (der, die, das) or indefinite (ein, eine, ein)

e.g. der Mann (man), die Frau (woman), das Kind (child)

There are various nouns that are usually used without article, e.g. countries (Deutschland, Spanien, Belgien), and subjects at school (Biologie, Mathe, Musik)

adjectives describe attributes of nouns. you can form comparatives with adjectives.

e.g. groß-größer-am größten, gut-besser-am besten, lieber-lieber-am liebsten

articles are used in front of nouns, they change according to which case applies

e.g. der, die, den, des, ein, einem, eine


these words can be used for and instead of nouns

e.g. ich, mir, sich, jene, man, jemand, kein, alle

as in

Alle Kinder sind klein > Alle sind klein (all children are small)

numerals indicate frequency

e.g. ein (one), zwanzig (twenty), manche (some), ein paar (a few), dreimal (three times), der Fünfte (the fifth)


unalterable words (unveränderliche Wortarten, Partikeln)
conjunctives (Konjunktive, Bindewörter) prepositions (Präpositionen, Vorwörter) adverbs (Adverbien, Umstandswörter) interjections (Interjektionen, Ausrufewörter)
conjunctions connect words and sentences

e.g. und (and), dass (that), aber (but), wann (when), oder (or, doch (yet…), weil (because)

as in

Sarah und Peter fragen, ob sie kommen dürfen. (Sarah and Peter ask whether they’re allowed to come)

prepositions come before nouns or word groups and determine their case

e.g. in, zu (to), mit (with), bei (at), gegen (against), vor (before), nach (after), mit (with)

as in

Ich stehe beim Auto (3rd case) . (I’m standing by the car)

adverbs modify the meaning of an adjective, verb, or other adverb (they express manner, place, time, or degree)

e.g. auch, nur, hinten, wann, gern, sehr

as in

Ich mag dich sehr. (I like you a lot)

these words can stand alone (in a sentence)

e.g. Hurra! (hurray), Pfui! (yuck), Hallo!


Das Futur oder die Zukunft is one of the easiest tenses in German as all you need is the finite form of the auxiliary verb ‘werden’ (will – but also to become) and the infinitive (the basic form) of the verb that describes the action.

How to conjugate ‘werden’ and examples of the future tense:

Person finite form of ‘werden’ infinitive verb English

1. Person Singular

ich werde essen I will eat

2. Person Singular

du wirst trinken You will drink

3. Person Singular

er/sie/es wird lesen He/she/it will read

1. Person Plural

wir werden spielen We will play

2. Person Plural

ihr werdet singen You (pl) will sing

3. Person Plural

sie/Sie werden tanzen They/You (formal) will dance


  • In regards to future events, the future tense and the present tense are more or less interchangeable.
    • Planned future events, eg: Nächsten Sommer werden wir nach Schweden ziehen. (Next summer we’ll move to Sweden.) vs Nächsten Sommer ziehen wir nach Schweden. (Next summer we’re moving to Sweden.)
  • In some cases, however, you have to use the future tense:
    • When you assume or hope something for the future, eg: Wir werden schon eine gute Zeit haben*, wenn wir in den Urlaub fliegen**. (We’ll surely have a good time when we’re going on holiday.)
    • When you assume something for the present, eg: Es wird schon gut gehen*. (It will be all right)
    • When you want someone to do something (in a request), eg: Du wirst heute in die Schule gehen! (You’re going to go to school today!)

*note that assumptions & hopes are often strengthened by words such as: schon, wohl, sicher, bestimmt.

**note that the second ‘future’ phrase is in the present tense.

formation – weak verbs – e.g. lernen (to learn)

  • ich lerne
  • du lernst
  • er/sie/es lernt
  • wir lernen
  • ihr lernt
  • sie/Sie lernen

(see Verbs – an Introduction for more information on weak and strong verbs)

The verbs ‘sein’ (to be) and ‘haben’ (to have) are irregular:

1. Person Singular

ich bin habe

2. Person Singular

du bist hast

3. Person Singular

er/sie/es ist hat

1. Person Plural

wir sind haben

2. Person Plural

ihr seid habt

3. Person Plural

sie sind haben


Sie sind haben


  • if the word ends in t/d, you add an extra e in front of the ending of the 2nd and 3rd person singular as well as the 2nd person plural. Eg: warten (to wait): du wartest, er wartet, ihr wartet
  • if the word ends in s/ß/z, you only add a t to the 2nd person singular form. Eg: tanzen (to dance) – du tanzt
  • pay attention to strong verbs as their word stem may change:

formation – strong verbs – e.g. sehen (to see)

  • ich sehe
  • du siehst
  • er/sie/es sieht
  • wir sehen
  • ihr seht
  • sie/Sie sehen


  • States and facts in the present: Berlin ist eine Stadt in Deutschland. (Berlin is a city in Germany.)
  • Actions in the present that occur once, several times or never: Ich gehe heute/jeden Freitag/nie schwimmen. (I go swimming today/every Friday/never.)
  • Actions in the present that occur after one another: Während ich lese hört mein Bruder Musik. (While I’m reading my brother is listening to music.)
  • Actions that will definitely happen in the future: Wir gehen morgen ins Kino. (We’re going to the cinema tomorrow.)
  • Narrationtense for present and future: Erst fliege ich nach Berlin wo ich meine Tante besuche, dann fahre ich weiter nach Spanien wo ich mit Freunden Urlaub mache. (*First I fly to Berlin where I visit my aunt, then I go to Spain where I go on holiday with friends.)

*you wouldn’t say it like that in English!

Verbs – Stammformen

When it comes to verbs, you need to know the 3 “Stammformen” (principal parts) (mainly in order to be able to construct different tenses). The Stammformen assign a verb’s conjugation.


Infinitiv: basic form of a verb. All verbs end in –en, -rn or –ln (e.g. holen (get sth) , ändern (change), regeln (arrange))

Präteritum: You add the suffix –te to the root of the weak verb, and then the personal verb endings. In strong verbs, the root vowels change (called Ablaut). The endings are pretty much the same though. (e.g. holte, änderte, regelte)

Partizip II: This is a fix verb form, participles don’t take conjugational endings. To the verb stem, add the prefix ge- and the suffix -(e)t. (e.g. geholt, geändert, geregelt)
As for strong verbs, you add the prefix ge- and the suffix -en to the verb stem with or without Ablaut. (e.g. kommen-kam–gekommen (come), nehmen-nahm-genommen (take), sprechen-sprach-gesprochen (speak))

modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb that “modifies” or gives more information about the function of the main verb that follows. In a sentence, the modal verb has to be followed by a verb in its infinitive form – most times, the sentence wouldn’t make sense without the main verb.

There are 6 modal verbs in German

  • können – to can, be able to
  • sollen – shall
  • wollen – to want (not “to will” in E)
  • müssen – must, to have to (not “Ich habe zu” in G)
  • mögen – to like, to want
  • dürfen – may, to be allowed to

Some modal verbs can be used without a main verb, for example: Ich mag dich. (I like you) Kannst du Deutsch? (Can you (speak) German?)

Tenses – Overview

sein (to be)

haben (to have)

werden (to become)

Forms of Verbs

Hilfsverben – auxiliary verbs (“helping verbs”) – put together with a Vollverb to construct different tenses (haben, sein, werden)

Modalverben – modal verbs – in connection with a Vollverb in the infinitive they express how something can be done. können –expresses possibility; dürfen –expresses permission; müssen –expresses necessity; mögen –expresses some kind of wish; sollen –expresses obligation; wollen –expresses a wish or intention

Vollverbenmain verbs –  can stand alone in a sentence; 3 groups: Tätigkeitsverben (arbeiten, machen), Vorgansverben (einschlafen, regnen, wachsen), Zustandsverben (lieben, frieren)

Verbs in a sentence

Relfexive Verben: occur with a relative pronoun that reflects the person that is doing the action, or in other words, they are used when the subject and object of the sentence are the same. For example “to wash oneself” – sich waschen. The relative pronouns are: mich, dich, sich, uns, euch, sich.

Transitive Verben: they come with an Akkusativobjekt, an object in the accusative case (etwas löschen, etwas holen…)

Intransitive Verben: can have no object or an object in the dative or genitive case (jemandem helfen) or an object with preposition (auf der Brücke stehen)

In German there are so called “schwache Verben” (weak verbs) and “starke Verben” (strong verbs)

Regular, weak verbs: you have the infinitive, remove the ending so that you’re left with the stem of the verb and then add the necessary pre- or suffixes.

However, there are irregular weak verbs, for example nennen (to name, call), denken (to think).

Irregular, strong verbs: recogniseable by “Ablaut” – a change of the main vowel between Präsens, Präteritum and Partizip Perfekt. For example singen-sang-gesungen. Although there are some patterns, strong verbs are usually regarded as irregular.