You started the amazing journey of learning german! Bravo. I started my own in 2012 and it still continues! At this point I am really proud and happy that I can speak and understand a language that I decided to learn in my adulthood. Of course, a lot of time exercising .. writing… reading and listening was spent in this process. But quizzes were always the fun part for me. If we are alike, then you will enjoy it too, because at the end of this post, there is a quiz I made for you!
1. The infinitive form of the german verbs.
The infinitive form of the german verbs is: root of the verb + “en”. Simple and clear right? Here is what I am talking about:
a) to have – haben
b) to come – kommen
c) to speak – sprechen
d) to live – leben
e) to make – machen
These verbs are quite similar to the ones in english (in my oppinion). Now let’s see something completely different…
f) to live (with the meaning of: to reside) – wohnen
g) to work – arbeiten
h) to be called – heißen
i) to be – sein … Yes, I noticed, “sein” has the privilege of being himself and no one else can be like him! It is the only verb that has the “-in” instead of “-en” in the infinitive form.
2. How to form the Present Tense in german.
Now that you have an idea of what I mean by infinitive form of the verb, it’s time to see how they look when we start speaking from different perspectives. Because the “-en” goes away and other letters come in it’s place, depending on the subject in the sentence. We will generally meet the following endings:
singular: 1st person: -e, 2nd person: -st, 3rd person: -t
plural: 1st person: -en, 2nd person: -t, 3rd person: -en.
3. In case you might have forgotten what 1st person is …
And surprise! There’s one more! The germans like to show their respect through the way they speak. If you are not a native english speaker, you might be familiar with the “Formal you“, because many languages have it. When we are interacting with people that are older than us, our bosses, our teachers and our sales men/women while shopping, so generally with someone that is not a close person, we use “Sie” instead of “du”.
|Formal 2nd person singular & plural||no formal version, we use “you”||Sie|
Unless the person you interact with, specifies that it is ok to speak with the regular you (du) … play safe and use the formal version, “Sie”. Please note that the first letter (the S) is always written with capital letter.
Luckily, the formal version uses the ending -en, when it comes to the verbs in present tense – except for “to be” (sein). The verb looks basically the same as in infinitive form, 1st person and 3rd person plural conjugation. You will see what I mean immediately.
4. Conjugation of regular verbs
Now we know the persons and the letters that are changing. We can finally get to business! Here’s how most of the verbs look like in present tense:
|ich komme||I come|
|du kommst||you come|
|er/sie/es kommt||he/she/it comes|
|wir kommen||we come|
|ihr kommt||you come.|
|sie kommen||they come|
|Sie kommen||you come (formal)|
|ich lebe||I live|
|du lebst||you live|
|er/sie/es lebt||he/she/it lives|
|wir leben||we live|
|ihr lebt||you live.|
|sie leben||they live|
|Sie leben||you live (formal)|
|ich mache||I make|
|du machst||you make|
|er/sie/es macht||he/she/it makes|
|wir machen||we make|
|ihr macht||you make.|
|sie machen||they make|
|Sie machen||you make (formal)|
|wohnen||to live (to reside)|
|ich wohne||I reside/I live|
|du wohnst||you reside|
|er/sie/es wohnt||he/she/it resides|
|wir wohnen||we reside|
|ihr wohnt||you reside.|
|sie wohnen||they reside|
|Sie wohnen||you reside (formal)|
|heißen||to be called|
|ich heiße||I am called|
|du heißt||you are called|
|er/sie/es heißt||he/she/it is called|
|wir heißen||we are called|
|ihr heißt||you are called.|
|sie heißen||they are called|
|Sie heißen||you are called (formal)|
! Please note: Because “ß” represents “ss” (double s), which is spoken as “s” – there is no need to add an “s” for the 2nd person singular. (du heißt)
|ich arbeite||I work|
|du arbeitest||you work|
|er/sie/es arbeitet||he/she/it works|
|wir arbeiten||we work|
|ihr arbeitet||you work.|
|sie arbeiten||they work|
|Sie arbeiten||you work (formal)|
! Please note: Because the root of the verb “arbeiten” is arbeit, ending in -t, we need to add an “e” before the ending as in: du arbeitest, er/sie/es arbeitet, ihr arbeitet. This rule applies to all the verbs whose roots are ending in -t-, -d- and -gn-
5. Verb conjugation with changing vowel
Dear friend, I must present to you another exception in the german grammar, but only briefly, because we will speak about it with another occasion (and I should go sleep too :). Which reminds me, to remind you, how important sleep is! If it is late, just turn off the device and go for a rest, because you need it! This can wait until tomorrow.)
But if it is not late yet, you should find out that there are some verbs that are changing a vowel when we speak in the 2nd and 3rd person singular. In the case of “sprechen”, the first “e” turns into “i”, as you can observe in the table bellow.
|ich spreche||I speak|
|du sprichst||you speak|
|er/sie/es spricht||he/she/it speaks|
|wir sprechen||we speak|
|ihr sprecht||you speak.|
|sie sprechen||they speak|
|Sie sprechen||you speak (formal)|
No need to worry! With time you will develop a feeling about it, you’ll see.
6. Irregular verbs: “sein” and “haben”
What can I say… they are special and important. To remember “haben” might be a little less demanding than “sein”, but I assure you, you will need to use them both, a lot. My personal advice would be, to write them down a few times per day, as you see them in the table bellow. You’ll be doing great!
|ich habe||I have|
|du hast||you have|
|er/sie/es hat||he/she/it has|
|wir haben||we have|
|ihr habt||you have.|
|sie haben||they have|
|Sie haben||you have (formal)|
|ich bin||I am|
|du bist||you are|
|er/sie/es ist||he/she/it is|
|wir sind||we are|
|ihr seid||you are.|
|sie sind||they are|
|Sie sind||you are (formal)|
Test your knowledge by doing this 20 questions test.
Kind advice: Notice your mistakes and learn from them. 🙂
Thank you for stopping by.
Disclaimer: These are rules that I learned and observed while studying this language through various books, articles, videos & podcasts. Take all the information presented here as a suggestion and an attempt to helping you in your learning process. There is no guarantee that you will succeed, only by watching, listening and/or reading this content. Your success in learning this or any other foreign language depends on the level of sustained efforts and quantity of time and exercise you are investing. Thank you for your understanding.